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Full text of "Annual report"

THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 




Chinese Performer in the Asian Focus senes. 



ANNUAL REPORT 1989-1990 



THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 

ANNUAL REPORT 

For the Year Ending June 30, 1990 









Document 15—1989-1990 



Trustees of the Public Librar>' 

of the 

Cit>' of Boston 

Kevin F. Moloney. President 

William M. Bulger. Vice President 

Berthe M. Gaines 

Doris Reams Goodwin 

Marianne Rea Luthin 



ANTSTTAL REPORT 1989-1990 

A respite from the budget crisis marked the beginning of FY90 with the 
following announcement: "The Board of Trustees has just approved a re\ised 
plan of service for FY90 to reflect the restoration of approximately S2. 000. 000 
to the Libran- budget. This will still be a difficult year for the Library (as for all 
public institutions) involving many reductions in senice." 

The improvement in the budget came as a result of restoration by the 
Cit>- of Sl.457.000 and an additional S570.000 in state funding for the Libran- 
as Librar>- of Last Resource by a Senate-sponsored amendment to the state 
budget which increased the per capita allocation for the Librar>-"s reference 
and research senices to the Commonwealth from 61.3 cents to 71 cents. 

Thus, planned layoffs of staff were canceled, but reductions were 
mandated: among them, elimination of Saturday service during the summer 
months and continued elimination of Sunday senices in central, as well as 
certain reductions of senice in branches (including meal closings). Other 
reductions included the cutback of the development campaign to a skeletal 
level: diminution of special programs and exhibits: curtailment of printing — 
including design work — on flyers, reading lists, and other publications: delay of 
the opening of the Dudley Literacy Center: deferment of cataloging the 
backlog of many materials: and reduction in building maintenance. 

^^^^ile attention to the budget loomed large this past year, the Boston 
Public Libran- continued to maintain its role as a center of ideas, histon-. 
futurism — and discovery. The sense of wonder that the Libran- houses and 
shares was best captured in the words of Charles J. Connick whose rare 
archives on stained glass windows came to the Libran.' in FY89. 

I thought of crisp flowers glistening in frost>- light, of 
unnamed jewels in dusky caves, of a quotation about 
undiscovered loveliness, and of hast>' surmises I've since 
forgotten, but I've never forgotten that burst of uncertain 
color in a flickering half-Hght. It was my introduction to the 
stained glass craft. 

As a recipient of such rarities as the Connick archives and as a libran- 
committed to the most expeditious and most modem level of senice. the 
Libran- placed emphasis on two areas this year: presenation and appHcations 
of technology. 

Presenation 

Several years ago the Libran- recognized the urgent need to preserve its 
remarkable rare book and manuscript holdings with the application and 
receipt of a two-year grant from the U. S. Department of Education. With this 



impetus, the Library established a conservation laboratory under the direction 
of the keeper of rare books and manuscripts. The laboratory was staffed with 
conservators specializing in the preservation of books and paper. \Vhen the 
grant expired, the Library assumed the budgeted operation of the lab. At that 
time Keeper Laura Monti said of the conservation center. "This is a great step 
in the history of the laboratory... because the great collections of the Library, 
untouched for years and with the accumulation of the dust of ages and the acid 
in the air, are now being [saved] from progressive deterioration." Dr. Monti 
was deeply aware that acquisitions by the Rare Books Department must be 
predicated on the Library's ability to preserve them. Items which are some- 
times five hundred years old at the time of acquisition should be still available 
to scholars for the next half-millennium. Such rarities acquired this year 
included an incunabuhim dating to 1498. Fundamentiim eterae felicitas. a 
devotional book with woodcuts; Sermones by Aurelius Augustinus. printed in 
Paris in 1500; Johan de Brune's Emblemata of Zinnewerk. Amsterdam. 1624; 
and several impressive Bibles of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. 

In the years since the establishment of the consen'ation laboratory, 
there has been an impressive number of works restored or encapsulated and 
stored in acid-free containers, all this in a humidity/temperature controlled 
Rare Books and Manuscripts Department. This past year saw the completion 
of the Prince Collection of documents, "a great feat considering the condition 
of deterioration." In book conservation, the John Adams Collection was 
almost completed "using a process that alternates between small repairs, 
important repairs, rebinding and binding." From Brazil, Ecuador, and 
V^enezuela came conservators, a librarian, and a historian each seeking data 
and advice on the conservation needs of their institutions. 

With this preface on the Library's strong investment in preserving its 
magnificent holdings, it is not surprising that one of the major developments of 
FY90 related to preservation. The Association of Research Libraries Office of 
Management Studies selected the Boston Public Library to participate in the 
Preservation Planning Program administered by that office. Designed as a self- 
study activity, the program will involve a study team and several task forces, 
the study team to prepare a background paper, the task force to examine 
specific issues. The final report will be published and distributed by the 
Association of Research Libraries. The study team will examine activities in 
the Library in their entirety, from short- and long-term goals to present and 
future levels of support. Chairing the study team is Mary^ Beth Dunhouse. 

In the Research Library and in some branches there were additional 
examples of concern with preservation. The Librar\% jointly with the Society, 
received a two-year matching grant from the Massachusetts Council on the 
Arts and Humanities to microfilm certain items in the archives of the Handel 
and Haydn Society. Dating to 1815, the archives include early imprints of 



Handel's music, holographs of commissioned works, books, concert programs, 
and scrapbooks. Targeted for the microfilming project were the programs and 
scrapbooks of the Society. To demonstrate the demands of preservation 
microfilming, we turn to the report of the activity by Diane Ota, curator of 
music. First came the gathering in one place of the scrapbook holdings of the 
Society from their locations in Rare Books, Music Department, and the Society 
itself. Then came "unfolding foldouts. removing staples, marking manuscript 
letters and notes, noting ink and pencil notations, noting stained pages, writing 
descriptions and targets" — a process tedious but essential. 

In March the scrapbooks were delivered to the Northeast Document 
Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts, and by the end of FY90 they 
were returned, inventoried, and replaced in their original sites. Microfilms 
were inspected and the negatives were also distributed. This work was timed 
to coincide with the jubilee year of the Society. The Music Department joined 
with the Society in mounting the exhibit. "175 Years of Music History: The 
Handel and Haydn Society." Other preservation microfilming projects were 
handled with Chadwick-Healey, microfilming 19th-century American music 
periodicals. Some 127 volumes were filmed for this project. 

