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THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
"T/je Stoiy Lady" enchants and mesmerizes her audience.
ANNUAL REPORT 1988-1989
THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
For the Year Ending June 30, 1989
With a Summary of the
Report of the Examining Committee
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City Document 15—1988-1989
Trustees of the Public Library
City of Boston
Kevin F. Moloney, President
William M. Bulger, Vice President
Berthe M. Gaines
Doris Reams Goodwin
Marianne Rea Luthin
.\NNLIAL REPORT 1988-1989
The Boston Public Libran' published a remarkable little book this year, the
original writings of adult learners exploring their pasts, their psyches, and
their new power with words. The work is titled it's never easy. In one proudly
constructed essay. Maggie sums up how she adds to her knowledge: "Learning
any skill means I have to listen hard. I have to take my time and I have to
follow each step carefully."
Maggie's message describes aptly the path followed by the Library
administration and staff in FY89. We had to listen hard to the community and
to legislators — to all the people affecting or affected by the Librar^^ We had to
move in measured step, taking thoughtful, probing time to deal with a fiscal
crisis. And through analysis and planning, we proceeded toward resolution of
problems, step by step.
With its marked ups and down's, this year was never easy: but in its
totality the year added a milestone to Boston Public Librar>' histor>' as we
neared the end of a decade. A local publication paid tribute to our institution
with the following citation: "Boston Magazine is pleased to honor the Boston
Public Librar>' as Best Revamped Local Resource in recognition of Quality and
Excellence. Best of Boston. 1988." In the following report we shall pursue
those steps of revamping and follow our route toward quality and excellence.
A WORLD-CLASSAVORLD-CONSCIOUS LIBR.\RY
Sometimes in expressing our pride in the Librar>''s collections and
performance, we describe the Boston Public Libran.' as a "world-class
institution." We speak in the context of an institution, which reaches beyond
provincial bounds, which is sought by patrons throughout the United States
and abroad, which ranks with the nation's leading university research
facilities. We see the Boston Public Library' as a resource of important books,
serials, manuscripts, but — more than that — as a generator, a primary' source of
research and information for books published and books yet to come.
Such a world-class status was demonstrated repeatedly this past year.
Among the visitors who sought out the Library to conduct research, to tour, to
meet with staff, and to discuss the Boston Public Library' as it related to their
own institutions were the following: a community librarian from Auckland.
New Zealand, here for a study tour; a member of the Council for Cultural
Planning and Development from Taiwan; the deputy director of the State
Library of Victoria. Australia; the commission president of the San Francisco
Public Library to discuss his city's plans to build a new main library and to
restore branch facilities; visitors from \'enezuela to view equipment for the
sensory-disabled in the Access Center; an educator from the Canberra College
of Higher Education in Canberra. Australia, to observe materials and services
for children; 15 visitors from Japan, including both professional and amateur
binders; guests from the State University Libran' in Denmark; two librarians
from Finland with particular interest in our Rare Books and Manuscripts
Department; and two library' student interns from Wales.
Probably the most vivid measure of a libran^'s performance as a
research center is its use by scholars and the publications emanatinj^ from
such use. This past year tallied a remarkable number of works published or
works in progress represented by both permissions requests and
acknowledgments of the Library^ staff and materials. Evidences of such use
included a request for transparencies for a catalog from The Rijksmuseum,
The Netherlands; from a Japanese scholar to quote letters of Emily Dickinson;
from the University of Buckingham, England, to quote the letters of Harriet
Martineau; from an Italian scholar desirous of citing passages from Mrs.
Radcliffe's manuscript. Dozens of other scholars and writers from colleges and
universities throughout the United States, from the National Museum of
American History of the Smithsonian Institution, and other museums and
foundations called upon the Librar\''s rich resources.
Acknowledgments of the aid provided by Library staff and materials
were as numerous as the attributions cited above. Publication credits to the
Boston Public Library appeared in a bulletin by Dr. \'. G. Marshall on the
North End molasses disaster, published by the Institution of Chemical
Engineers in Rugby, England; Hendrik Edelman's The Dutch Language Press
in America, published by DeGraaf in The Netherlands: Stephen Tabor's Sylvia
Plath: An Analytical Bibliography, published by Mansell in London; and many
other works released by popular and university presses here and abroad. All
this is testament to the Library as a world-class center of scholarship.
Throughout the branches and central library, countries and cultures
were focal points of exhibitions, lectures, programs, and publications. Among
the major exhibitions were several particularly strong representations of
people in remote parts of the globe. From South America came the substance
of an exhibit developed under a grant from the New England Foundation for
the Arts. "Scraps of Life: Chilean Arpilleras.'^ Featured were 40 arpilleras.
colorfully embroidered and appliqued tapestries from Chile that depict life
under the Pinochet regime. An anguished, moving portrait of people abroad
was the exhibit "Images of Vietnam and Its People," photographs of the
desperate lives of Vietnamese refugees in camps in Hong Kong.
Focusing on the mid-East were two exhibitions: "Msions of
•Jerusalem" by Israeli and Boston artists; and "Photographs of .lordan," views
of the ancient city of Petra. A far less sanguine exhibit with international
implications was "The .Judgment of Adolf Eichmann: Evil, the Media and
Society," which brought together mural photographs showing the trial of Adolf
The most extensive international exhibition assembled 1,000 current
books from the Soviet Union. Titled "The USSR: Perestroika and Glastnost,"
the display represented an exchange sponsored by the USIA (U.S. Information
Agency) and Goskomizdat, the Soviet State Committee for Publishing and
Printing. Six bilingual guides came from the Soviet Union to interpret the
exhibition for visitors. Simultaneously with this exhibit that traveled on to
Washington. D.G. and Los Angeles, an American collection titled "Many-
Booked America" was exhibited in Novosibirsk, Minsk, and Tiblisi in the
Soviet Union. The USIA noted that it was hoped that the "book-oriented
initiative will play an increasingly important role in promoting mutual
understanding and good will."
Children's books were an international ingredient in still another
Soviet-centered program. In "Glasnost Comes to Children's Literature,"
author/illustrator Frank Asch and XHadimir Vagin described their across-the-
sea collaboration on Here Comes the Cat, published by Scholastic Books.
Another ocean-spanning view of children's books in the Boston Public
Library brought Boston and the Emerald Isle in jump-rope proximity. The staff
of the Alice M. Jordan Collection created an exhibit, "Turas go Tir na nOg"
(Journey to the Land of Youth), which included more than 100 children's
publications in the Irish language. The Library and Kenny Bookshops and Art
Galleries Ltd. of Galway joined together to handle publicity and a selected
bibliography. As a result, Kenny was interviewed on National Irish Language
Radio, and the Boston Public Library received phone and mail requests from
Ireland for the booklist.
Again and again lecturers this year came from abroad or turned their
attention to international themes. Bostonians heard Chilean poet Marjorie
Agosin and translator Cola Franzen read from their new book Zones of Pain,
Las Zonas del Dolor. Professors Beatriz Manz and Lois Wasserspring of
Wellesley College presented a slide/talk, "Voices of Latin American Women."
