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Full text of "Annual report"

THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 




Boris Artzybasheff from the John D. Merriam Collection 



Annual Report 1994-1995 



THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 

Annual Report 
For the Year Ending June 30, 1995 




Document 15 



The Trustees of the PubHc Library of the City of Boston 



Trustees of the Public Library 

of 

The City of Boston 



Berthe M. Gaines, President 

Arthur F. F. Snyder, Vice President 

William M. Bulj^er 

V. Paul Deare 
Donna M. DePrisco 
David McGullouj^h 

Pamela Seij^le 

William O. Taylor 

Kim-Lan Tran 



MISSIONS POSSIBLE 

Since the BPL bej^an in two-room quarters on Mason Street in 1854, it 
has seen growth in structures and mission. In celebration of its 
Centenary in 1953/1954, the main J^oals cited were need for more shelf 
space, breathing space, and work space. 

On December 11, 1972, the opening of the great structure 
designed by architect Philip Johnson exceeded the missions expressed 
more than one hundred years earlier. At the opening festivities, poet 
David McGord reminded the gathering, "The real books set their hooks 
in your brain." And Mayor Kevin WTiite commented: "Even this stately 
hall is nothing more than a granite building — full of paper and film 
and tape recorders — until it is brought to life by real people in the 
greatest imaginable numbers." Publicity releases at the time described 
the building as a "steadfast ship carrying a cargo of wealth as it enters a 
new period of library service," 




Illustration by Rudolph Ruzicka 



In May 1994, followinj^ the official reopeninj^ of the McKim 
building, the maj^^nificent "people's palace" again symbolized the 
changing face of BPL structures and once again emerged as the most 
beautiful public building in America. With Phase I now completed, the 
McKim building boasts the restoration of both art and utilitarian 
essentials. From the vaulted mosaic ceiling and brass-ornamented floor 
of the lobby, up the great staircase flanked by the restored Puvis de 
Ghavannes murals, the building glows with refurbished marble and 
bronze and canvas. And for the greater convenience and mobility of 
patrons there are new elevators, modem rest rooms, and handicap 
access. The basement, formerly a place of pipes and dark storage areas, 
is now reached by a marble stairway leading to new public areas. Today 
the restoration continues, promising complete renovation of Bates Hall 
and the adjacent areas on the second floor extending over to the 
northwest staircase and down to a renovated Newspaper Room. 



SPECIAL CENTENNIAL '98 ISSUE 'tZl^" 



S(>tingl9<,*5 




Tlic mimD& of The HYDE PACK DDANQl LIBDADY 

A Capital Plan! 

FrieniLs of The Hyde Park Branch Library uisued a special edition of their 
newsletter in celebration of the plan for restoration. 



FY95 saw other major plans for building restorations. At Hyde 
Park Branch in March, Mayor Menino assembled city department heads 
and library officials to unveil Boston's Five-Year Capital Plan, 1996- 
2000, which includes the renovation and expansion of Hyde Park 
Branch and a new branch library for the AUston neighborhood. 

A CHRONICLE OF CHANGES 

Again and again the message of FY95 was one of moves and changes to 
increase space and to improve efficiency. The lower level and first floor 



of the McWm buildinj^ were dramatically renovated; the Government 
Documents Department was moved to new quarters, and the 
Dartmouth Street entrance was opened once aj^ain. Development of the 
Norwood facility for remote storaj^e and statewide distribution of 
services proj^ressed with a continuing need to develop routines and 
procedures. 

Interlibrary Loan moved from the second floor of the Johnson 
buildinj^ to a space carved out of Resources and Processing on the third 
floor, making it possible to unite Interlibrary Loan and Telefax 
functions and staff. Prints were moved from the Print Department area 
to the jurisdiction of the Fine Arts Department. 

In the General Library, the newly renovated Children's Room 
was re-opened. Thanks to the generosity of Robert Artick in memory of 
his wife Elvira Vecchione Artick, the room was transformed into a 
lively, beckoning, colorful center of books, programs, and activities. 
The direction of central and branch services to children and young 
adults was this year strengthened through the reinstatement of the 
position of Coordinator of Youth Services. The Access Center was 
integrated as part of the Adult Readers and Information Services of the 
General Library. Change and still more change was the touchstone of 
FY95. 

Change Revealed in Catalog Subject Headings 

Probably no more visible proof of changing priorities in the 
world served by the Library exists than in the hundreds of new subject 
headings introduced in FY95. To read them is to see a fascinating range 
of good news and bad in our nation and beyond. 

To cite a few headings: Antitakeover strategies; Beepers; 
Brownouts; Downsizing of organizations; Psychological abuse; 
Attention deficit disorder in adults; Computer hackers; Hair growth 
stimulants; Telephone sex; and Grandparents as parents. 