One of the most dramatic examples of preservation (and cooperation 
with another cultural body) dealt not with books but with a piano! Among the 
many non-book items received by the Library this past century was a Crehore 
piano. One of the first such instruments manufactured in the United States 
around 1800, the piano is one of only six known pianos by Crehore still in 
existence — and one of the few with its "innards" almost intact. Thanks to a 
loan agreement with the Museum of Fine Arts, the precious piano has been 
transferred from its remote site in the office of the Library's keeper of rare 
books and placed on temporary deposit in the Museum's Musical Instruments 
Collection. In the tender care of the Museum, under appropriate climatic 
conditions, the piano will be accessible for supervised viewing and study by 
students and scholars of musical instruments. 

Charlestown Branch Library was particularly mindful of presenation 
this year. During National PreserAation Week, three recently restored paint- 
ings were unveiled in the branch lecture hall, among them: John Singer 
Sargent's "Richard Devens." Costs of restoration were shared by the Friends of 
the Charlestown Branch and the Charlestown Preservation Society. As part of 
the focus on preservation, a member of the Museum of Fine Arts delivered a 
slide lecture on artists of Charlestown and Boston. 

The Library's most publicized and necessary restoration will be the 
place where its treasures — murals, rare prints, books, and manuscripts — are 
housed, the McWm building itself. Previous annual reports have spelled out 
the progress in the various stages of restoration which will be carried out by 
Shepley, Richardson, and Bulfinch under designer Daniel Coolidge. In FY90 



the Trustees voted to accept a state construction grant in the amount of S7 
miUion that will supplement the city's loan order in the amount of S13.4 
million. This year the working drawings for the restoration were completed 
and in March final approval and certifications for restoration from various 
official agencies were received. The project is scheduled to go out for bid in 
1991. Daniel Goolidge noted that the project will yield a functional, user- 
friendly building effectively related to the adjoining Johnson building. 

The Library staff member charged with representing the Library^ in 
the restoration is John J. Doherty. assistant director for physical plant and 
operations. Doherty's concerns with preservation of the building have long 
been matched by concerns with other indispensable city buildings and their 
records. This year his priorities of preservation were recognized by the Boston 
Society of Architects. On 3 October the Society presented John Doherty with 
the Historic Preservation Award in recognition of his significant achievements 
in the conservation and preservation of the man-made environment. The first 
recipient of the award was Richard Cardinal Gushing. 

Behind the award to Doherty was a remarkable move which began in 
late 1972. At that time the old city hall was being renovated for the Boston 
School Committee Stored in the building were virtually thousands of original 
drawings and city building inspection reports for just about ever>'thing con- 
structed in Boston between 1873 and 1962. In the process of cleaning out the 
building, the plans and reports were scheduled for the dumpster. Recognizing 
that the drawings were irreplaceable. Doherty recruited Library volunteers 
armed with trash bags and moved the collection from Court Street to Copley 
Square. Since 1974 the plans have been available to architects, building 
inspectors, and private owners. Doherty volunteers his time on frequent 
Saturday mornings to make the collection accessible. \Vhat seemed at one 
time a throwaway resource has proved indispensable. 

No more dynamic examples of the rewards of preservation in the 
Boston Public Librar\' have been demonstrated than three exhibitions 
assembled by the Fine Arts Department. The exhibits coincided with the 50th 
anniversary celebration and annual meeting of the Society of Architectural 
Historians held in Boston. "Highlights of the Architectural Collections of the 
BPL" drew upon the drawings and records numbering more than 400,000 
items — from an 1805 plan by Charles Bulfinch to alter Faneuil Hall to recent 
competition panels for the redesign of Copley Square. Included in this exhibit 
were drawings from the Peabody & Steams holdings, recently preserved with a 
major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

A second exhibit, "William Gibbons Preston, the Evolution of an 
Architect," highlighted Boston's best known, most prolific designer. His 
important Boston landmarks include the Museum of Natural History (later 



Bonwit Teller and now Louis), the footbridge in the Public Garden, and the 
Armory of the First Corps of Cadets (now the Park Plaza Castle). 

A third exhibit. "Adventures in Light and Color," displayed items 
from the Connick Stained Glass Archives mentioned at the beginning of this 
report. Established in Boston in 1912, the Connick Studio created windows for 
more than five thousand worldwide institutions, among them: the Cathedral of 
St. John the Divine in New York City, the National Shrine in the nation's 
capital, and the American Church in Paris. In preserving and exhibiting such 
archives, the Library^ performs the role of perpetuating not only the facts of art 
and architecture, but the sense of wonder behind them. 



Technology 

The Library moved rapidly into state-of-the-art technology with the 
acquisition of a VAX 6410 mainframe computer system supported in part by a 
corporate grant from Digital Equipment Corporation. Director Arthur Curley 
said the acquisition "substantially enhances the capacity of our computing 
system, which has been a major goal of our capital program." He noted that it 
will make it possible "for us to expand services to the more than two hundred 
libraries throughout Massachusetts currently connected through our 
cooperative cataloging program and the state's interlibrary loan network." 

The new VAX system, which is expected to be operational early in 
FY91. A\1ll more than double the Librar>^'s mainframe computer capacity^ and 
will allow for the merging of four existing databases as well as bring on-line the 
full Library of Congress catalog database of 3.5 million items. With holdings 
numbering in excess of 23 million items, the Boston Public Library will 
considerably expedite service to patrons. 

In addition to the progress promised by the VAX system, the 
continuing installation of DRA terminals and the barcoding of collections 
paved the way for advances in registration, circulation, and full networked 
access to collections of the Boston Public Library (central and branches) and 
the other five members of the Metro Boston Library Network. 

Reports from the General Library' and branches repeatedly testify' to 
the advances brought about by the DRA system. From General Library 
Circulation and Shelving comes this word: "We are able to offer more ser\'ices 
to our public such as renewals, on-line reserves, instant issuing of library 
cards, daily due dates, and many more." Statistics for this department, 
certainly augmented by the new system, continue to mount. In FY90 744.626 
items were circulated, an increase of more than 10 percent over the previous 
year. Branch library evaluations of the DRA system included such ventures 
into hyperbole as "worked wonders, "amazed," "astounded," and "a major 
breakthrough." 