Young people with global roots presented a compelling view of their
experiences in a program honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. All survivors of
conflict, they came from Cambodia, Haiti, Ireland, South Africa, and the U.S.
drug wars, speaking as "Children of War" to the youth of Boston.
AVhen Boston served as conference center for the Faith and Order
Commission of the World Council of Churches, the Library sponsored a
reception in the Cheverus Room, exhibiting for the event many ecumenical
materials donated to the Library by Dr. Robert Nelson.
Our pride in the strength of the Library for world-class research was
reinforced this year by a study by the Boston Library Consortium, a
cooperative network of major research libraries, which analyzed machine-
readable records for 1981-1985 monographs catalogued by member libraries.
In most of 23 broad subject divisions the Boston Public Library held the
highest number of items as well as the highest number of unique titles (those
not owned by any other member library).
One last example shows again the Library's participation on the world
stage, even as it calls attention to the power of the book and the monstrosity
of censorship. Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, was scheduled
to begin a U.S. book tour at the Boston Public Library during the week of
February 20. Just a few days in advance of his BPL talk. Ayatollah Khomeini
placed a million-dollar bounty on the author's head for his alleged defamation
of Islam, and Rushdie's book was pulled from many booksellers' shelves and
his tour canceled. Library Director Arthur Gurley described the treatment of
Rushdie as a "threat to the fundamental freedom of expression upon which
libraries are based."
RESEARCH LIBRARY SERVICES
Preparing to deal with the negative implications of the budget crisis, the
Research Division simultaneously sought increased revenue from grant
sources. Submissions were made to the U.S. Department of Education for
preservation microfilming and cataloging of the Brown Collection in the Music
Department and for cataloging a valuable collection on the Irish rebellion of
1798. Another grant request was submitted to the Massachusetts Council on
the Arts and Humanities for preservation microfilming of the Handel and
Successful funding came from the National Endowment for the
Humanities for cataloging Massachusetts newspapers as part of the
Massachusetts Newspaper Program. In March the Boston Public Library hosted
a three-day workshop in which Library of Congress staff offered training for
newspaper cataloging. Another successful grant was received from the
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to address the Library's
extensive backlog in cataloging.
Problems of space continued in all parts of the Research Library —
space for collections, service, and increasingly for electronic reference and
bibliographic stations. The introduction of computer technology points up the
urgency behind the McKim building renovation and its mandate for adequate
Collection development, ser\ices, programs, and exhibits were
handled for the most part by the individual departments of the Research
Library. The impact of automation in accelerating ser\ice and expanding
access to data was increasingly evident in all departments. A vivid description
of this impact came from the curator of Humanities Reference Sally Beecher:
"In early 1984 there were no signs of automation in the department. Now we
are fortunate to have access by terminals to the Library's holdings, to the
Faxon database, to the Boston Consortium Union List of Serials, to multiple
databases provided by DIALOG, mLSONLlNE. BRS, and MJ/TEXT and to the
international bibliographic holdings of OGLG. These sources have become part
of our daily routines — so much so that we have to stop and think how (or if)
we managed to get certain information before their advent. (This thought
process is forced upon us when we experience the dreaded 'downtime')."
In addition to their ongoing activities, staff of the Music Department
were contributors to several projects beyond the Library. The department
joined Opus Publications of New Haven in supplying items in the Librarj^'s
retrospective holdings of music periodicals for a series titled Nineteenth
Century American Music Periodicals on Microfilm. In return for its
participation, the Music Department receives free reels of microfilm. The staff
also shared its expertise this year in writing: Gharlotte Kolczynski reviewed for
Choice; Michael Rogan edited the publication Musical Woman and reviewed
for the Music Library Association's Notes; and staff joined Gurator Diane Ota
in the editing and production of the Newsletter of the New England Ghapter of
the Music Library Association. The Music Department represented its holdings
in several exhibits: among them, "Boston Musica Viva at Twenty"; "Spring
into Song"; "The Esplanade: Fifty Years of Musical Enjoyment"; and "History
of Recorded Opera from Wax to Gompact Disc." And programming of musical
events shared the department's agenda, from a concert by pianist Trudi Van
Slyck, featuring contemporary piano works including Walter Piston's
"Passacaglia." to pre-concert lectures by David Stockton, artistic director of
the Boston Goncert Opera.
This year the Fine Arts Department brought to a close the major
Peabody and Steams project with a final analysis and report. The project
assessed the physical condition and collected data on the intellectual content
of more than 1,300 rolls containing plans from the distinguished Peabody and
Steams architectural firm, which flourished between 1870 and 1917. In
addition to completing this project, the Fine Arts Department proceeded with
its high-volume reference services in person, by phone and letter, and through
Interlibrary Loan. The department responded to the increasing requests from
users for photocopies in several ways, both in-house and by arrangements with
Like the Music Department, Fine Arts shared its resources in a
microfilm project, loaning ten periodical titles to Gomell University for its
19th Gentury American Architectural Periodicals Research project. Other
materials were loaned to Wellesley Gollege and the French Library. In an
example of international outreach, Fine Arts loaned a copy of O. S. Fowler's A
Home for All or The Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building for exhibition
at the Institute and Museum of the Historv of Science in Florence.
The services of the Fine Arts Department and Curator Janice
Chadboume were repeatedly acknowledged this year in publications on art.
And the staff of the department joined other Research Library units in much
appreciated responses to queries in the "Ask the Globe" column of the Boston
Globe. A major tribute came to the department that read as follows: "The
Boston Preservation Alhance 1989 Preservation Award is presented to the Fine
Arts Department of the Boston Public Library for the conservation of the
architectural records of Peabody & Steams."
This year the Print Department continued its record of exceptional
growth in collections and major exhibitions. The department celebrated the
gift by Mrs. Merle Sherea in 1987 of prints and drawings by American artist
Thomas Handforth (1897-1948) with an exhibition in the Wiggin Gallery,
"Thomas Handforth and the Art of Travel." The exhibit featured items
reflecting the artist's travels during the 1920s and 1930s from his home in
Tacoma, Washington, to France, North Africa, the Orient, and elsewhere. Still
another important exhibit featured the etchings by an eminent father/son
team, Auguste and Eugene Delatre, as well as etchings they printed for such
artists as Meryon, Whistler, and Gassatt. Starting in the 1840s, August Delatre
taught artists and printers in Paris the nuances of the artistic printing of
etchings. The Library is fortunate in owning the contents of the Delatre studio
at the time of its closing after World War IL
Photographs from Library collections formed the centerpiece of
several Print Department exhibits this year: "A Gelebration of Photo-
graphy... Saluting the 150th Anniversary of the Invention of Photography";
"Diamonds in the Rough," which pictured baseball players from the 1890s
through the 1960s; "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys"; and, marking the
50th anniversary of the Quabbin Reservoir, "Quabbin" displayed photographs
by David Haas, the culmination of a six-year collaboration between the Boston
Public Library and Haas. In another collaboration, this time with the
distinguished Boston art collector John Merriam, the Print Department
mounted the exhibition "Seven from Boston." works by Bostonians Avakian,
Boyce, Dergalis, Gabin, di Giovanno, Given, and der Hohannesian.
