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Annual Report 

For the Year Ending June 30, 1988 

Document 15-1988 



Vice President 






As the accompanying report of the director makes clear, in fiscal year 
1988 the Boston Public Library made substantial progress toward the 
goal of restoration and revitalization. That such progress was made 
is due to the leadership of the director, Arthur Curley, and to the 
diligent efforts of the Library's staff. It is really through the constant 
work of hundreds of women and men who, day after day, carry out 
the Library's mission of free public library service, that the Library 
earned Boston Magazine's citation: 

Boston Magazine is pleased to honor the Boston Public Library 
as Best Revamped Local Resource. In recognition of quality and 
excellence. Best of Boston, 1988. 

As always, I am most grateful for the support and cooperation of my 
colleagues, Mr. Bulger, Mrs. Gaines, Mrs. Luthin, and Mrs. Goodwin, 
who care for, protect, and defend this wonderful institution. 

Kevin F. Moloney 

Assembling the highpoints of the year for this annual report reminds 
us of an observation Charles Lamb once made about the year's end: 
"I never hear [the bells which ring out the Old Year] without a gather- 
ing up [in] my mind... of all the images that have diffused over the 
past twelve month." This gathering up of old images for FY87/88 is 
marked by several positive words: progress, innovation, staff vitali- 
ty, community involvement. The Library moved forward in a cam- 
paign spirit — a campaign to raise funds for readying the Library for 
the next century; a campaign to put a library card into the hands of 
every child; a campaign to adopt state-of-the-art technology for library 
processes and services; and a continuing campaign to revitalize the 
resources and services of our world-class institution. 

In the sections which follow, citations of events, activities, or ser- 
vices in individual units are simply examples of activities frequently 
duplicated in other departments. It is hoped that this record of the 
Boston Public Library for FY87/88 will generate pride in Bostonians 
and determination in Library staff to continue its record of service. 

Research Library 

With marked purpose and vitality, the Research Library staff moved 
forward on all fronts, at administrative and direct public service levels, 
giving attention to the overall mission of the Library coupled with 
the specific goals of the Library as a major research center. Staff par- 
ticipation in important broad library activities included program plan- 
ning, collective bargaining, numerous task forces, and problem solv- 
ing meetings. Targeted for full attention within the Research Library 
agenda were assignments related to the McKim building restoration, 
preservation, organization and servicing of special collections, expan- 
sion of electronic systems, special projects, and staff development. 
Activity centered on virtually everything from caricatures and com- 
ic books to stained glass windows, from treasures of the past to 
futuristic handling of information by miniscule electronic chips. 

Looking ahead to the McKim restoration, staff concentrated on plan- 
ning for shifting of materials and for remote storage, also planning 

for future expanded services including Sound Archives, Special Col- 
lections, and a Map Department. In preparation for the physical moves 
mandated by the restoration, virtually thousands of cartons of gifts 
were examined, their importance assessed, and processing priorities 

Preservation efforts this year concentrated on newspapers, rebin- 
ding or microfilming selected reference works, and continuing educa- 
tion of staff in preservation. In efforts to make specialized Research 
Library collections more accessible, Research Library staff, part-time 
summer workers, and volunteers continued organization of the Joan 
of Arc, Jordan, Laning Humphrey collections, and the Reilly, Loef- 
fler, Coletti, and Ely papers. 

Other projects included sorting a backlog of sheet music, prepar- 
ing radical newspapers for microfilming, work on Seamus Heaney 
publications and two Russian collections of drama and classics, and 
listing of Peronista pamphlets. Additional projects dealt with inter- 
national government documents, publications of small presses, and 
interpretation of the Library's holdings in sports and city records. 
Reference departments and collections were heavily used. A total 
of 451,906 items were supplied in-house to users; 137,370 questions 
were answered. More items (231,833) were used by non-Bostonians, 
confirming the importance of the Library as a resource for the entire 

Beyond the daily assignments of Research Library staff was the com- 
mitment to special projects often performed under grant or gift 
monies. Such a major activity was the continuation of newspaper 
preservation microfilming supported by a Higher Education Act, Ti- 
tle lie grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This effort, 
cooperative with the state library and numerous public libraries, is 
dedicated to completing runs of newpapers and preparing them for 
preservation microfilming. 

Important in the Research Library's preservation activities this year 
was the Peabody and Stearns Project, funded by the National Endow- 
ment for the Humanities and carried out by the Fine Arts Depart- 
ment. Designated as a phased preservation needs assessment, the pro- 
ject dealt with more than 1,400 rolls of architectural plans. The 
material was assessed roll by roll for intellectual content, support, 
media, size, and condition. Other steps stabilized the material in tem- 
porary storage bags and created a microcomputer program to handle 
data. This project further enhanced the Library's remarkable holdings 
of architectural drawings. According to the entry in the MacMillan 
Encyclopedia of Architecture, Peabody and Stearns "was recognized 
as the most important architectural office in Boston from the death 

Detail of the U.S. Custom House tower from a Peabody &. Stearns 

of H.H. Richardson in 1886 until World War I." Their architects were 
described as "virtually a dynasty... leaders of the profession." The Fine 
Arts Department also continued to organize the unique archives of 
the Connick Associates, renowned for stained glass. 

Several major purchases added important research dimensions to 
the Research Library. Among them: nearly 2,000 Italian opera costume 
designs; several Irish items including pamphlets from Northern 
Ireland, microforms of Irish radical newspapers, Irish literature and 
poetry published during the last century, works by and about poet 
Seamus Heaney,- several Russian collections including a cultural 
resources collection which provides, in English, descriptions of 
cultural resources available in many cities of the Soviet Union, and 
a collection of Soviet music and theatre. This year special emphasis 
was placed on foreign language materials, especially such oriental 
languages as Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian. 