For technology to work there must be expert staff educated in areas 
daily stretching beyond what was once traditional librarians' knowledge. 
Specialists dealing with hardware, software, systems management, program- 
ming, telecommunications and related instruction, and troubleshooting now 
occupy key posts in modem library organizations, the Boston Public Library 
among them. Annual reports often highlight book-centered activities, 
programs, and exhibits — the things which "grab" the lay reader of such 
reports. But the units behind the books and the departments which make 
technology function must not pass unmentioned. 

In the forefront of technical units in the Library is the Systems Office 
which describes FY90 as "a watershed year" with the phasing out of obsolete 
computer equipment. Labor-intensive activities included the moving of 
software applications for circulation to the VAX computers; the conversion of 
approximately 170.000 IBM records into the DRA format; and the consider- 
ation of a replacement for the cataloging system, a very large, complicated 
system of more than three million records. 

Other departments were similarly caught up in the changes and 
progress generated by automation. For example. Automated Cataloging, which 
adminsters the Cooperative Cataloging Program for 188 Massachusetts 
libraries, produced 881,541 catalog cards and 65,715 labels for member 
libraries. This unit also experienced the impact of the new DRA system as the 
first point of troubleshooting both in hardware and telecommunications 
failures. The Cataloging Department faced increased attention to media 
formats — scores, spoken discs and tapes, musical recordings, and mixed book- 
and-tape sets. "Current records for all formats," says the department, "tend to 
be more sophisticated than in previous years because of the increased 
requirements of automation." Other units also noted the expanded needs of 
automation. Book Preparation dealt with a major responsibility for the 
barcoding operation. Cataloging Support handled the sorting and distribution 
of cards for the Automated Cataloging Unit as well as database searching for 
manually produced cards. Interlibrary Loan noted the accelerated activities 
resulting from DRA, and the charging and circulation of books directly from 
ILL, including the assignment and later cancellation of temporary barcodes. 
The Fax Office maintained its remarkable turnaround time this year: more 
than 8.000 requests received and 80 percent filled within 24 hours. 

Application of technology to activities of the Access Center this year 
was enhanced with receipt of a Libran^ Services and Construction Act grant 
for implementation of "Computer Technology for Disabled People, Phase 2." 
This grant will make it possible for the department to acquire an IBM- 
compatible computer with Braille peripherals. Armed with this modem tool, 
blind and visually impaired patrons will be able to access reference materials 
in CD ROM and eventually to utilize the public access catalog of the holdings 



of General Library and Metro Boston Network. Described as "a breakthrough" 
and "a pioneering role for the Access Center." the computer places the Boston 
Public Library as only the second library in the United States (preceded by the 
Phoenix. Arizona. Public Library) to offer CD ROM reference serxice to 
blind/visually impaired people. 

Librarians as Teachers 
Librarians have always been trained and have performed professionally in 
giving one-to-one attention and service to individual patrons. In addition, they 
have become increasingly expert in planning and implementing programs for 
groups of people. What needs to be emphasized now is the significant role 
librarians play — especially those in major metropolitan libraries — as teachers. 
This role has been intensified by the move into automation. 

The examples cited here of staff librarians as teachers are selected 
descriptions of such instructors who have counterparts throughout the 
specialized departments and branches of the Library'. John Pelose. supervisor 
of the Automated Cataloging Unit/Telecommunications, conducted several 
staff development sessions for Boston Public Library members as well as 
librarians of the Metro Boston Library Network. As advances in DRA and other 
automation projects moved rapidly. Pelose dealt with ACU Cataloging and 
Telecommunications Services, telephone etiquette, and background on Library 
of Congress and OCLC services. Marta Pardee-King, network coordinator, led 
several sessions on the functions and progress of the DRA system. Sally 
Beecher, curator of humanities reference, offered a ready reference workshop 
for librarians of the Andover subregion. Mary Frances O'Brien and Dolores 
Schueler of the Social Science Department gave two sessions on business 
sources for the Andover subregion and for Dynagraf. Inc. 

Examples of instruction by expert staff follow the full range of 
specialized departments — the more specialized the department, the greater 
the need for enlightenment of the "uninitiated." The Music Department 
offered orientation for classes in music bibliography for students from 
Simmons College. A leader in research resources on genealogy, many of them 
original files created over the years, the Library is called on frequently to give 
instruction in the area of ancestors/descendants, their emigration dates, births 
and deaths, references to families in town histories, and much more. This year 
lectures were delivered by Henr\' Scannell of the Microtext and Newspaper 
Department and Joseph G. V. Maciora of the Social Science Department at the 
"Best Years Are Here" exposition. Maciora also addressed Harvard University's 
"Life-Long Learning Class" on genealogy. Staff of the Children's Room, 
General Library, gave formal lectures on children's literature and services to 
students of Bunker Hill Community College. Pine Manor Jr. College, Roxbury 
Community College, Suffolk University, and Emerson College. 



Activities of the Science Reference Department graphically demon- 
strate the role of librarians as teachers. Curator Marilyn McLean and 
Reference Librarian George Gumming performed the following instructing 
assignments: a presentation to 300 mechanical design students from North- 
eastern University and a similar talk to 35 students at Tufts University; also a 
talk at the MIT Innovation Genter. In addition to instructing adults and college 
students. Gumming also introduced 4th, 5th and 6th graders from the Revere 
schools to patents and trademarks and offered a science project workshop for 
25 children. McLean gave presentations to classes in Science/Technology and 
Reference at the Simmons Graduate School of Library Science. 

Librarians in branches, traditionally instructing young people in library 
skills, continued their important role. This year the emphasis was on literacy 
and library^ services to bilingual patrons. Recent emigrants from the USSR, 
students at New England Hebrew Academy, visited Brighton Branch. Godman 
Square offered instructional tours for literacy students from the Haitian Multi- 
Service Genter, Odwin Learning Genter, Lee Gommunity School Adult 
Learning Genter, and the Boston Adult Basic Education Genter at Woodrow 
Wilson Middle School. Gonnolly Branch offered a presentation to multi- 
cultural teachers at the Ghildren's Museum on services to bilingual students. 