The Print Department, like Fine Arts, is involved in the labor-
intensive serx'ice of responding to requests for copy photographs of items in
the Library's collections. As Keeper of Prints Sinclair Hitchings notes:
"Demand for photographic services continues to grow as the public learns
more about the pictorial riches in BPL collections." He recommends "setting
goals for a more efficient approach... preferably looking toward an office of
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department continued its outreach
and influence in scholarly efforts national and international, deserving much
credit for maintaining the Library' world-class status. In addition to many
receptions, dialogues, and conferences with donors, antiquarian book
specialists, visiting scholars, and government officials. Keeper of Rare Books
and Manuscripts Dr. Laura Monti and her staff designed several exhibits that
placed department rarities on view, many of them interpreted through
lectures. Among them: "Stinehour Press"; "Lafayette: A French and American
Hero"; "Columbus and His Voyages," a collection of posters shared by the
Italian government. Conservation of books and papers was extensive this year,
ranging from volumes in the Adams Collection and theater broadsides to
manuscript sheets from the Prince Collection and papers of the Sacco-Vanzetti
The Sound Archives Department proceeded this year in major
acquisition and inventory activities and maintained close association with the
Music Reference and Audio-Msual Departments. Budget restrictions hampered
full activities in this department, as in others. By year's end, the sound
archival holdings — compact discs, cassettes, eight-track tapes — had reached
the substantial figure of 256,516.
A key day in the Government Documents Department was the
inspection of the department in its role as a depository library for government
documents. Such an inspection day by a representative from the office of the
Superintendent of Documents takes place one day every five years and is
designed to insure that the Library is fulfilling its obligations under the law.
The inspector complimented the staff for their capability and dedication to
service. He noted certain deficiencies related to record-keeping, conditions of
space and lighting, and limitations to public accessibility because of the closed
stack policy. Many of these problems will be addressed with the renovation of
the McKim building.
In the midst of fiscal austerity, the department continued activities in
acquisitions, reference, maintenance of indices, and conducting tours. In
recognition of the department's unprecedented efforts in the distribution of tax
forms — more than 100,000 federal and state forms this year — the Internal
Revenue Ser\ice awarded the Government Documents Department a
Certificate of Appreciation.
While staff activities in programming were cut back by the Science
Reference Department this year, increased activity was devoted to staff
presentations on patents to colleges and universities. In addition to the
academic community's emphasis on the invention process, referrals and
requests for patent data came from the Patent Office, the Massachusetts
Department of Corporations, and local attorneys. Curator Marilyn McLean
was elected regional representative for the Patent Depository Association this
year and conducted their regional conference. She takes responsibility for the
Association's twice-yearly newsletter.
At the conclusion of the trial phase of the CASSIS CD/ROM project,
the Science Reference Department received a new CD, CD equipment, and a
new computer from the Patent Depository Office. Science Reference remains
the second heaviest user of CASSIS online across the nation.
The Social Sciences Department added major international efforts to
its busy reference regimen. Responses were processed to West Germany,
Switzerland, South Africa, Nigeria, and New Zealand, a world-reaching ser^ice
reflected as well in other Research Library departments. The department's
extensive in-person, telephone, and mail services were enhanced considerably
with the acquisition of a CD/ROM with access to three major databases. An
enthusiastic public and staff shared in the use of the new facilities for searches
and for printout of search results.
Senices provided this year by the Microtext Department were broad
and intensive, consistent with a centralized microform ser\'ice facility. In
addition to individual patrons, other institutions frequently approached the
department for guidance on microforms and equipment. Demonstrating the
range and demand for ser^'ices are these numbers for FY89: 108,172
microforms circulated; 86,527 photocopies produced in the department; 1,662
photocopies and 47 fiche duplicates made in response to 313 letters and
interlibrary loan requests; 5,264 rolls of microfilm and 162,480 microfiches
added this year. Acquisitions considerably expanded resources in the history of
women, music, fine arts, fashion, and American and South American history.
Staff of the Microtext Department offered special tours for school children and
visiting genealogists. Mini-exhibits on the reading machines introduced
students to department resources. The Newspaper Room continued its brisk
servicing of current newspaper, paging 43,116 newspapers for 20,743 patron
This year Kirstein Business Branch operated frequently as a "high-
pressure environment" in terms of numbers of patrons, many of them students
needing assistance, and the necessity of serving three floors. \Vhile problems
with equipment and antiquated aspects of the building persisted, positive gains
were made in the acquisition of several new resources, particularly directories.
Kirstein Business Branch was monitored this year in terms of service and
building needs and stands high on Research Library priorities for alleviation of
problems and automation. The branch was frequently targeted for tours led by
staff. It should be added here that tours and workshops were brisk in several
Research Library departments, which welcomed Boston subregion and Eastern
Region libraries to view the Library's collections and ser\ices.
In addition to mounting the exhibit of Irish children's books described
earlier, the Alice M. .Jordan Collection devoted special attention to the Year of
the Young Reader. Two major exhibitions were assembled: the first, "A Goodly
Heritage," highHghted New England authors and illustrators of children's
books, periodicals, serials — significant personalities in the children's field for
the past hundred years. The second exhibition. "Work with Children." brought
together archival membership lists, correspondence, oral history tapes, and
memorabilia of the New England Round Table of Children's Librarians, which
are on deposit in the Jordan Collection. The two exhibits and supportive
programs were titled "Our New England Past." A major program featuring
author/illustrator Barbara Cooney. a panel discussion, and an exhibition
catalog drew much professional and public interest. The exhibits were viewed
by a distinguished visitor. Dr. James H. Billington. Librarian of Congress, who
commended the Boston Public Library for its recognition of the Year of the
Several units in the Research Department and Administrative Services
defied staff and time constraints to perform effectively in behind-the-scenes
support of public service centers. Interlibrary Loan experienced considerable
growth in all categories of requests, and Catalog Information saw a rise in
numbers of phone calls and questions "coming over the desk." An expanded
phase of the Telefax project, funded in part by a grant from the Board of
Library Commissioners, by the year's end consisted of a network of 35
libraries. Requests numbering 7,897 were received and 7,741 were filled from
Boston Public Library and Consortium collections. Each of 2,171 of the
requests were filled by FAX within one hour of receipt.
Beyond the function of its name. Book Delivery put together and
distributed a departmental manual and conducted in-depth searching of gifts,
serials, transfers, and other categories of materials. Curator Scot Cornwall
described the establishment of a unified periodical center as predictably
beneficial to public service.
The "invisible" units most essential in bringing books from purchase
to patron (Business Office. Acquisitions, Cataloging. Processing. Book
Preparation, and Data Processing) not only dealt with volume of orders, but
with revisions in systems or procedures in cataloging and data processing.