Staff was involved in selection of major purchases and held dialogues 
with publishers' representatives. 7\n expedited procedure was 
developed for inspection of certain foreign and English language books 
before processing. Progress was achieved for an accelerated handling 
of all materials for the central library and branches by the determina- 
tion of priorities in processing the full range of acquisitions — from 
best sellers to children's books and foreign language titles. 

Community Library Services 

This year was marked by forward motion, continuing the goals set 
forth in the plan to revitalize the Library. It was a time of needs 
analysis, planning, and action. Attention was directed to collections, 
services, plans, and staffing, application for grant support, coopera- 
tion with outside agencies, literacy, and shared efforts with Friends. 
Benchmark accomplishments of FY88 included intensified efforts 
to recruit candidates for long-term children's librarian vacancies at 
Egleston Square, Washington Village, and Uphams Comer, and the 
branch librarian's position at Egleston Square; restoration and filling 
of the branch librarian position at Uphams Corner; reopening of Con- 
nolly and Parker Hill for Saturday service; elimination of meal-hour 
closings at Uphams Corner; official opening of the Access Center; bar- 
coding of more than half of General Library books; new air condition- 
ing in ten branches; completion of major capital improvements at Con- 
nolly Branch; starting of the first phase of major improvements and 
repairs for Hyde Park; and completion of final planning stages for 
capital improvements in 17 branches. 


Facade of the Connolly Branch Library, restored inside and out. 

By the end of the year, improved staffing and expanded service hours 
began to yield corresponding increases in library use: a 6 percent in- 
crease in circulation, a 22 percent increase in the number of programs 
offered, a 14 percent increase in program attendance, and a 3 percent 
increase in in-house use of library materials. 

This year saw the introduction of the McNaughton Book Leasing 
Program. For adults who follow the current book review with em- 
phasis on best sellers, the plan virtually eliminated the endless reserve 
lists for popular titles. Branches and General Library repeatedly 
described the impact on library use. Connolly Branch reported: "The 
McNaughton Book Leasing Program vastly improved our ability to 
obtain new best-sellers fast for our patrons. The news has spread and 
we are now seeing our regular patrons more often and they have told 
their friends. We hope to see this trend continue as we renew the plan 
for the next year." 

Through grants and regular funding, foreign language and literacy 
collections were considerably expanded. Brighton Branch increased 
its book deposits in Russian and subscribed to a newspaper for its Rus- 
sian commimity. General Library added Thai and Khmer to its foreign 
language collection which also offers Hmong, Lao, and Cape Verdean 
Creole in addition to works in French, German, Spanish, and other 
more commonly published languages. 

Throughout the Library, wherever there are identifiable people 
speaking other tongues as their first languages, the Library has but- 
tressed its resources for that group; Faneuil noted an increase in Viet- 
namese children; Codman Square keyed its activities toward Blacks, 
Hispanics, Haitians, and West Indians; Connolly, Dudley, and other 
branches responded to patron concerns over the effects of the Immigra- 
tion Control Act with speakers and pamphlets; Adams Street noted 
a stable population of Irish heritage and built a successful National 
Endowment for the Humanities series around it. 

Sharing center stage with the targeting of language/cultural diver- 
sity was the Library's attention to the literacy needs of users, or non- 
users. With an estimated 100,000 Bostonians impeded in the 
workplace and their personal lives by functional illiteracy, the Library 
directed vigorous efforts this year to teen and adult learners. A Library 
Literacy Committee spearheaded an investigation of such learners as 
well as sources of materials and possible funding. To buttress their 
readiness to deal with literacy, staff attended several workshops and 
conferences, gaining exposure to traditional and innovative approaches 
to reaching adult learners through varied formats including songs, 
chants, and poems. 

Several branch and central projects focused on the needs of adult 


learners. Jamaica Plain offered visits and library tours for a small group 
taking English as a Second language instruction at the Adult Learn- 
ing Program, Jamaica Plain Community School. Codman Square col- 
laborated with Odwin Learning Center, which teaches medically- 
oriented courses to recent immigrants in preparation for positions as 
medical technicians or aides. Dudley Branch is establishing a literacy 
center on its second floor. 

In a "Library Collaboration for Literacy" Grant project funded by 
the Board of Library Commissioners, Parker Hill and Brighton Bran- 
ches joined forces with the Family Learning Center at Boston Univer- 
sity. The project is utilizing microcomputers to support adult learn- 
ing, has created videotapes on children's reading; and will publish in 
the near future a book of original writings by adult learners. Other 
funded literacy projects are listed under Gifts and Grants. 

Young Adult Services 

Imagination and innovation marked the Library's activities for teen- 
agers. The Young Adult Department offered its annual summer 
workshop in creative writing with author Ellen Emerson White 
critiquing young people's original writings. The department intro- 
duced "Sneak Previews," in which teens read new books before they 
are added to the collection. The Young Adult Department also spon- 
sored a major exhibit in the General Library lobby, "Teens as Com- 
munity Resources," comprising photographs of Boston young people 
involved in community projects, a graphic demonstration that in- 
dividuals can make a positive impact on society. 

In other programs targeting teens, Parker Hill called on Ted Thomas, 
Director of Youth Services, City Mission Society, to conduct a poetry 
workshop. The branch also hosted Larry Johnson, sports cartoonist 
for the Boston Globe, and a drug enforcement agent of the Depart- 
ment of Justice who described how a "drug bust" is planned and ex- 
ecuted. Brighton offered courses to teens in library instruction; Jamaica 
Plain presented a staff member from Teen Line, who described that 
hot line for teenagers. Branches also scheduled film series for young 
adults — from horror films to teen themes. 