Another effective device for unfolding the functions and collections of 
a library is the tour. In this format the participant learns according to his 
inclination, interest, and attention span. The opportunity is there for close up. 
often hands-on exposure to elements in the Librar>\ Tours var\' in patronage 
and focus, from visitors or professionals to school classes. To give a sample of 
variations in the tour format: 40 children's and school librarians from 
Gonnecticut examined books in the .lordan Gollection; students enrolled in a 
picture book class at Lesley Gollege examined that department's illustrated 
children's books; Humanities Reference gave tours in literature to North- 
eastern University graduate students; the Government Documents Department 
gave a tour to the criminal justice class from Salem State Gollege. These 
represent only a few examples of the tour format. 

This brings us to the most significant, dynamically staffed and 
designed tour. Supported in part by the Junior League of Boston since its start 
in September 1989. the program under the direction of Jody Eldredge trains 
volunteers to conduct tours of the Gentral Librar>\ Training for the guides this 
year included a lecture on David McGord, author of... as built with second 
thoughts, reforming what was old!, a source book used as part of tour guide 
training. Other special experiences, which unfold useful background data on 
the Library buildings and histor>' for tour guides, included an all-day workshop 
conducted by the Royal Pickwickians, a troupe of Philadelphia actors who 
recreated the life and times of Gharles Pollen Mclvim and the major artists in 
the Research Library; a lecture by Peter Arms Wick, author of Handbook to 



the Art and Architecture of the Boston Public Library; and two lectures on 
presenting tour information to children. 

As the third year of the funded three-year program drew to a close in 
FY90. it was reported that the goals have been met: five regularly scheduled 
tours each week, special tours available on request, and thirty tour guides on 
duty. So effective has the program been that the Junior League will support 
the program for a fourth year. Tour guides contributed approximately 500 
hours of tours in FY90, and general volunteers gave approximately 1.000 
hours of research, cataloging, and office support to the Library. 

Research Libran^ 

Recent annual reports have detailed the functions of Library departments 
within the Research Library from collection building to senice to users. In 
addition, this report has called attention to the specialized departments in 
sections on preservation, technology, and tours. At this point we shall focus on 
the year's highlights in the specialized departments, which have not already 
been cited. 

Government Documents acquired several noteworthy CD ROMs as 
well as a personal computer, with several special projects planned. Fine Arts, 
despite reduced hours, staff, and funds, mounted the major exhibitions already 
noted: gave extensive reference assistance; and merited this quote from the 
Boston Globe (1/4/90): "...a high quaUt>' of civilization still reigns in the Fine 
Arts section on the third floor." 

In the midst of extensive building renovation. Wrstein Business 
Branch augmented its holdings with the acquisition of 30 new directories; the 
branch supplied more than 70,000 items, responded to more than 25.000 
phone calls, and answered 45.263 reference queries as well as more than 
2.000 directional questions. The Sound Archives collection reached a total of a 
quarter million items. Rare Books and Manuscripts noted that the use of rare 
items tripled, reference questions doubled, numbers of books and manuscripts 
cataloged increased as did the flow of visitors. FY90 also marked the 
completion of the organization and cataloging of the Dwiggins Collection. The 
department contributed to an exhibition. "The Golden Age of Dutch 
Manuscript Painting." organized by the Pierpont Morgan Librar\' and The 
Rijksmuseum bet Catharijne Convent of Utrecht. As Dr. Laura Monti, keeper 
of rare books, commented: "The name of the Boston Public Library appeared 
with the great libraries of the world in this exhibit." 

The Microtext Department continued intensive service of 
microforms, reporting that "a major new mark in microfiche holdings was 
reached this year as the department passed its 2-millionth fiche. Microforms 
began to have a separate identity in about 1966 with the 'breakup' of the old 



Patent Room. The millionth microfiche was obtained in 1985, or in 20 years; it 
has taken only five years to reach the second million." 

Community Library Services 
Specific citations and examples related to budget cutbacks, services, programs, 
publications, and buildings as they relate to Community Librar>' Services are 
given throughout this report. Three actions highlight the year: the official 
opening of the renovated Connolly Branch, the opening of the addition to West 
Roxbury Branch Library', and the launch of the new circulation system on 
October 16. 1989. At that time the central library. Codman Square. Dudley. 
Orient Heights. Washington Village, and West Roxbury Branches began 
performing all circulation functions on the new DRA system. The remaining 20 
branches and Mobile Library^ Services (formerly Extension Services) began 
partial use of the system pending completion of retrospective barcoding of 
their collections. 

Statistics for FY90 project a positive growth despite mandated 
cutbacks in hours and book budgets. Thirteen branches and General Library 
realized increases in total circulation; 21 branches and General Library 
increased or maintained their circulation per hours open; book deposits were 
made to 92 sites, totaling 283,956 books; the number of registered borrowers 
reached 307,126; of this number, 85 percent reside in Boston; reference and 
directional inquiries increased by 36 percent in branches and 75 percent in 
General Library departments. \\Tiile the total number of programs dropped by 
16 percent, the average attendance at each program increased by 89 percent 
over the preceding year. 

And behind the statistics was evidence of energetic, committed, 
imaginative staff who marked FY90 with conscientious, aggressive service on 
committees, in literacy projects, and in strong collaborations with schools, 
community agencies, and Friends groups. 



Programs 
A major ingredient in each annual report down the years has been the recital 
of programs (lectures, panel discussions, film showings) for various age and 
interest levels. For the Boston Public Library' such programming has always 
been accepted by library' administration as a responsibility and by the public as 
an integral part of their library. Rather than recite in detail the programs of 
FY90, this report will point up trends, historic implications, and 
interpretations of program activity. 

Programming in FY90 revealed a strong awareness and response to 
ethnic composition of the community. For example. West Roxbury Branch 
established links with the William G. Abdalah Memorial Library, the St. 