COMMUNITY LIBRARY SERVICES
The branches and the General Library this year continued to demonstrate the
many roles of the free public library in an urban setting. The annual report of
the Codman Square Branch captures the dimensions of this role: "An inner-
city branch such as Codman Square provides essential ser\ices that are not
reflected in circulation figures. We provide literacy collections for adults, a
parents' shelf, a small but helpful medical and law reference section,
dictionaries and encyclopedias for families that cannot afford to buy books, an
extensive magazine collection, self-help for studying for exams in a wide
spectrum of human knowledge, an information referral center for community
and cultural events, and a directory for human services." Highlighted, too, in
the report is strong emphasis on dynamic reading and program services to
The Hbrary's role as meeting ground, as center for dialogue and
expression of concern was particularly evident this year. Again, from Godman
Square: "In the one square mile area around Godman Square there are
between 25 and 30 neighborhood block or street groups very vocal in their
concern about crime, vandalism, drugs, deterioration, boarded-up buildings,
and dying shopping centers. Our library has become a focal point for these
community groups to express these concerns as well as an information and
referral center for many of these problems."
In addition to bringing together concerned residents, libraries are
committed to acquiring current materials on current events, people, and
problems (with possible solutions). Speakers and films also spread before
audiences and participants the dimensions and impact of living in the city in
this decade. To cite a sampling of guidance and problem-solving programs of
FY89: "Ghild-rearing in the 80s," presented by Family Service of Greater
Boston (Brighton); "Gancer Prevention Through Diet and Nutritional Food
Ghoices," by the Gancer Information Ser\ice (Dudley); "Services for Your
Elderly Relations," Southwest Senior Ser\ices (Jamaica Plain); "Streetwise
and Street Smart: How to Take Gare of Yourself on the Streets," Jamaica Plain
Karate School (Gonnolly); "AIDS and AIDS Gare," Mission Hill Coalition
Against AIDS (Parker Hill). These programs represent only a sampling of the
Library's attention to current concerns and show as well the range of
cooperating agencies that share their expertise.
On several occasions branches and the central library achieved high
visibility by involvement in community fairs. Jamaica Plain/Gonnolly Branches
manned a booth at Jamaica Plain's World's Fair. Ghildren's Librarian Edith
Bravo presented a bilingual story hour at the Godman Square Fair. West End
Branch co-sponsored the second Community Resource Fair with the West
End/Beacon Hill Geriatric Interagency Council that brought together ten
social service agencies offering information on health, housing, and recreation.
South Boston Branch sponsored a library information booth at Family Fest '88
held at the John F. Kennedy Library. And once again the General Library
joined forces with the Boston Globe in presenting leading authors at the
annual Globe Book Fair.
In addition to representing contemporary times, branches and
General Library performed another library role as resource and program
centers on history, with emphasis on Boston history. Distinguished historian
Barbara Tuchman set the stage with a presentation in Rabb Lecture Hall on
her book The First Salute, a view of the American Revolution. The president
of the West Roxbury Historical Society gave a slide view of West Roxbury's
past; the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities sponsored a
program at Jamaica Plain Branch on historic houses in New England; the
Castle Island Association offered "Castle Island. Then and Now" at South
Boston Branch. Charlestown Branch patrons learned of "17th and 18th
Century Holiday Customs at the Paul Revere House"; and Lower Mills Branch
called upon officers of the Dorchester Historical Society for its National
Endowment for the Humanities series on Lower Mills.
Branch Librarian Barbara Wicker of Hyde Park Branch responded to a
request from Southwest Boston Community Services to help produce a video
on the agency. For this project she wrote a script on the history of Hyde Park,
focusing on physical and population changes over the years and the uniqueness
of the community. The finished product served as a program centerpiece this
past summer and promises continuing use as a resource. In still another
creative effort. Adults Services Librarian Paula Posnick of West End Branch
founded the West End Historical Committee and undertook an oral history
taping project. Recorded by a camcorder purchased through agency donations,
elderly citizens offered their reminiscences in the branch or in their homes. In
other West End projects, the editor of the West End Newsletter gave a visual
tour of the area in the '50s, using slides from photos in Herbert Gans's book
The Urban Villagers. Books were also the base for the West End Branch series,
"Our Literary Heritage, 19th Century Writers In and Around Boston."
At South Boston Branch some 400 people attended a celebration of
the publication of South Boston: My Home Town, the first history of South
Boston to be issued since the turn of the century. The Honorable Thomas H.
O'Connor, historian at Boston College and member of the Bicentennial
Commission on the U.S. Constitution, was honored as the author. And
throughout the city, in all branch libraries and central, even the youngest
patrons gave animated attention to the history of their city by joining the
summer reading club with this year's theme "Boston Is My Hometown."
Community Library Services gave unabated attention in both
acquisitions and programming to the city's rich ethnic variegation. Like the
activities already described in the FY88 annual report, programming this year
ranged from a lecture at the North End Branch on Italian genealogy to a talk
by poet Valerie Foxx on "The Black Experience in Drama and Poetry" at
Dudley Branch, and celebration of the Chinese New Year at Connolly.
Caroline Young, General Library, wrote articles in Chinese for the Sampan,
Boston's bihngual newspaper, to introduce Chinese readers to collections and
ser\ices of the Library. She also wrote introductory handouts which tell how
to find books and periodicals in the Library.
The Library continued, also, a dynamic range of exhibits and
activities for all groups in their various roles as children, teenagers, students,
parents, senior citizens, and people with special needs. Librarians visited
1,494 school classes reaching almost 30,000 children; and, in return, 23,337
children visited branch libraries and central for programs and tours. Total
attendance of children at film and other activities in libraries numbered
146,357. Thus the Boston Public Library productively observed what was
designated nationally as The Year of the Young Reader.
Reading Is Fundamental activities were sponsored by H. P. Hood
Company, Digital Equipment, and Fidelity Investments at Gharlestovvn,
Dudley, and Fields Comer Branches. Stellar event of the year for young
patrons was the appearance of "The Story Lady" at branches throughout the
city. Reports on the story hours delivered by Jackie Torrence described her
impact on her young listeners in unmatched hyperbole. It was variously
reported that she "entranced," "mesmerized," and "engrossed" her audiences.
As Roslindale Branch's report put it, "Jackie Torrence held 250 children and
adults spellbound as she wove her magic."
Teenagers were targeted this year in book acquisitions geared to their
interests and in film programs and lectures on such topics as individualized
library instruction and guidance on science projects. The Young Adult
Department of the General Library sponsored its annual Creative Writing
Workshop with author Deborah Savage speaking on writing techniques and
publishing. The Young Adult Teen Tutor Project, fimded in February 1988 by a
grant from "Teens as Community Resources," became fully functional this
year in the Young Adult Department. In this project, students tutored their
peers in algebra and Latin. A solid collection of books, tapes, and videos was
purchased to assist tutors in their contact with "tutees."