In an important literacy initiative, the Young Adult Department 
of General Library pursued a teens as tutors project which included 
acquisition of materials and training of tutors from Copley High 
School under a grant from "Teens as Community Resources." 


children's Services 

A dynamic range of programs was featured throughout the Library 
system in reaching out and bringing in young people. The activities 
fostered creativity, action, involvement, observation, and — of 
course — reading. Children's librarians reached children in a multi- 
directional approach — in school classrooms, in parks and playgrounds, 
and within the library. 

In a sampling of the activities which compelled the attention and 
delight of young people, children at Adams Street played BOOK 
BINGO; Charlestown sponsored Creative Drama during the summer,- 
Brighton held After School Stories and Films; Egleston, Faneuil, Fields 
Comer, and Jamaica Plain held Toddlers Story Times; Hyde Park held 
an all-day Trick or Treat; Lower Mills and North End sponsored Pup- 
pet Shows; Codman Square and Fields Corner held animal programs 
featuring guests (human and animal) from the MDC Traveling Zoo 
and Franklin Park; Egleston Square featured thematic Pirates Day and 
Detectives Day, also a Teddy Bear Picnic; North End held Story Hours 
for Mothers and Toddlers, and West Roxbury conducted Pajama Story 
Hours. Book-related craft programs were frequent: kitemaking and 

Discovering the world of books. 


collage design and mask construction at Egleston; origami at Con- 
nolly, Native American crafts at Faneuil, and Monster Masks at Cod- 
man Square. All this indicates that much imagination is operative 
in reaching young ones, aided by lively marketing language! 

Four branches (Charlestown, Dudley, Fields Comer, and South End) 
continued the Reading Is Fundamental program under the sponsor- 
ship of H.P. Hood Company, Digital Equipment, Fidelity Investments, 
and B. Dalton Booksellers respectively. In the nationwide series, 
children are encouraged to have fun reading and to choose books for 
their own personal libraries. 

Access Center 

For many years the Library has offered service to disabled patrons in 
various ways: book deposits to nursing homes and hospitals, a branch 
within City Hospital, provision of large-print collections, and readers 
advisory service to patrons with special needs. This year saw the first 
targeting of the needs of the disabled by allocation of funding, staff, 
space, collections, programming, and technology. On October 7, 1987, 
the Access Center for Disabled People opened on the Concourse level 
of the General Library under the direction of Kathleen Hegarty, Staff 
Officer for Special Programs and Services. 

Focusing initially on the blind and visually impaired, the deaf and 
hearing impaired, and those with physical disabilities, the center will 
expand its services to others with special needs in the near future. 
The center has been funded by three grants under the Library Ser- 
vices and Construction Act Title I, administered through the 
Massachusestts Board of Library Commissioners. 

The Access Center offers a collection of more than 9,000 titles in 
large print and a thousand talking books on disks and cassettes. Special 
technology offers visually impaired patrons the capability of transfor- 
ming library resources into a format they can use. The staff of the 
center works in close contact with community specialists in service 
to the disabled and attends relevant seminars and conferences. 
Development of programs has accelerated this year since the October 
opening. Among the programs offered: "Black Deaf Heritage," "Deaf 
Culture in Japan," and "Signed Stories by Deaf Story Tellers." Hearing- 
impaired children learned how puppets are made through a demonstra- 
tion by puppeteer Claire DiMeo and enjoyed a sign-interpreted per- 
formance of "Puss in Boots." 


Mayor Flynn cuts the ribbon for the formal opening of the Access Center 
for Disabled People. From left are Library Director Arthur Curley; 
Michael Scully, father of the late Susan Scully, who served on the Boston 
Commission on the Affairs of the Handicapped; Mayor Flynn; Charles 
Sabatier, Executive Director of the Boston Commission for Persons with 
Disabilities; Kevin Moloney, President of the Library's Board of Trustees; 
the late Pete Cernada, East Boston community activist; and interpreter 
Randy Meyers. 

Programs and Exhibitions 

The Library made an impressive impact this year in exploring ideas 
and events through dynamic programming and exhibitions. Major at- 
tention was accorded the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution 
throughout the Library with exhibitions and programs directed to 
patrons from children to scholars. The Rare Book Department offered 
a foreign approach to the great American document with presenta- 
tions by consuls general from France, the Netherlands, Canada, and 
Mexico. Other programs called upon local political figures and 
educators to deal with various aspects of constitutional history and 
rights of political bodies, victims, and women. Two plays on the Con- 
stitution were offered at West Roxbury Branch by sixth graders of St. 
Theresa's School. 

Themes of programs and exhibitions in branches and the central 
library were as broad as the Library's book collections. Current issues 
and concerns — immigration, drug use, financial planning, health crises 
including AIDS — were highlighted again and again. Yet time-honored 


cultural experiences were not neglected. Both in the Research Library's 
specialized departments and in branches, music and art were 
remembered. South Boston and Brighton Branches held their annual 
art shows; Jamaica Plain conducted several artist-centered programs; 
Parker Hill held a workshop in Black Music; Lower Mills offered 
"Silent Destiny; A Musical History of Women Composers"; Dudley 
Branch featured presentations by artists Curtis Corbin and James 
Reuben Reed; Parker Hill displayed the works of Dianne Zimbabwe 
and Theodore Harris; Hyde Park exhibited paintings by the Hyde Park 
Municipal Building Art Class — the list is a compelling tribute to 
creativity in the community and in the Library. 

Opening of "Drawings from Boston" exhibition: artist Henry Schwartz 
with Keeper of Prints Sinclair Hitchings. 


In General Library, too, attention to exhibitions was lively and 
disparate. Among the exhibitions: "Along the El, Contemporary 
Photos of MBTA's Elevated Orange Line and Washington Street Cor- 
ridor"; "Vaults of Memory: Jev^ish and Christian Imagery in the 
Catacombs of Rome"; "Save Life on Earth"; and "My Mommy Drives 
a Wheelchair." 