10 



George Community Center, and the Lebanese Syrian Ladies Aid Society, 
which donated several children's picture books in Arabic. An author from 
Beirut University lectured on the value of bilingual education. One of the most 
dramatic responses to a special culture within the community was the General 
Librar>''s Asian Focus series, supported by a grant from the Massachusetts 
Board of Library' Commissioners. Programs drew record attendance and were 
judged to have visibly increased the use of the Chinese book collection. The 
programs included a film series from China, performances by the American 
Chinese Art Society, and Cambodian folk dancers. In a practical response to 
the needs of the growing Asian community, library and card applications were 
translated into Khmer. Chinese, and Vietnamese. Translations into Russian 
and Portuguese were addressed to those new Bostonians. The picture of the 
Angkor Dance Troupe of Lowell performing in front of the Research Library 
was published in American Libraries. 

Connolly Branch spread the word repeatedly this year by way of the 
media, many times calling attention to its services to Spanish-speaking users. 
The Spanish TV station. Ciienca Vision, filmed a Spanish story hour offered by 
children's librarian Edith Bravo. The Jamaica Plain Arts News published an 
extensive article on Colombian artist Hector Vivas, exhibited at the branch. 
WTMEV-TV sponsored a Spanish story hour led by Mayra Rodriguez, host of 
Acfui! as part of their "Great Expectations" project. Lilian V. Vargas, reporter 
for the Spanish weekly newspaper El Mundo, wrote a lengthy piece on the 
library, one of several editorial and other articles on the branch in the course 
of the year. And "Lo Mejor de La Semana" (Best of the Week), a program on 
Radio Periodica el Mundo, featured an interview with Edith Bravo in a 
segment on library services to the Hispanic community. It goes without saying 
that such positive coverage by the media can only enhance the library's efforts 
to reach out. 

In a three-part program. Brighton Branch dealt with a world and a 
culture that remains often cryptic and mysterious. Titled "An Arab Mosaic: 
North Yemen. Tunisia, and Morocco." the series called on Peace Corps volun- 
teers who have seen service in the Middle East and North Africa. They 
described their experiences, showing slides of remote, mountainous areas; 
offering the audience sense-pleasing samples of native costumes, food, and 
background music. The experience included exhibits of photos and artifacts. 

Programs designed for the various age levels continued as a major 
focus in library events. One such area of programming deserves particular 
highlighting since such service has been a historic milestone in public librar>^ 
service, namely lecture hall presentations geared to patrons over 60, popularly 
referred to as "Never Too Late" series. Now more than 40 years old. this 
attention to senior citizens on a dynamic, continuing basis is the oldest such 
library-sponsored program for older adults in the country. For a twofold 



11 



reason — both as an annual record worthy of archival listing and as a prototype 
for other libraries involved currently in such programming — here is a recital of 
FY90 activities in the General Library for Never-Too-Laters. In past reports we 
have noted the rationale behind these programs: that the audience be 
perceived as alert, forward-looking, deserving the best, and that the programs 
offer not pap, not "light stuff," not superficial, easy-to-digest data. 

To quote the report by Kathleen B. Hegarty. staff officer for special 
programs: "The group continues to sustain its intellectual vigor and vitality 
and to draw new members to its ranks. Outstanding programs, presented to 
capacity, responsive audiences, have included an illustrated lecture on 'John 
James Audubon: the Man, the Artist, the Ornithologist' by Dr. Elisha Atkins, 
director, Habitat Institute for the Environment, Belmont; 'Monet: the Series 
Paintings,' by Henry Augustine Tate, art historian whose efforts received an 
ovation; 'Melodic Melodies.' a concert of opera and operatic selections 
featuring soprano Alexandra Suchocki and tenor Mark Andersen, accompanied 
by a talented violinist and pianist, called by the audience the best program 
ever presented in this library; and 'Brain Power,' a talk by Dr. \'emon Mark, 
neurosurgeon and author, who offered a compassionate, lucid presentation on 
how to maintain and enhance brain fitness throughout life." Membership in 
the General Library Never Too Late group numbers almost 1,500; attendance 
at these programs in FY90 numbered 7,622 at 38 programs. 

Children continued this year to receive their share of special atten- 
tion in programming. A growing delight for young audiences, demonstrated in 
FY90, were presentations of puppets. Throughout the library system puppets 
were "in" — the Gerwick Puppets production of "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" 
at seven branches and General Librarv'; NINOTS Puppet Theater at four 
branches; the Poobley Greegy Puppet Theater at Roslindale Branch; Cranberry 
Puppets at Jamaica Plain; and You and Me Puppets at Charlestown. 

Centered mainly in the Young Adult Department of central, ser\'ices 
to teenagers this year gave particular attention to readers advisory help to 
teachers and youth workers in social service agencies. Programs for young 
people included the annual creative writing workshop, a science project 
workshop, and a YA open house. Dudley Branch made efforts to increase YA 
patronage beyond those seeking books on the summer reading lists by 
featuring prominent local people with interesting jobs or rapport with youth, 
for example. Attorney Judith Dilday and Deborah Protherow-Stith. 

Programming in Boston enjoys a substantial resource, as do other 
urban libraries, by having a rich "bank" of speakers — professors, radio and 
television personalities, and authors/artists. FY90 in the librar>' graphically 
demonstrated this plus. Media personalities drew fascinated audiences, among 
them: Jim Boyd of Channel 5/TV; Lonnie Carton of WEEI's Learning Center; 
Howie Carr of the Herald; Willie Maze, sportscaster at AVILD radio. Local 



12 



writers who gave their time to programs inchided Padraic O'Malley. Sam 
Cornish. James Carroll. Suzanne Gordon. .Jeremiah Healy. William Tappley, 
Stephen Fox. and David Imih. Not only were these authors available locally, 
but many of them gave their time without remuneration. 

Not content to pursue past routes in programming^, the Boston Public 
Library seeks constantly new routes to reaching new audiences. One such 
effort was tried in FY90 by General Librar>\ As the report describes it: "We 
expect that avid readers will use the librarA% but not necessarily avid cooks, 
although the library^ does have a large and varied cookbook collection." So. to 
introduce new people to the resources of the library and to highlight the BPL's 
strong cookbook collection, the Special Projects office developed a spring 
series of programs devoted to the art of the cookbook titled "Cooks in Print." 
.Julia Child kicked off the series with a talk about her latest book. The Way to 
Cook. Successive programs featured restaurateur Jasper ^Vhite; George 
Berkowitz of Legal Sea Foods; Odette Bery. owner of Another Season; and 
Sarah Leah Chase, owner of Que Sera Sarah in a panel discussion; then once 
again Julia Child with her editor Judith Jones. The fifth program featured the 
film "Babette's Feast." A lavish, elegant dessert ended the series as author 
Rose Levy Beranbaum {The Cake Bible) talked about her passion for cakes 
and chocolate. The series brought approximately 2.500 people into the 
Librar>% many of whom had never been to the Library before. 