An innovative, collaborative effort directed at teens involved the
Young Adult Department with the Judge Connelly Youth Center, a facility for
incarcerated young men ages 13 to 18. In consultation with reading teachers
at the center. Young Adult staff selected books for deposit there, served as
advisors on daily operation procedures, shelving, and furniture for the
establishment of a library at the facility. For their assistance, librarians
Catherine Clancy and Laura Peale were honored at a testimonial luncheon.
The report on this cooperation notes that "through this interagency contact
we are making a difference in the lives of young adults whom we would
otherwise never reach." In other Young Adult activities, the Library staff
joined area libraries in creating a Young Adult Librarian Network to share
ideas on books and programming.
Activities for adults that frequently reach teenagers as well were, as
always, numerous and varied on themes related to their roles as parents and
citizens — concerns of health, finance, self improvement, leisure entertainment,
and hobbies. The total attendance at branch/central-sponsored lectures, films,
discussions, receptions, and other events numbered 58,380.
For almost 40 years the Boston Public Library has built a special
program of service to senior adults. That record of involving such patrons as
contributing/leaming/influential members of the community remains still the
approach of the Library. They are not on-the-shelf people lapsing into limp old
age, but people of vitality and power. Variously referred to in branch activities
as "elders," "senior adults," "young in heart," the group over 60 are most
commonly called "Never Too Late" patrons. In the 39th anniversary program
of the General Library Never Too Late group, the oldest library-sponsored
gathering in the nation, Helen Heineman, Professor of English at Framingham
State College, lectured on "Francis Trollope: A Career at Mid-Life." True to
the objectives of the program, this event was intellectually challenging. A total
of almost 7,000 people attended the series in central in FY89.
The recently established Access Center was a particularly effective
arm in the Library's efforts for people with special needs. The first anniversary
of the center was observed in December: "the most significant, encouraging,
and heartwarming event (of the center] of FY89. More than 70 people
attended, representing a range of disabled people — blind/visually impaired,
deaf/hearing impaired, mobility impaired. Attendees were genuinely interested
in the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the Apple-enhanced computers, the Versa-
Braille, the close-captioned cassettes, and the book/periodical collection." As
part of its consideration of users with special needs, FM receivers were made
available to 45 hearing-impaired persons at 20 programs.
Shut-ins and residents and clientele of nursing homes, hospitals, and
youth and senior centers received attention from branches and Extension
Services in the form of deposits of materials which totaled 268,396 items. Still
another group receiving special materials and services were the adult learners
in ABE (Adult Basic Education) classes, ranging from citizens with English as a
second language (ESL) to people with learning disabilities. Buttressed by
several grants (hsted in the Gifts and Grants section), the Library acquired
background materials on adult literacy, and literacy resource collections were
created in 14 branches and in the central library. Spearheaded by a Boston
Public Library Coordinating Committee on Literacy, the Library has advanced
rapidly in reaching many of Boston's thousands of refugees and immigrants as
well as adults stalled at the 5th grade reading level. The energies of the
Coordinating Committee moved this year from evaluation and acquisition of
materials to outreach efforts and to devising strategies to find and serve the
targeted clientele. A key component in these efforts is collaboration with
university and community specialists. For example, Godman Square Branch
works closely with ^VEA^^. an adult literacy group, and the Haitian Multi-
The Audio-Visual Department chalked up another remarkable year in
circulation of films to Boston Public Library units and community
organizations and to Eastern Regional libraries. The department showed its
almost legendary imagination in translating its film resources into program
series unified by actor, genre, director, and such — e.g. "Salute to Charlie
Chaplin" on his 100th birthday; "Ode to James Joyce"; "Performance by
Poitier," and famous silent films. The department also complemented Library
exhibits and programs with related film screenings. Audio-Visual statistics for
FY89 recorded 18,827 audio-cassettes and recordings circulated; 8,725 films
used by Eastern Regional libraries and 4,416 used by Boston PubHc Libraries
and community organizations.
Community Library Services embarked this year on the circulation of
audio-cassettes with marked success. Branch reports repeatedly cited user
approval of the newly introduced format. Adams Street commented on the
"steady circulation" of children's cassettes. Charlestown Branch reported that
the cassettes circulated "briskly" among children and adults, noting that the
favorites were music, narrations of popular titles, and follow-along easy
readers. Parker Hill Branch summarized the impact of audio-cassettes: "The
circulation has been phenomenal. Almost all of the children's and most of the
adult literacy tapes we own are circulating at any given time."
The Library added video-cassettes to the collection including
cassettes of interest to professional librarians — book production, grants-
manship, storytelling, labor relations, foreign language, computer appli-
cations, and Video Classics donated by the MacArthur Foundation. Plans
continue for future acquisition of video-cassettes for circulation to individuals.
With the purchase of a large portable screen and a video projector, it
became possible for overflow crowds, beyond the seating and safety limits of
Rabb Lecture Hall, to see the hall programs off-site.
Installation of terminals for the automated circulation system was completed
this year. As East Boston Branch described the new technology: "The staff has
taken to the DRA system and isn't afraid of the new technology. Registration of
borrowers began in January." The system will make three million books and
non-print materials more accessible by linking electronically all branch
libraries with the circulating collections in the General Library and the Metro-
Boston Library Network. The network system has been made possible by 2.2
million dollars in grants from the federal and state governments in addition to
ongoing support from network cities and towns. At the program celebrating
the restoration of Connolly Branch, the first library card for the new system
was issued, a card made of gray plastic with a motif of Library lanterns.
Other uses of equipment that expedited service goals were reported
by Brighton Branch, noting a brisk use of electronic mail and FAX. West
Roxbur\', Godman Square, and Brighton Branches reported the value of
Infotrac in periodical searching. As Brighton noted, "Infotrac, in combination
with FAX. increased the timeliness of retrieving periodical articles."
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
The tradition of bringing university-level lectures to interested adults was
pursued this year with vitality and variety in lecture series funded by the
Library's endowment from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Reactions to the mind-stretching experiences were typified by the enthusiasm
in participants at the Grove Hall sequence where Representative Byron
Rushing presented "Roxbury, A Political Geography": "a fascinating and highly
informative look at the history of our community. Attendees, whether lifelong
residents of Roxbury or new arrivals, left each program looking forward to the
Other series, ranging from literature to history and art were:
"Portraits of the Artist," Thomas O'Grady (Hyde Park).
"Irish Dissent," Prof. Francis Phelan, Stonehill College
"Reviewing the Black Past: A History of Blacks Making
Movies about Themselves." Dr. Glyde Taylor, Tufts
University (Godman Square).
"Gelebration of Boston Area Painters," Museum of Fine
Arts Boston (Fields Gomer).
"Writing Lives: The Art and Graft of Biography." Justin
Kaplan, Gynthia Wolff, Susan Quinn, Mary Helen
"Good Olde Dorchester," Dorchester Historical Society
"Imagining Boston: A Look at Four Novels." Prof.