Throughout the year the Research Library opened its treasures and 
special collections to public view. Among the exhibitions sponsored 
by the Print Department were a retrospective of works on paper by 
Nina Bohleu; a historic view of Copley Square; watercolors by 
Varujan Boghosian from the collections of John D. Merriam; the art 
of Boston's distinguished Black artist Allan Rohan CritC; pastels and 
charcoal drawings by William Shattuck; and a remarkable gathering 
of works by Boston artists titled "A Salute to Boston." Among its ex- 
hibits the Rare Book and Manuscript Department offered a major 
showing of illuminated manuscripts, "Treasures at the BPL," and 
"Nathaniel Bowditch, 1773-1830" in remembrance of the pioneering 
American scientist. In other displays, the Research Library showed 
"Man's Best Friends," "Blacks in American History," "Women in 
Science," "Russian Musical Nights," "Happy 50th Tanglewood," and 
"Caldecott Medal Books." 

This year the Research Library considerably increased program 
outreach activity. Among the major programs: the Music Department 
cooperated with the Finzi Society of America and the Boston Con- 
cert Opera in arranging lectures. The department also sponsored con- 
certs by the Huntington Chamber Orchestra and cellist Luis Leguia- 
The Science Reference Department participated actively for some 76 
hours at the Inventors Weekend, a notable opportunity to distribute 
flyers and discuss conducting a patent search. A Women in Science 
program featuring Dr. Martha Thomas proved to be a worthy program 
prototype but needed a greater publicity effort to attract attendance. 
The Fine Arts Department joined the Society of Architectural 
Historians/New England in sponsoring a lecture by Robert A.M. Stem, 
"Architecture: History and Public Policy." 

The Rare Book and Manuscripts Department reflected its signifi- 
cant holdings in several programs. Inviting much public attention and 
pleasure were a program, reception, and exhibition on the comedian 
Fred Allen, featuring Boston Globe columnist Robert Taylor, author 
of a biography of Boston's renowned cerebral radio wit. The annual 
Dwiggins Lecture, co-sponsored with the Society of Printers, was 
delivered by Dietmar R. Winkler. Other lectures featured Quebecois 
writer Jean Caron, the Browning Society, and four consuls general 
from Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, and France on the impact of 


the U.S. Constitution on their nations. In addition to several im- 
pressive exhibitions and receptions honoring artists and collectors, 
the Print Department presented the annual Wiggin Symposium, 
"Three Worlds of Art." Repeatedly authors brought thier messages 
to Library stages, among them: Jeremy Bemstein, Justin Kaplan, Julius 

As program center, the Library brings delight and information to 
thousands of patrons. 


Lester, Jonathan Kozol, Annie Dillard, Arthur Miller, Rumer God- 
den, and Kurt Vonnegut. 

Many programs and activities including discussion groups and 
parents series were repeated as regular, ongoing activities. Fourteen 
branches conducted periodic adult book discussions. The General 
Library inaugurated the "America Lives" book series w^hich attracted 
a diverse audience for v^eekly afternoon and evening sessions of 
spirited analysis of novels v^hich illustrate the American experience. 
General Library also sponsored a popular series titled Brown Bag 
Seminars which offered lectures on such current concerns as interac- 
tion in the workplace among customers, employers, and others,- con- 
flict resolution; retirement planning; and reading the financial pages. 

The popular Never-Too-Late series, geared to patrons over 60, 
prospered in Central and five branches. 

Probably the most frequent component of programming was the 
film, presented in a wide range of formats — by theme, actor, form 
(animation, documentary), national origin, award winners. The 
Library's feature film series, "Gary Grant: the Paramont Years," was 
awarded the 1987 Best Film Series Award by the Boston Society of 
Film Critics. 

Ethnic-centered programs and exhibits continued to focus on the 
rich heritage of the city's plural populations. The armual February 
observance of Black History Month included lectures by Dr. Antonio 
F. Holland of Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri; C. Vin- 
cent Haynes, jazz historian; and James Reuben Reed, artist. Nor- 
theastern University. Other Black history observances included story 
hours, craft demonstrations, slide and dramatic presentations. Among 
other ethnic observances: Bernard Wax, Director of the American 
Jewish Historical Society, lectured at Brighton Branch on Jewish com- 
munity history from 1649 to the present; Parker Hill co-sponsored 
an exhibit with the Puerto Rican Festival of Boston of 12 masks made 
in Puerto Rico; the Central Library children's room conducted bi- 
lingual story hours in English and Chinese as well as programs on 
writing Chinese, using chopsticks, and constructing Russian-style 
disappearing paper boxes; at Charlestown Branch a former journalist 
for Latvian ex-patriot newspapers loaned his collection of newspapers 
for exhibition. 

Significant in the 6,945 programs held in the Library this year was 
the cooperative support from local educational/cultural/business/ 
government agencies and organizations. The Library provided staff, 
programming, and exhibit space in addition to bibliographical sup- 
port; the "outside" agencies offered the expertise and talents of lec- 
turers and performers. To name a few of the legion of cooperative 


groups: Massachusetts Historical Society, Harvard Bookstore Cafe, 
American Cancer Society, National Park Service, Boston Red Sox, 
Gallaudet University, Family Services of Greater Boston, Lowell In- 
stitute, The Finzi Society, Shearson Lehman Brothers, Visiting Nurse 
Association of Boston, and several colleges and universities. 

Demonstrating the importance and impact of joint programming 
in the Library and community was the program offered by Associated 
Grantmakers of Massachusetts. Titled "Meet the Donor," the series 
brought together representatives of funding agencies for panel discus- 
sions in six branches. 