Certainly the most concerted effort to bring new readers to the 
Libran' was the continuing attention to literacy, begun in 1987 with the 
formation of the Coordinating Committee for Literacy. Last year Literacy 
Resource Centers were established in the central librar>' and at 14 branch 
libraries. This year Librarv' focus was twofold: strengthening ties between adult 
learners and increasing staff knowledge and understanding of the needs of the 
adult literacy community. Staff members of the Coordinating Committee and 
the Literacy Materials Review Committee were briefed through lectures and a 
workshop on the work of the various organizations. 

Three annual memorial lectureships were presented in FY90. In the 
42nd Mary U. Nichols lecture and book awards at North End Branch, 
Honorable Salvatore F. DiMasi spoke on "The Importance of Sharing One's 
Talents and Knowledge with One's Community Through Active Community 
Participation." Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam spoke about 
his most recent best seller. Summer of ^49, in the Francis Moloney Lecture. 
Douglass Scott presented an address honoring W. A. Dwiggins. "Eclecticism to 
Modernism: American Graphic Design in the 1930s." 

Programming in the series format known as the Learning Library of 
the National Endowment for the Humanities was considerably reduced and 
emphasis was placed on single program formats. Two branches did offer NEH 
series. South Boston Branch called upon Anthony Sammarco to deliver a 



13 



three-part slide/lecture sequence on the history of South Boston. Hyde Park 
Branch presented Padraig O'Malley speaking on "Understanding Ireland." 

Exhibitions 

Reaching Hbrary patrons' attention through visual displays, often of art. 
sometimes of artifacts or crafts or books themselves, remained a priority in 
FY90. Exhibit cases and galleries in the McKim and Johnson buildings as in 
branch libraries were booked months ahead. 

Several distinguished artists were shown in the Wiggin Gallery, among 
them Heinrich Kley, called one of the greatest cartoonists of modem times; 
Boston artist/teacher Arthur Polonsky, whose drawings demonstrated parti- 
cular techniques to his students; and Duncan Macpherson, who recently 
donated many of his political cartoons to the Library. Boston's Black artist 
Allan Rohan Grite was exhibited in the great hall of the General Library. 

Rare Books displayed its rarities, among them: "Italian Treasures," 
leading writers from the 15th to the 17th centuries; "The Christmas Story: 
Told through Illuminated Manuscripts": and "W. B. Yeats," honoring the Irish 
writer on the 50th anniversary of his death. The Jordan Collection drew upon 
its international holdings for two major shows: "Africa Publishes: A selection 
of Books for Children from Twenty-Four African Nations" and "A World of 
Alphabet Books." Brighton, Hyde Park. Connolly, and South Boston Branches 
all chose to exhibit the works of community artists. Roslindale exhibited "A 
Little Bit of Ireland" featuring Waterford glass. Irish linen, and such. 

Photographs frequently were the centerpiece of exhibits: "Wki: 
Migrant Family Life in a South African Compound," photos by Roger Meintjies 
of living conditions under apartheid: a photodocumentary by Joanne 
Ciccarello, "Arts in the Healing Process," both in the General Library; 
"Women of Courage — East," photographs of 22 women from the northeast, 
displayed at Dudley Branch. A major exhibit in the great hall was jointly 
sponsored and designed by the Library of Congress and the American Library 
Association in celebration of the bicentennial of Congress, "To Make All Laws: 
The Congress of the U. S." 

Buildings 

The major building event of the year was the grand opening of the West 
Roxbury Branch addition on Sunday, 24 September. Assistant Director for 
Community Library Services Lesley Loke called the event "a benchmark in 
branch library development." Funded as part of Mayor Flynn's Rebuilding 
Boston Capital Improvement Project and designed by Anthony Tappe 
Associates, the addition complements the Beaux Arts style of the original 
building. The horizontal lines of the stone cornice continue from one building 
to the next; the windows of the new structure are massed similarly. Inside, 



14 



directly across from the lobby is a reading garden with a central fountain. The 
addition almost triples the space of the existing librar>'. with seating for more 
than 180 in service areas and 150 in the lecture hall. Steel shelving will 
accommodate 90.000 volumes. 

The addition to the West Roxbur>' Branch contributed several firsts in 
the histor>' of branch buildings: first elevator, first exhibition gallen'. first 
lecture hall accessible when the remainder of the building is closed, first craft 
center (with sink and work space), first functional garden space. Delighted 
with the results of the new unit. West Roxbury residents — fervent advocates 
for the best in library' service — remain mindful that the new addition came 
about in part because of the generosity of The West Roxbury Congregational 
Church. The church originally occupied the site of the new addition, the land 
given to the Librarx' after the church was destroyed by fire. 

Maintenance of buildings and grounds in other branch libraries as well 
as installation of items ranging from doors, locks, air conditioning units, 
flooring, and roofs were handled this year under the department appropriate to 
the project, either the Library's Buildings Department or Public Facilities. 
Several projected and essential capital projects remained incomplete or 
postponed. 

The impact of the continuing attention to library structures in the 
picture of total service to the public is graphically summarized by reporting 
branch libraries. From Barbara Wicker, branch librarian of Hyde Park Branch: 
"in spite of the filth, inconvenience, and chaos that comes with major 
renovations such as these [exterior painting, new bathroom, security of 
items], the results are well worth it." From Dorothy Martin, branch librarian. 
Roslindale: "Last summer and fall were total chaos at the branch due to 
construction dust and noise (handicap ramp, bathrooms, doors, lighting, 
security' rooms, air conditioning, asbestos removal] but the end results were 
worth it." Mary Linn, branch librarian of East Boston Branch, summed up the 
importance of the building in branch library service: "All of these 
improvements [new roof, boiler, fence] send a message to the community that 
their public library should be a place of beauty and importance." 