Shaun O'Gonnell, University of Massachusetts (Parker
"Aladdin's Lamp Revealed: A Journey Through the
Arab World," Edmond J. Moussally, Northeastern
"Inventing Ireland and Other Memories of the Future,"
Padraig O'Malley, University of Massachusetts/Boston
"The Architect's Dream: Boston Buildings from
Bulfinch to Blackall," Prof. Gerald S. Bernstein,
Brandeis University (South End and Jamaica Plain).
"Literary Dublin: A Look at Modern Irish Literature,"
Herbert A. Kenny (Adams Street).
Among the annual lectureships presented this year were the following:
Mary U. Nichols Book Awards Program: Robert O'Brien,
Executive Director of the North End Union, spoke on "The
North End Union in the Decade of the Nineties," focusing on
the changes the depression of the central artery may bring to
the area in the next ten years.
10th annual Gibbons Memorial Lecture: Father James
DiPerri lectured on the history of the Catholic Church in
W. A. Dwiggins Lecture, co-sponsored with the Society of Printers: A
dialogue between Mathew Carter and Carl Zahn, "Design of Type;
Design with Type."
This report began with reference to a small book with large implications, it's
never easy, published this year by the Library in collaboration with the Family
Learning Center at Boston University. The 13 authors of short pieces in the
book deal in quiet power with their pasts, their coming to America, and their
aspirations. As Worth Douglas, District Supervisor for the Brighton district and
project coordinator for the Library, says in her introduction: "To produce a
single short story is not easy." And again: "It requires a willingness to think
seriously, face parts of our lives which may be hurtful, and organize our ideas
and thoughts in such a way that those who read the words will understand our
An equally exciting publication also originated this year in the
Brighton district. Children are the authors of a handsome little newsletter The
Oak Leaf. Published bimonthly, it contains the writing of young people from
the Oak Square/Brighton neighborhoods and schools. The newsletter consists
of short stories, poetry, puzzles, book reviews, and a list of new books and
programs at the Faneuil Branch.
The Research Library issued a bibliography and supplement of an
important recent purchase by the Library, a collection of books on the Soviet
Union published in the Soviet Union. The list was printed with the assistance
of the Eastern Regional Office and distributed to Massachusetts libraries and
other interested institutions.
Several booklists and manuals were published this year by depart-
ments — booklists on children's literature by the Jordan Collection, a
departmental manual put together by Book Delivery, also annual booklists for
Black History Month and for the Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs.
Staff of Reader and Information Services compiled several subject biblio-
graphies. A color-coded directory of department and service locations of the
central libraries was produced for display and handout.
STAFF AND FRIENDS
Repeatedly this report has called attention to the commitment and energy of
staff in their service to the public, their readiness to learn new technologies,
their involvement in outreach, their contributions behind the scenes as well as
in visible activities. And repeatedly the Trustees and administration have
acknowledged staff efforts to maintain levels of serA'ice during a crisis period.
In a special tribute to two retiring staff members who have worked in the
Boston Public Library for almost 100 years, the Trustees paid tribute to B.
Joseph O'Neil, Supervisor of the Research Library, and M. Jane Manthome,
Assistant Director for Communications and Community Affairs and Clerk of
the Corporation. In a resolution on 22 December 1988, the Trustees cited Mr.
O'Neil's loyal service, professionalism, resourcefulness and ingenuity in
reference service, dedication to the preservation of Massachusetts newspapers,
and direction of programs related to newspapers. The Trustees named him
Curator of Newspapers Emeritus.
In a resolution on Jane Manthome. the Trustees cited her dedication,
her distinction in many areas of librarianship, her presidency of the Young
Adult Services Division of A.L.A., and other professional accomplishments.
Mindful of her great interest in ser\ices to young adults, the Trustees
established a scholarship in her name for grants to staff for either formal study
or continuing education in the field of Young Adult Services.
Branch Friends groups continued their active support in program
sponsorship and fundraising. A new Friends organization was launched this
year at East Boston Branch. In another first, the Associates of the Boston
PubHc Library estabhshed the Epstein Award for Outstanding Career
Achievement in Screenwriting. The first award was presented to Ruth Prawer
Jhabvala and the award event included the screening of two of her films. The
Associates also sponsored several other Library events including presentations
of plays and play-reading, co-sponsored with New Voices; and a pre-election
panel of leading columnists and commentators, "Five Days to Go^and Then
Many capital improvements for branch library buildings remained in the
planning stage or on hold this year. Attention to urgent needs such as roof
repair, handicap access, and asbestos removal was accomplished at several
branches. New gas-fired boilers were installed at East Boston and Jamaica
Priority was accorded throughout the Library to security with
resultant improved exterior lighting, construction of secure rooms for storage
of equipment, and installation of alarm systems linked directly to the Boston
Municipal Police. The effectiveness of the alarm system was rather
dramatically demonstrated at Parker Hill Branch when — as the branch report
notes — "a would-be thief was apprehended while climbing down the library
The improvements in branches met with staff and public
appreciation. At their annual meeting. Friends of the Hyde Park Branch held a
dedication ceremony for the newly installed handicap ramp. Orient Heights
Branch acknowledged the generous donation of the branch building and land
by members of the Druker family, with the unveiling of a bronze plaque. A
Boston Works Smarter grant was awarded to Julie Brandl's suggestion for
completion of plexiglass guards on all the inside ramps of Brighton Branch.
The most celebratory event occurred on October 1 at Connolly
Branch in recognition of the handsome renovation completed there. Mayor
Flynn, numerous political/civic leaders, and a large turnout of residents were
in attendance. The new circulation system was officially launched with the
presentation of the first library cards to Mayor Flynn, Library Director Arthur
Curley, and a neighborhood child.
McKIM BUILDING RESTORATION
The McKim project proceeded on several fronts this year: submission and
approval (or approval pending) with several regulatory agencies in terms of
handicap access, exit requirements for health and public safety, and historical
appropriateness. Architects Shepley. Bulfinch. Richardson, and Abbott. Inc.
substantially completed working drawings for phase one of the restoration,
predicting that the project will go out to bid in 1989. Word was received that a
construction grant in the amount of 87,000.000 will be awarded by the
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
In commemoration of the centennial of the laying of the cornerstone
on 28 November 1898. the Library mounted an exhibition. "A Tribute to the
People's Palace," featuring books, photos, and archival materials.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE LIBRARY
Preparations moved forward this year for the launching of the major
fundraising effort of the Library with the appointment of distinguished
citizen/leaders, denoted as a Partnership for the Library's Future. The
Partnership comprises Walter J. Connolly, Jr., chairman and CEO, Bank of
New England, who serves as chair; Honorable William M. Bulger, president,
Massachusetts State Senate; Doris Keams Goodwin, author; Rosalind E. Gorin,
president. H. N. Gorin Associates. Inc.; Edward C. Johnson III. chairman and
CEO. Fidelity Management; Bertram M. Lee, president, BML Associates; E.