Emphasis on programs in this report has been somewhat lengthy — 
and for good reason. The program component of the Library's outreach 
exemplifies the vitality, the energy of the staff who does the plan- 
ning and the community members who take part. Several years ago 
when the Library accepted the mantle from the National Endowment 
for the Humanities as a "learning library," it described itself as a true 
people's univeristy, a place where citizens expand their knowledge, 
a place of ideas in ferment. In FY88 the learning library continued 
its role as a free university with a welcome mat at the threshold. 

National Endowment for the Humanities 

In continuance of the dynamic educational series supported by NEH, 
the Library sponsored several lectureships in branches this year. 
Designed to provide college-level courses without the admission/finan- 
cial requisites of college, the NEH programs were eclectic and pro- 
vocative. Evaluations of the courses point out that for the most part 
the meetings did not fill the halls but reached thoughtful adults com- 
mitted to expanding their knowledge and ideas. The lectures listed 
here reflect the contributions of experts from local colleges and 

"Inventing Ireland and Other Memories of the Future." 
Padraig O'Malley, University of Massachusetts Boston. 
(Adams Street and West Roxbury) 

"Women in American Films." Robert G. Goulet, Stone- 
hill College. (Brighton) 

"Playing Games: A History of Sports in Boston." John 
Powers, Boston Globe. (East Boston) 


"New England Women Writers." Deborah Rosenthal, 
Massasoit Community College. (Fields Corner) 

"Charlestown: The Making of an Urban Village." Thomas 
N. Brown, University of Massachusetts. (Charlestown) 

"Art and Commitment; the Black Literary Tradition from 
Native Son to The Color Purple." Joyce Mobley Corrigan, 
lecturer on literature and drama. (Dudley) 

"At Home in America," Myrna Kaye, Museum of Fine Arts, 
(Hyde Park) 

"Artists of the Harlem Renaissance, the Gift of Black Folk." 
James Reuben Reed, Northeastern University. (Parker Hill) 

"Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine," Dr. Michael 
Grodin, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public 
Health. (Roslindale) 

"A Salute to South Boston's Ethnic Communities." Five 
South Boston speakers: Rev. Arthur Lioliu; Algirdas 
Budreckis; Prof. Thomas H. O'Connor, Boston College; 
performance by Krakowiak, Polish Folk Singers of Boston. 
(South Boston) 

"The Wayward Stroke," lectures on Post Impressionism. 
Aileen Callahan, Boston College and Regis College. 
(South End) 

"Five Court Trials in the History of Boston." Alan Rogers, 
Boston College. (West End) 

"By the People, For the People, Folk Art in America." 
Gilian Wohlauer, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 



Since its beginnings the Boston Public Library has served as a 
publishing house, developing and printing booklists, catalogs, and 
books. This year the Library published several specialized departmen- 
tal items describing collections or services. Highlighting the Library's 
international juvenile collections and programs, the staffs of the 
General Library Children's Department and the Alice M. Jordan Col- 
lection created "The Whole World in Their Hands: An Idea Checklist 
for Librarians Serving Youth." 

Publications on Black Americans — and Bostonians — received par- 
ticular attention this year. "Spin a Soft Black Song" was built aroimd 
young people's books. "Black Is..." a popular, handsomely designed 
annual list of current adult fiction and nonfiction with Black themes 
went to press once again in time for Black History Month observances. 
Mindful of the constant demand for activities with emphasis on the 

19th-century German illustration from Richter-Album as it appeared 
in "The Whole World in Their Hands." 


Black experience, General Library this year put together "Black 
America: A Program Resource Guide." 

The Library's major release of the year resulted from the creative 
efforts of 27 poets, members of the Poetry Club of Dudley Branch 
Library headed up by Adults Librarian Olive Knight. Designed by Rick 
Zonghi, head of Graphic Arts, with an introduction by Luix V. Overbea 
of The Christian Science Monitor, Poets on the Horizon contains 
original verse on a remarkable range of themes, emotions, and poetic 
styles — from "Street Life" to "Old Comb" to "The Aging Process" 
and "Vintage Wino." The book promises to be the catapult for many 
events and possibly other publications to come. Already special pro- 
grams and receptions as well as readings by the poets themselves have 
been scheduled. 

In the annual compilation of current books which is distributed 
to Women's Club chapters throughout the state, the staff of General 
Library once again produced a thematic booklist, "Booking Around," 
for the Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs. 

For many years the Library published a widely distributed BPL 
News. In the period since its discontinuance, the need for a newslet- 
ter has been reinforced by the development campaign. As a result, 
this year the Library launched The Boston Pubhc Library Newslet- 
ter, Summer 1988, an elegant, two-fold illustrated vehicle "to pro- 
vide readers with the latest information about activities throughout 
the library system." 


The Library continued its technological applications to systems and 
services this year. The Metro-Boston Library Network (MBLN), an 
automated circulation/on-line catalog system linking the Boston, 
Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Maiden, and Newton Public Libraries, 
entered into a contract with Data Research Associates (DRA). In the 
year ahead the automation will proceed in phases: first circulation, 
then public access catalog. Once implemented, the new computer 
system will enable the Library to examine circulation and renewal 
policies to make them more sensitive to the public's needs. 

Appropriate wiring for installation of multiplexers and modems for 
the system commenced throughtout the branches. In preparation for 
barcoding books for the system, branch staff concentrated on 
"weeding," pulling from the collections materials worn or outdated. 
By the end of FY88 the General Library announced that more than 
400,000 items had been barcoded. This year also saw the beginning 


use of telefacsimile machines in a few branches and offices. The In- 
terlibrary Loan Department received a state grant to fund a telefac- 
simile network in the Boston subregion which provided for acquir- 
ing 14 FAX machines for the Boston subregion and two for Boston 
Public Library branches. The goal of the project is to increase ac- 
cessibility to Boston's vast serials collections for patrons in the 
suburbs. Through its FAX machine, Kirstein Business Branch will 
make possible the transmission of business journal articles to libraries 
of the Eastern Region. 