15 



Grants and Gifts 
Many of the innovations, special acquisitions, studies, and important events 
are made possible for the Library by grants or gifts. FY90 was marked by 
funding which propelled the Library beyond the operational necessities. 

Grants 

Digital Equipment Corporation toward purchase of 

VAX 6410 system S353.000. 

Boston Globe Foundation 200.000. 

Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities 

(for Handel & Haydn microfilm project (FY90) 2.339. 

LSCA. Title I. microfilming local newspaper indexes 20.000. 

LSCA Title 1. "to expedite access to Library's unprocessed 

resources" 311.509. 

LSCA Title I Grant. "Asian Focus" 23.570. 

LSCA Title M Grant (for compiling and publishing works of 

adult new readers) 25.000. 

National Endowment for the Humanities 

(bibliographic phase to catalog all Massachusetts 

newspapers) 401.685. 

Fidelity Foundation. RIF program at Fields Comer 2.000. 

^VMJX Radio and JIF Peanut Butter (for special children's 

programs at district libraries) 1.461. 

Association of Research Libraries (self-study 

preservation project) 10.000. 

Several grants went directly to branches for art exhibitions, landscaping 
grounds, and preservation. 

Gifts 

Donation of S13.330 by Daniel Rea of Readville for purchase of a facsimile 

edition of the Book of Kells. 
3.000 books bequeathed by Edward Beatty of Hyde Park. 
U. S. Geologic maps donated by the State Library. 
136 books (German. Polish, Russian. Indian), gift of the Center for Research 

Libraries in Chicago. 
Robert Severy continued to fimd the restoration of Library paintings, this year 

a Winslow Homer. 
Burlesque actor Stephen Mills bequeathed his personal collection of clothing. 

hats, canes, musical scores. 
776 recordings from various donors went to the Sound Archives. 



16 



15 scrapbooks and correspondence of the Handel & Haydn Society donated by 
Mrs. John Hamilton of Millbrook. New York. 

610 jazz arrangements, some in manuscript format, gift of Sophia Ghomes of 
Newton. 

Other musical gifts included 155 music song sheets, gift of Rita Dinneen; 
Carroll collections of compositions for militar>^ and concert bands, secular 
motets, songs, and choruses, gift of Rev. Robert Mackie, Hanover; several 
back issues of music journals from Mary Wolfman of Brookline. 

Robert Severy donated 3.000 photographs of Gharlestown. Kenmore Square, 
and Bay State Road. 

Roger Howlett of Ghilds Gallery donated 15 boxes of art sales catalogs, 
periodicals, and ephemera on American artists. 

7.259 books on American humor bequeathed by the Rosenberg estate. 

This represents only a partial list of the generous donations on many 

subjects and formats. The value of gifts and grants for FY90 reached a total of 

81,400,000. 

Publications 

In its publications program, the Library has repeatedly turned to writings from 
community poets and authors. Several years ago the creative efforts of 
children and teens were highlighted in What Is a City? Young People Reply. As 
a result, the original sentiments of our urban contributors were later quoted in 
several anthologies. Two years ago the Library published the verse of 27 poets 
in the Dudley Branch Poetry Glub. Poets on the Horizon. And last year 
beginning writers appeared in print in it's never easy. 

Once again the Library is encouraging the writing talents of 
neighborhood authors. Work has been proceeding on a project titled "Tales 
from Boston Neighborhoods" under a grant from the U.S. Department of 
Education (LSGA Title M). Students in adult literacy classes in the Godman 
Square, Dudley, and Jamaica Plain communities are putting into words their 
thoughts on their lives, their neighbors and neighborhoods, their concerns and 
aspirations. It is hoped that the project will result in a publication. 

In other publishing efforts this past year: a guide to the Alice M. 
Jordan Gollection was released and given widespread distribution; two major 
exhibits of that collection were represented in a checklist, "World of Alphabet 
Books," and a bibliography, "Africa Publishes." Several booklists were 
compiled by staff of the General Libran': "Gooks in Print" and "Extraordinary 
Lives" by Joanne Bogart; "High Noon: Books about Lawmen and Outlaws of 
the Old West" by Roland Butterfield; "We Gould Have Danced All Night: A 
Gelebration of Lesbian and Gay Fiction" and "Deadly Intentions: True Tales of 
Murder." compiled by Susan Jacob; "Black Is...." selected and edited by a staff 



17 



committee chaired by Lois Henry; and "Modem Chinese Fiction." compiled by 
Caroline Young. 

Government Documents laser-printed two editions of its in-house 
Index to State and Local Documents this year and produced them also on 
microfiche for distribution to libraries throughout Massachusetts. Thanks to 
the department's acquisition of a personal computer, plans are in process for 
updating other publications. 

Librar>^ staff members reviewed for professional journals: Catherine 
Clancy and Denise Thomhill of the Young Adult Department reviewed young 
adult books for VOYA Joumah Charlotte Koiczynski of the Music Department 
reviewed for Choice; and Michael Rogan. also of the Music Department, 
reviewed for the Music Library Association's Notes. 

Library staff members contributed to other publications in addition to 
their assignments for the Librar>'. Marilyn McLean, curator of science 
reference, edited the newsletter of the Patent Depository' Association. Region 
1. Kim Tenney of the Fine Arts Department was represented in volume 4 of 
the Walter Gropius Archives (Garland), which printed her bibliography. 
"Gropius at TAC: Selected Projects." Ken Carlson of Fine Arts wrote two 
articles that appeared in print: one on \'eronica Louvet. French-American 
Boston designer, in Elle Decor (March 1990). and another on the design of a 
London night club/ discotheque in Harper's and Queen (June 1990). Diane 
Ota. curator of music, continued as editor-in-chief of the newsletter of the 
New England Chapter of the Music Library Association. Caroline Young of 
General Library contributed articles to Sampan and World Journal. 

Demonstrating an expertise apart from her Library assignments. Alice 
Kane of the Microtext Department published the Coffeehouse Manager, issued 
by the Coffeehouse Association of New England, and the Coffeehouse 
Information Booklet. 

In FY90 it was strongly evident that Library staff contributed to the 
print world as well as cataloged and interpreted the Library's vast collections. 