James Morton, chairman and CEO. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance
Company; Ira Stepanian. president and CEO. Bank of Boston; William 0,
Taylor, chairman, publisher, and CEO, Globe Newspaper Company. Meetings
of the group have been held to explore strategies and the possibility of altering
the governance of the Librarv'^ to expand the base for reachout to likely donors.
Behind-the-scenes activities within the Development Office of the
Library continued. A major achievement of the year was the production by
Communications for Learning of "This Is Ours; The Campaign for The
Library," an 18-minute, multi-projector slide show as well as video-cassettes
for use in the fundraising.
GRANTS AND GIFTS
Major contributions in funding and in kind added to the Library's growth in
collections and programs this year. Gifts ranged from thousands of dollars to
single copies of books. As the Gifts Librarian Margaret Bowles expressed it,
"Gifts [of books] can play an important role in maintaining stack integrity; and
with the fiscal uncertainty that exists, 'free' material can be a great assist."
The total number of gifts received this year (books — hardcover and
paperback — serials and magazines, recordings, and other formats) reached
29,072 items. A "surprise" bequest of 8345.000 came from lawyer Herman
Leventhal, who in his retirement had become almost a daily user of the Boston
Public Library. A former client remembers him as an astute lawyer and a fine
and honest man. The Library will remember him for his great generosity.
A partial list of grants and gifts follows:
Junior League of Boston (for Art and Architectural
Tour Program) 830,000
Boston Foundation of Architects (for same program) 1.000
Associates of the Boston Public Library for tour
director's salary 7,500
Fidelity Foundation (for Gonnick brochure) 11,315
Department of Education/LSGA I
(for Datalink Sharing for Boston area) 221,000
(for outreach to Hispanic parents & children) 27,035
(for Supervisory Skills Workshops) 25,100
LSGA M (for literacy collection) 25,000
Title II-G for Massachusetts Newspaper Program
LSGA II for McKim restoration 221,922
New England Foundation for the Arts
(for Design of Motley exhibition) 2,500
(for Ghilean exhibition) 5,425
Board of Library Gommissioners
(programming for Motley exhibition) 2,500
(processing Research Library backlog) 311,509
Association of Research Libraries
System wide Preservation Survey — stipend 1,000
Systemwide Preservation Survey — in kind 10,000
ShoUey Foundation (for literacy collection) 1,500
Boston Globe Foundation 1.000,000
Weber Gharities 10,000
Surdna Foundation (for Visiting Scholar,
Print Department) 75,000
H. P. Hood (Reading Is Fundamental) 2,000
Digital (Reading Is Fundamental) 2,000
Fidelity Investment (Reading Is Fundamental) 3,000
B. Dalton (Reading Is Fundamental) 3,000
MacArthur Foundation (for PBS Video Glassies
Series, in kind) 18,000
Boston Foundation — Greenspace for East Boston 3,000
GIFTS (a partial Ust)
Anderson. Wayne: 1,400 art books and catalogs.
Bendiner Collection: a succession of gifts establishing at BPL
one of the finest existing collections of the drawings and
prints of Alfred Bendiner of Philadelphia.
Boston Authors Club: S250.
Boston University. Mugar Library: 173 spiral-bound paperbacks,
522 hardcover cookbooks. 22 bound magazines on cooking.
Brothers, Dr. Joyce: 107 paperbacks. 96 hardcovers, all review
Bernard Ghaet Collection: 100 drawings.
Cohasset Public Library: 700 monographs.
Fogg Art Museum: 1,000 auction catalogs.
Gutche, Genem, composer: his works.
Grady. John: 139 paperback books. 71 magazines, 71 other items.
Estate of H. Earle Johnson for Music Department: S 10,000.
Estate of Herman Leventhal: 8345,000.
Middleboro Public Library: 270 monographs.
O'Connor. L J.: S500.
Reher, Sven: composer: his works.
Roden, Stephanie: 210 sound recordings. 119 books, and
36 album sets.
Rybum. Donna and Scott: 87,500.
Slater, Mr. and Mrs.: 3.000 items — popular song sheets, jazz
collections, piano teaching methods, and classical piano
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department received many gifts
consisting of letters, authors' autographed works, also an ultra-violet light for
reading very faint documents.
The positive momentum of FY88 threatened to come to a halt in the latter half
of this year. The services which had begun implementation with the master
plan adopted by the Trustees in January 1986, "A Program to Rebuild and
Revitalize the Resources and Services of the Boston Public Library" were
severely threatened. And the crisis put in hazard, as well, the staff which had
been recently recruited, the hours which had been restored, the materials
earmarked for purchase — all the elements in the master plan for growth and
progress, for the rejuvenation of the Boston Public Library.
On 9 February 1989. the Trustees adopted the FY90 budget proposal
for submission to the Budget Office, a process scheduled to be followed by
action by the Mayor and the City Council. Subsequent to adoption by the
Trustees, Kevin Moloney, president of the Board, commended Library
management for the "depth and quality of analysis" of the proposal.
The budget request of 822,466,366 represented a maintenance level,
including provision of staffing for the addition to the West Roxbury Branch and
the Literacy Center at Dudley Branch. The city's Office of Budget and Program
Evaluation recommended a budget of 818,500,300, 8969,980 less than the
Library's current budget and a shortfall of 83,966,066 from the FY90 request.
The proposed budget will require a 20 percent cut in Personnel in addition to
a million dollar cut in non-personnel costs. In a Trustees' meeting of 1 May
1989, Moloney concluded that the Library was facing "extremely grave
financial circumstances." If the funding situation were to remain unchanged,
he noted that "major surgery" in hours and services would be necessary
throughout the Library. Moloney described the crisis as a direct result of the
state's decision to decrease local aid to cities and towns augmented by a
Budget Office use of a wrong payroll figure in projecting the personnel budget.
As the end of FY89 approached, a wave of action swelled in several
sectors. Faced with the imminent realities of a bleak fiscal situation, the
Library management drew up a Program of Service Reductions, a devastating
counterpoint to the program for revitalization. Director Arthur Gurley called
the reductions "a fundamental blow to the achievements over the past four
years in circulation, program attendance, and library use." The cutbacks
proposed were widespread including elimination of summer Saturday hours,
continued elimination of Sunday service in central, decreased acquisition of
books and serials, deferred opening of the Dudley Literacy Center, and
numerous other reductions recorded in the Minutes of the Trustees'
Administrative Meeting of 5 June 1989. As FY89 neared an end. the crisis —
described by Arthur Curley as a "threatened disaster" — mandated the issuance
of layoff notices to more than one hundred staff members.
Throughout the spring and early summer the Library had studied in
depth virtually all possible options that finally resulted in the "extremely
painful and unfortunate developments" here described. In response,
neighborhoods went into action. Meetings were held with state legislators to
seek restoration of local aid and with city officials to seek review of the impact
of the budget. Friends groups in branches and the Citywide Friends were
mobilized, rallying to a cause reminiscent of 1981's Proposition 2 1/2 and its
threat of cutbacks. More than 7,000 citizens signed petitions that were
forwarded to the mayor; the Trustees and administration joined Friends in
branch libraries to review the crisis; local newspapers interviewed branch
librarians and pubHshed articles on the "gravity of the situation." Some staff
members, facing loss of their jobs, accepted positions in other libraries.