Several other Library units have expanded their services through 
state-of-the-art tools and machines. Since its opening in October 1987 
the Access Center has put into action several devices effective in 
aiding the visually/hearing impaired. Use of the Research Library's 
vast microfilm holdings was facilitated this year by the purchase of 
an opaque microfilm enlarger/printer. 

The Government Documents Department received a major 
bibliographic reference tool, a CD ROM (compact disk, read only 
memory) U.S. Government Publication Catalog, by which the public 
can view on a monitor data related to government publications since 
1976 (updated monthly). A laser jet printer, also acquired this year, 
makes it possible for public and staff to print out the data they have 
rapidly retrieved on the CD ROM. 


A young expert in information retrieval. 


As one of ten libraries in the nation to participate in an experimental 
trial of CASSIS (Classification and Support Information System), a 
CD ROM system developed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Of- 
fice, the Library's Science Reference Department this year received 
from that office a personal computer, printer, and CD reader. For six 
months the department studied and summarized patron reaction to 
the system. The results v^^ere significant: "skyrocketing use of 
patents," lines of students waiting to use CASSIS. 

Computer database searches in the Science Reference Department 
continued in great volume and quality, a total of 2,756 searches. The 
databases searched are broad with the heaviest use among trademark 
and medical data. 

By the conclusion of FY88 six Research Library Departments were 
performing data searches and CD ROM products were in three 


Building needs of branches and the central library gained considerable 
attention this year in terms of both planning and execution. The 
Buildings Department responded to the pressing needs of plants and 
grounds in painting and plastering, replacement of broken glass, roof 
repair, carpet cleaning, furniture refinishing, fence repair, ground 
maintenance, and removal of graffiti. In response to the fire at West 
Roxbury Branch, the staff of Buildings joined the Public Facilities 
Department in restoring the damaged basement and first floor levels. 

Numerous capital improvments under the management of the 
Public Facilities Department were in phases ranging from planning, 
design development, or bidding. They included installation of security 
systems, building secure storage rooms and ramps for handicap ac- 
cess, roof repairs, and heating and electrical repairs. A major project 
was the restoration of the Connolly Branch Library as part of 
"Rebuilding Boston," Mayor Flynn's five-year capital improvement 
plan, prepared by the Office of Capital Planning. A special celebra- 
tion for the "new look" of the branch is scheduled for the fall. 

Another building event was the ground-breaking ceremony on 
March 26 for the addition to the West Roxbury Branch. Enthusiastical- 
ly attended by city and Library officials and community residents, 
the event promised an addition with expanded space for seating and 
collections, a special separate area for teenagers, handicap access, and 
appropriate enhancement and adaptation of the present building to 
the addition. 


This year the Library embarked on a historic, innovative special 
service which impacts positively on the community and the Library. 
Developed by the Honorable Julian T. Houston of the Roxbury District 
Court and Angela Ferrario of Associated Day Care Services, w^ith ar- 
chitectural and financial support committed by the Public Facilities 
Department, the plan will utilize adapted second-floor space at Dudley 
Branch Library for drop-in child care for individuals conducting court 

The restoration of the Research Library was the centerpiece in the 
year's attention to buildings. Designed by architect Charles FoUen 
McKim, the structure in recent years has been identified as the McKim 
building, with its adjunct structure by architect Philip Johnson 
called the Johnson building. Hailed as one of America's most beautiful 
buildings, a "palace for the people," the McKim building took some 
17 years to build. In the 93 years since its opening in 1895, the Library 
has undergone many adaptations of interior spaces to the needs of 
library functions — and few modernizations. Increasingly antiquated 
systems and damage by leaks, dust, and pollutants have exacted their 

The Trustees recognized the pressing mandate for renovation and 
moved into action to restore and renovate the people's palace. Awar- 
ding the contract to the firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and 
Abbott, Inc. in 1985, the Trustees saw the restoration as a five-year 
project proceeding in three phases: 

Phase I: restoration of entrance hall, grand staircase, Chavannes 
Gallery, and Venetian and Pompeiian lobbys; relocation of 
Government Documents Department on basement level along 
with restrooms and major mechanical/plumbing work; new 
staircase leading from beneath the grand stair to the basement. 
On the ground floor — north side — a bookstore, information 
center, spacious exhibition/lecture areas, and possibly a tearoom. 
Design development drawings for Phase I were completed in 
FY88, followed by substantial attention to working drawings. 

Phase II: the junction between the McKim and Johnson buildings 
will include a key new connecting stairway and revised elevator. 
The Microtext Department will be relocated directly off the 
ground floor stairway, and the Newspaper Room will be 
renovated. On the second floor, the Abbey Room will be con- 
verted to a reading room. New centers for photoduplication and 
periodicalA^ibliographic reference will be created with the Elliott 
Room and the catalog modified to an electronic facility. 


The elegant lamp above the grand staircase in the McKim building gets 
a shine. 

Phase ni: will complement north side exhibition area on south 
side, restore and enhance the courtyard; continue restoration 
of Bates Hall and the Abbey Room; create new office space; and 
on the third floor, expand the space for the Library's special col- 
lections, Music, Fine Arts, and Prints. 

Serving as project designer for the McKim restoration is Daniel 
Coolidge. In his presentation of design development plans to the 
Trustees, Coolidge noted two paramount design themes which he 
followed in his "respect for the ghost of McKim": respect for the past 
and retention of the flexibility of use. 