Staff 
Possibly the most prolific writer among the staff this year was recently 
appointed Public Relations Officer Arthur Dunphy. Charged with educating the 
public to the full range of Library services and programs. Dunphy opened wide 
avenues of communication with the media. In FY90 he established central and 
branch editions of the monthly calendar, issued a new BPL telephone 
directory, established "This Week at the BPL" for distribution to the media, 
and created "user-specific" mailing lists for news releases. Media coverage of 
the Library increased dramatically in the press, television, and professional 
journals. Dunphy also promoted the American Library Association program, 
"Night of a Thousand Stars." in central and district libraries. 



18 



Four staff members with distinguished records in the Librar\' 
departed their posts this year. Margo Grist, assistant director for planning and 
administrative coordination, accepted a position at the Universit>' of Michigan 
at ^\nn Arbor as assistant director for pubHc services. Grist saw earUer senice 
as branch Hbrarian at the Boston Pubhc Librar>" and regional administrator for 
the Gentral Massachusetts Regional Librar>' System. On the occasion of her 
resignation, the Trustees paid tribute to her outstanding accomplishments 
including coordination of the search process for a new Library' director. Mr. 
Gurley noted that the "contributions she has made to the quality of library 
service in Boston and throughout the state will long remain." 

Francina E. Gelzer retired this year as district supervisor and branch 
librarian. Dudley Branch Library. She began her career as a children's librarian 
at the North End Branch. In the ensuing years she held posts in several librar\'^ 
communities — South End. Roxbury^. Dorchester, and Mattapan. with service 
also as director of the Holbrook Public Librar>'. In a stirring salute at the 
Harriet Tubman House, an outpouring of cit>" and librar>' leaders cited her 
record of service, "her consistent concern for young people, her priorit}'^ of 
community outreach, her encouragement of patrons and residents to value 
branch libraries as self-empowering resources." A scholarship in Francina 
Gelzer's name has been established at Roxbur>' Gommunity Gollege. 

Theresa Gederholm left behind a proud record of achievement when 
she retired after more than 20 years of service making major contributions as 
coordinator of fine arts and subsequently as development officer. In her 
leadership of the Eastern Massachusetts Regional Library System. Mary 
Heneghan. retiring after almost 20 years, developed an efficient, responsive 
coordination of more than 200 libraries in eastern Massachusetts. 

Friends 

Friends groups in branch libraries continued to expand this year in their 
various roles from fundraising to program support. The Jamaica Plain Friends 
donated an artificial Ghristmas tree, a new steel filing cabinet for local histon' 
materials, and a rack for displaying juvenile paperbacks. In addition, the group 
paid for an author appearance and proposed and received an Arts Lottery 
grant. The Hyde Park Friends also requested and received an Arts Lottery' 
grant to fund four musical performances and gave the branch a \'GR monitor 
and cabinet. Friends of the West End Branch donated a computer chair and 
received a S2.000 grant from Boston Foundation's Fund for Parks and Open 
Spaces, .\mong their contributions. Brighton Friends supported a performance 
of magic, mime, and stor>'telling. Fields Gomer Friends funded a series of 
family programs and received an Arts Lottery grant. 

A recital of contributions and volunteerism from Friends groups could 
go on and on. They have made a considerable, visible difference in branch 



19 



senices and grounds. In East Boston Branch where the Friends donated two 
fans and a pitcher and creamer, the Hbrarian reported: "Friends planted 
daffodils and tulips in front of the Library.... The flowers bloomed in the spring 
and were quite beautiful." 

City-Wide Friends of the Boston Public Libran' also underwent 
considerable growth in FY90. To both groups. President of the Board of 
Trustees Kevin F, Moloney paid this tribute early in the year following receipt 
of word that the threatened Library budget had been revised and increased: 
"This change in the Library's circumstances would not have taken place 
without the many hours of hard work by officers and members of Friends of 
the Library organizations and citizens throughout the city." Under President 
Lorrey J. Bianchi, the City-Wide Friends have established an office in the 
McWm building. They spread the word of their activities and plans through 
publication of the newsletter Friends Fonim. Using the motto. "Supporting the 
Entire System," the group encourages the goals of neighborhood Friends and 
publishes their news. The main focus this year, like last year, remains "The 
Budget Is Coming!" 

The Associates of the Boston Public Library continued their mission 
of promoting the visibiHty of the Library and supporting a variety of programs. 
Centerpiece of the year's activity was their second annual dinner, the elegant 
"Literary Lights" fundraiser. Joining the featured speaker, Irish poet/author 
Seamus Heaney, were several other prominent writers, among them: John 
Kenneth Galbraith. George Higgins, Annie Dillard, and Stephen Jay Gould. In 
addition to the dinner, the Associates sponsor the annual Epstein 
Screenwriting Award and readings of new plays for the stage. 

Concluding Thoughts 

In FY90 we witnessed the dual importance of preservation and technology. 
These priorities never for a moment obscured the importance of people in the 
Library equation — friends, volunteers, officers in city and state government 
supporting the Librar\\ citizen users or potential users, library^ staff, library 
trustees. 

In her annual report, the curator of Humanities Reference described 
her reaction to a publisher's catalog which came addressed to the "Curator of 
Human Reference": "Perhaps this is apt now for so many times today you 
must press a screen, type a message, fax a request, or push a button on your 
telephone to get information. People seem happy to contact the library and 
still be able to talk to a person and ask a question — the human exchange 
which is the essence of reference work." 

And the human exchange remains the essence of all library' service. 

Arthur Curley 
Director and Librarian 



20 



Libran^ Resources 

General Book Collections 

Volumes 5.992,634 

Special Collections 

Rare Books and Manuscripts 1,180.274 

Prints 725,880 

Patents 9,332.356 

Maps 308.916 

Government Documents 1.870.210 

Musical Scores 89.600 

Periodicals 

Current Subscriptions 16,903 



Non-Print Materials 




Audio-Recordings 


323,915 


Films and Video Cassettes 


16,259 


Pictorial Works 


1,612,591 


Microforms 


4.208.074 


TOTAL 


25,677.612 


Library Use 




Visitors 


2,148,063 


Programs 


5,129 


Program Attendance 


176,923 


Items Borrowed 


2,086,071 


\'olumes Consulted 


998,223 


Reference Inquiries 


1,235,612 


Photocopies 


1,570.000 



21 



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