The Boston Globe contributed a free full-page ad to the Friends in
support of their cry to restore funds. Even the children of Boston were
involved. Channel 7's program. "Ready To Go." interviewed youngsters at the
South Boston Branch on their opinions of the proposed budget cuts.
So it was that deep concern reached into each neighborhood and
stirred citizens to action. The branch librarian of South End said, "Now after
about five or six hard years of work to really get the branch moving, we will
now be going backwards." And the Hyde Park librarian summarized: "It's hard
to believe that a fiscal year that began with such promise could end on such a
After all this, FY89 ended with a degree of hope for library service;
the possibility emerged of a partial restoration of the requested budget. On 28
June, layoff notices for 7 July were postponed to 14 July while the Library
awaited the resolution of the budget crisis.
Director and Librarian
General Book Collections
Rare Books and Manuscripts
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PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE CITY OF BOSTON
Berthe M. Gaines, Chair
Joan Byrne, Vice Chair
V. Paul Deare
Paul J. Lynch
Robert D. Stueart
Mary Van Meter
EXAMINING COMMITTEE REPORT: A Summan^
The Examining Committee that convened for 1987-1989 was aware that the
previous committee had done a superb, exhaustive report. The new committee
decided to review the prior report and then focus on a few major concerns.
The following summation of the findings of three subcommittees demonstrates
that each area has been addressed in a cogent, meaningful manner.
McKim Building Restoration and
The subcommittee reviewed the three phases of the restoration of the McKim
building and the work to be accomplished within each phase. The
architectural firm, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, has produced the
design and working drawings for the project.
Phase I. which will be publicly funded at a cost of approximately 16
million dollars, will focus on the infrastructure — the plumbing, electrical,
heating, and air-conditioning systems. This phase will also include some
restoration work on the magnificent murals, refurbishing the grandeur of the
interior of the main entrance, and construction of a tea room and bookstore.
Basement space, presently used exclusively for storage, will be recaptured for
public use as exhibition rooms and lavatories. The inclusion of more than
infrastnicture work is considered important for fundraising purposes.
Phase II will be directed towards the second floor of the McKim
building: restoration of the floors and walls of Bates Hall and relocation of the
book deliver)' desk to the Eliot Room. As part of the second floor restoration, a
photocopying center will be added, the periodicals will be consolidated, and
the science department will be relocated to the Johnson building.
Phase III, centered on the third floor, will include the conversion of
the north wing into an area for the display of special collections and the
creation of a large reading and reference area for the Print Department, The
art work on all levels will be restored.
Since 1986 a professional fundraiser, Corcoran Associates, has been working
with the Board of Trustees and the management of the Library to develop and
implement a fundraising campaign. As an initial step in that campaign, a group
of distinguished corporate and civic leaders came together and formed the
"Partnership for the Librar>''s Future." [For names of members, see page 19 of
the Annual Report for FY1988-89 to which this report is appended.]
.\fter four meetings, including management and staff briefings on
Libran' operations and the campaign's goals and time frame, the Partnership
feels positive about Librar>' management and the campaign. From all reports.
the Partnership believes that the campaign has been well conceived and its
financial goals are conservative. The Partnership has recommended that the
ultimate goal, from public fimds and private fimdraising. be increased from
fifty to eighty million dollars. It is further recommended, in light of the
magnitude of the project, that the Board of Trustees be expanded from five to
nine members and that a twenty-five-member Board of Overseers be created.
As a result of the Partnership's findings. Mayor Raymond L. Flynn
submitted a home rule petition to the City Council seeking to reorganize the
governance of the Librar\^ The petition for expansion of the Board to nine
members was passed in amended form by the City Council on .lanuarA^ 24,
1989. This amended petition contains language that requires that the Mayor's
appointments to the Board of Trustees be confirmed by the City Council. The
Mayor has yet to sign the petition.
On .lanuary 25. 1989. an amendment to the ordinance relative to the
powers and duties of the Board of Trustees empowered the Trustees to create
a 25-member Board of Overseers. This amendment was passed by the City
Council and became effective on April 26, 1989.
The subcommittee views the fundraising campaign as stalled at this
time. There is a risk, if the campaign does not commence soon, that the
ultimate success is in jeopardy. The impression would be created that it had
made "a sputtering start." The subcommittee recommends that the campaign
consider immediate commencement, regardless of whether the Board of
Tnistees has been expanded to nine members.
Subcommittee on Buildings
After reviewing Examining Committee reports for 1983-84 and 1986-87. this
subcommittee decided to give primary attention to maintenance and repairs of
branch library' buildings.
Recognizing that to conduct a thorough analysis of the main-
tenance/repair process would require time and resources not available to the
subcommittee, the group limited themselves to lines of accountability in the
process and branch librarians' perceptions of how the process works.
Data for the report were gathered in part through interviews with
management in the Library responsible for buildings maintenance and repairs
(assistant director for physical plant and operations) and the city department
responsible for capital repairs (assistant commissioner. Public Facilities
Department). Data were obtained from branch librarians through circulation
of 14 questionnaires with 13 respondents. Questions asked in the survey of
librarians dealt with the job description of the custodian assigned to their unit,
the quality of training and supervision, their evaluation of the work done, the
time allocated their unit for such work, and the librarians' power to deal with
concerns about their buildings, also to whom they address their problems and
the resultant response and action. Lastly, librarians were asked to suggest and
rank in importance changes or improvements in the entire maintenance
Branch librarians offered often vehement responses. They pointed out
their total absence of a supervisory role in maintaining their units and a
circuitous, slow route to address the needs of their buildings. They noted that
the line of command flows from the assistant director for physical plant and
operations to two supervisors of custodians, then to the custodians
themselves. There exists no formal accountability to the branch librarian or
formal, citywide standards for custodians' perfoiTtiance and evaluation. The
branch librarians called for a voice in the process, for a part in scheduling,
supervision, and evaluation of custodians.
The subcommittee is aware that their survey data were a sampling
and that certain key people, custodians and their supervisors, have not been
queried. Despite these limitations, the subcommittee draws its conclusions
with "troubling observations" and "reasonable questions" about the state of
branch library maintenance, both the process and the product.
The subcommittee questions whether the maintenance process, as
presently structured, can work well for anyone. They note the need for clear,
consistent work standards for custodians, the involvement of branch librarians
in the evaluation, and work incentives. They suggest further that "a more
complete assessment be undertaken of the procedures established for
maintaining our treasured buildings." They recommend that the Trustees
engage professional, disinterested management consultants for such an
The Examining Committee presented its report in the "hope that the
constructive critique will be looked at closely. Throughout the process the
goal of the Committee has been to examine and make recommendations for a
library system that is Boston's pride and its citizens' joy."
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
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