Down the years the city of Boston has provided funding for 
maintenance and capital projects such as the McKim restoration in 
budget allocations and loan orders. A major infusion of funding for 
the Boston Public Library — and public libraries across the 
commonwealth — took place this year. Senate President William M. 
Bulger, who serves as Vice President of the Trustees, introduced the 
Public Library Improvement Act which will direct $45 million in state 
funds to the support of local and regional public libraries. Commended 
by library organizations for his commitment and action, Bulger 
described the legislation as a means to "help us preserve, foster, and 


expand the Commonwealth's free pubhc library system for years and 
generations to come." 

The Campaign for the Library 

On October 18, 1986 the Library embarked on a major private sector 
fundraising effort for the restoration of the McKim building. Other 
goals include revitalizing the community library system, strengthen- 
ing Research Library resources, and utilizing new technologies 
system wide. 

hitensive planning for the fundraising effort is taking place under 
the direction of Tess Cederholm, Development Officer. A handsome 
case statement for the campaign was completed this year. Entitled 
"Campaign for the Library," the booklet will be used as a tool for 
soliciting contributions from chief executive officers of corporations. 

Development activities are being guided professionally by the 
Robert J. Corcoran Company. Also under contract for The Campaign 
is Jonathan L. Barkan of Communications for Learning for the design 
and production of graphics and audiovisual materials. In the produc- 
tion stage for campaign use are a brochure and an A-V cassette featur- 
ing prominent individuals describing the influence and services of the 

To date the central work of the campaign has been a preparatory, 
behind-the-scenes operation: research of data on possible donors and 
the creation of files, historic and contemporary, of key people with 
ties to the Library. A campaign leadership committee, a citizen group 
of about 10 people, will soon be named. 

Especially propitious for fundraising is the fact that FY88 has already 
yielded many contributions even though there has yet to be an of- 
ficial start of The Campaign for the Library with leaders and publica- 
tions and databases in place. Last year's significant pledge of 
$1,000,000 from the Boston Globe Foundation obviously provided the 
inspiration and support for the Library's historic strong step toward 
the next century. 

Gifts and Grants 

In addition to the splendid gift from the Globe Foundation, other gifts 
in monies and materials were extensive in FY88 — from private citizens 
as well as the government, corporations, and foundations. Thanks to 
such support, the Library was empowered to move beyond budgeted 


acquisitions, services, and projects. Here enumerated are the most 
major gifts and grants. Virtually hundreds of other donations, impor- 
tant to the Library's total work, have been gratefully acknowledged 
and recorded in departmental reports. 


Dorothy Abbe (for cataloging Dwiggins collections) $ 70,000.00 

The Boston Globe Foundation 200,000.00 

The Boston Globe 2,500.00 

Junior League of Boston 30,000.00 
Estate of Herman Loeffler 

(for organization of political papers) 20,000.00 

Donna and Scott Rybum 7,500.00 

Frederick E. Weber Charities 5,000.00 

L J. O'Connor with match from John Hancock 1,380.00 

Other gifts 5,587.50 

Gifts in Kind 

Mrs. Merle Shera through the Oregon Art Institute: 

136 etchings, drawings, lithographs by American artist Thomas 

Richard Young: 

51 photographs by Bradford Washburn 

Duncan MacPherson, political cartoonist of the Toronto Star: 
200 pieces of finished art by the donor 

Mrs. Margaret Moody: 

1,418 musical items including books, pamphlets, reference 
works, record albums, souvenir programs, periodicals, etc. 

Constance Kantor: 

1 1 cartons of art books which belonged to her father, art collec- 
tor Samuel Glaser 

Stephen Andrus of the former Impressions Workshop: 

several thousand prints, business records, library materials, 
engraved woodblocks, etched copper plates, ephemera, storage 
cabinets, and shelving 

Robert Severy: 

restoration of 8 art works valued at $4,050 

Robert Severy: 

more than 8,000 photographs which the donor took himself of 
Boston streets and neighborhoods 

Esther Heins: 

25 copies of her book Flowering Trees and Shrubs valued at $750 


Mark Twain bronze by sculptor Bruce Kueffer 
8,064 recordings for Sound Archives from several donors 
Other gifts (books, serials, pamphlets, manuscripts, puppets) totall- 
ing 26,359 items 


Boston Arts Lottery for publication of Drawings 

for Boston catalog $2,500.00 

Board of Library Commissioners for cooperative 

Brighton Branch/Parker Hill Branch/Boston 

University intergenerational program on 

adult literacy $49,537.00 

Gateway Cities for acquisition of materials 

for ages 3-21 whose primary language is 

not English $75,000.00 

Commonwealth Literacy Commission: core 

collection for adult literacy resource centers $3,000.00 

U.S. Department of Education: central collection 

of materials for adults in literacy programs $25,000.00 

Board of Library Commissioners: computer 

equipment software, and personnel 

for Access Center $19,830.00 

National Endowment for the Humanities for 

assessment of preservation needs of 1,000 

rolls of Peabody &. Stearns architectural 

drawings $66,307.00 

Fidelity Investments/Digital Equipment/ 

B. Dalton/ and H.P. Hood grants for Reading 

Is Fundamental programs at Fields Corner/ 

Dudley/Charlestown/ and South End $19,000.00 

Teens as Community Resources: for training 

of Copley High School students as volun- 
teer tutors $4,000.00 
18th Century Short Title Project $3,000.00 
U.S. Department of Education for preservation 

microfilming of newpapers in BPL and other 

collections $210,000.00 


Grants for Automation 

LSCA (Library Services and Construction Act) 382,857.00 

LSCA 336,857.00 

Commonwealth 484, 1 89.00 

Commonwealth 500,000.00 

Commonwealth 450,000.00 

Commonwealth (Telecomm) 107,610.00 

Total Automation Grants $2,260,799.00 

Friends and Volunteers 

Many events of FY88 can be attributed to the various branch-centered 
Friends groups as well as the Citywide Friends established last year 
and the Associates of the Boston Public Library. These groups directed 
their efforts, always in furtherance of Library goals, in many direc- 
tions from fundraising to program support and public relations, book 
sales and open houses. To cite a few of their efforts: 

At Brighton Branch, Friends raised funds with a book sale and 
culture auction and funded, in part, the annual Arts Exposition. 

CharlestowTi Friends supported programs by psychologist Mary Lou 
Randour on women; a cooking demonstration on foolproof biscuit 
making; and lectures on Ireland's literary places and Boston Harbor. 

In Hyde Park, Friends inaugurated this year an annual Friend of 
the Year award, the first honoree Margaret Geraghty. 

Lower Mills Friends co-sponsored several programs including 
Adventures in Literature with Prof. Robert White of Dartmouth 
College; puppet performances for children; and the popular series 

Several Friends groups sought and received grants for branch pro- 
grams and beautification of grounds, among them: Hyde Park and 
Brighton received Boston Arts Lottery grants; Jamaica Plain, Parker 
Hill, and Connolly Branches received grants from the Greenspace 
Alliance for landscaping. 

Volunteers also played a part in advancing the service goals of the 
Library, in organization of collections, and public relations. A major 
injection of funding for volunteer activity came this year from the 
Junior League of Boston to establish a training program for guides and 
to assist in special events. A grant in the amount of $30,000 will sup- 
port a corps of volunteers in a three-year project. League members 


have been researching and developing training materials for the guides 
and plan to begin recruitment by this fall. 

Among Library departments, both Prints and Fine Arts have 
worked effectively with volunteers. In the Print Department, 
volunteers researched data on American artist Thomas Handforth and 
preserved the Library's holdings of Handforth prints. Interns in the 
Print Department worked on the collection of living artists with ties 
to Boston and the collection of Joseph Pennell. As Keeper of Prints 
Sinclair H. Hitchings noted, "One key to the success of the Boston 
Public Library in a changing world is its close ties to Boston-area col- 
leges and imiversities." Already noted in this report are the cooperative 
programs, including NEH lectureships, achieved by such ties. 

In Fine Arts, too, volunteers helped considerably, "plugging away" 
in the indexing of artists, craftsmen, and the gift photographs from 
Robert Severy. 


Staff members contributed positively to Library objectives of building 
collections and expanding services, making automation operational, 
increasing their expertise through attendance at seminars and con- 
ferences, and accepting professional leadership roles. 

Four staff members contributed suggestions to the Boston Works 
Smarter Program, and their suggestions received funding for the 
benefit of the Library. 

Catherine M. Coyne, Children's Librarian at Adams Street Branch, 
suggested child-size chairs for pre-school story hours. 

Walter E. Newman, paper conservator in the Rare Books and 
Manuscript Department recommended the purchase of an 
ultrasonic encapsulator which encloses rare fragile manuscripts 
and documents in a clear polyester. 

Rockymarie Weaver, Children's Library Specialist, proposed a 
fiction-finding, game-like system for children to find stories fitting 
their age and interest. 

Barbara Wicker, Branch Librarian of Hyde Park, advocated the pur- 
chase of a typewriter exclusively for public use. 

Two Boston Public Library leaders with more than 70 years ser- 
vice in their careers were memorialized by the establishment of funds 
in their names: 


This restored Dennis doll shows actor Joe Jettcrbon in his interpreta- 
tion of Rip Van Winkle. 

Ruth M. Bleecker, Curator of Music at the time of her death, was 
remembered by a fund to augment holdings in the Allen A. Brown 

Veronica M. Lehane, a leader in the Library's youth services for 
more than 50 years, was remembered in a fund built around one 
of her special strengths, storytelling. 


Several annual programs also memorialized staff who contributed 
years of professional service to the Library. 

Thomas Flanagan, author of The Tenants of Time, delivered the 
Francis Moloney Lecture. 

Paul M. Wright, Senior Fellow at the McCormack Institute of 
Public Affairs, lectured on former House Speaker John W. McCor- 
mack in the annual Marjorie M. Gibbons Memorial Lecture. 

North End Branch marked the fortieth year honoring Mary U. 
Nichols with a particularly festive books award program — exhibits, 
awards ceremony, a puppet play by North End youngsters, and at- 
tendance by members of the Nichols family. 

In acknowledgment of her estimable contributions in restoring the 
Library's Dennis Doll Collection, friend of the Library June P. Kibbe 
was designated by the Trustees as Honorary Curator of Dolls and 
Dioramas. In delightful demonstration of Kibbe's skills in restoration, 
the Research Library this year exhibited a compelling assemblage of 
real and fictional character dolls from the Dennis Doll collection — 
from Albert Einstein and Yul Brynner to Alice in Wonderland! 

It is appropriate to conclude this annual report on a people's institu- 
tion with tributes to everyone who makes the Boston Public Library 
a special library: friends, volunteers, staff, patrons, the Trustees who 
"do their homework" with remarkable dedication, and city officials 
who give proud support to our learning center, our people center! 

Arthur Curley 
Director and Librarian 




General Book Collections 

Volumes 6,003,396 

Special Collections 

Rare Books and Manuscripts 1,225,272 

Prints 1,148,400 

Patents 9,000,167 

Maps 325,706 

Government Documents 2,545,282 

Musical Scores 99,486 


Current Subscriptions 16,436 

Non-Print Material 

Audio-Recordings 305,963 

Films & Other Projected Visuals 12,812 

Pictorial Works 519,326 

Microforms 3,717,453 



Visitors 2,403,497 

Programs 6,945 

Program Attendance 207,444 

Items Borrowed 1,817,969 

Volumes Consulted 984,974 

Reference Inquiries 1,135,341 

Photocopies 1,412,360 








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