And the list is endless. There's human genome; Nanny 
placement agencies; Tae kwon do; Internet advertising; Monoxidil; 
True crimes television programs; Husband abuse; Gay military cadets; 
Patterning therapy; Womanist theology; Psychic readings; Gambling on 
Indian reservations; and Roadside litter. 

And so it is that the pains and plusses of being alive today 
shout out in something as seemingly mundane as the library catalog. 



YEAR OF THREATENED BUDGET CUTS 
and LOSS OF FUNDING 

In the year of his presidency of the American Library Association, 
Library Director Arthur Gurley joined Patricia Glass Schuman, past 
president, in a Wck-Off Campaign for "Getting the Message to 
Congress," a crucial call for federal funding. Novelist E. L. Doctorow 
was quoted: "The three most important documents a free society gives 
are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card." Postcards were 
circulated by The City-Wide and neighborhood Friends Groups for 
mailing to legislators during National Library Week. The campaign was 
non-stop. 

Thanks to efforts of the Boston Public Library Foundation and 
Bay State Congressmen to secure funding from the federal government 
for the proposed 1^50 million restoration of the McKim, a National 
Historic Landmark building, a $2 million grant was announced this 
year by the Department of the Interior Historic Preservation Trust. 
The "push was on" and continues as this report goes to press. 

Syndicated columnist Bob Greene joined the cry for help: 
"Maybe it's just another sign of the times," he wrote. "Money is scarce, 
and downtown areas of big cities aren't what they once were, and there 
are so many demands for public funds. A library is just a library. 
Except we all know that it is so much more." 

He quoted the late Robert Kennedy: "For there is another kind 
of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the 
bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and 
inaction and slow decay." And Greene added: "When you close the 
doors of a library, you can hear the echoes of the slam forever." 

In still another column, Greene turned to comments by some 
well-known Americans on the importance of libraries in their 
childhood and adult lives: Ed Bradley, correspondent, "60 Minutes," 
remembered his childhood in Philadelphia: "The library was a window 
to the world, a pathway to worlds and people far from my 
neighborhood." And former TV anchor Walter Cronkite: "Without [the 
library] untold numbers of our citizens would be deprived of the means 
to serve their curiosity, would be deprived of learning, would be 
deprived of the very foundations of an education. Whatever the cost of 
our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant 
nation." 



Another firoup of people paying testament to libraries was 
represented rij^ht here in Boston by homeless Michael Brennan. 
Interviewed by The Boston Globe in 1991, he said, "I learned enouj^h 
at the Boston Public Library last summer to transform me from a 
homeless, ex-con, day laborer into a full-time free-lance writer in less 
than a year." 

"I HAVE A QUESTION" 

For the third year in a row, Telephone Reference increased the number 
of questions it answered for the public. The FY95 report notes: "The 
variety of people's questions tests our professional and personal skills," 
requiring a "change of gears mentally." Besides saying "hello" and 
"good-bye," much has been done to streamline department operations. 

Another DIALOG password has been acquired to prevent long 
waits by the public; a "QUIGKREF" looseleaf combines the "Reference 
Information" and "Libraries Guide" notebooks. 

Even as they answer the ringing phones, staff are planning 
additional tools and time-savers for their service. Although not 
officially adopted, the staff follows the motto: "So many questions, so 
little time." In FY95 a total of telephone queries numbered 56,092; 
and Information Desk queries, 66,838. 

A GREAT REPORT CARD 

In its inspection of the Government Documents Department of the 
Boston Public Library as a Federal Depository Library, the U.S. 
Government Printing Office identified the areas of successful operation 
and those needing improvement. In the six years since the last 
inspection, the Library emerged on the plus side with seven areas in 
compliance and only one, falling slightly short in maintenance of 
records of holdings, in noncompliance. 

Unique in the 8th Congressional District as the only public 
library serving as a depository, the Boston Public Library is proud to 
receive such a report card. The Government Documents Department 
has always achieved high marks in all areas of service from quick 
retrieval of users' requests to special booklists, and other in-demand 
publications. The present favorable government report results, in part, 
from several significant improvements and changes in the McKim 



restoration. In the words of the report, "The environmental factors in 
this hbrary have changed dramatically since the last inspection. There 
is now air conditioning^, humidity control, and the storage area has 
been waterproofed." Other quantum leaps of the department relate to 
personal computers organized in a local area network and faxes for the 
staff; and for users, state-of-the-art electronic searching capabilities 
and microfiche reader/printers have been provided. 

FOR THE BUSINESS WORLD 

In giving a profile of users in FY95, Wrstein Business Branch noted a 
continuing trend of more investors and fewer job seekers. Many groups 
and agencies send their clients to Kirstein. Among them: WBZ's Gall for 
Action program, U.S. Small Business Administration, Service 
Corporation of Retired Executives, Internal Revenue Service, Social 
Law Library, and business schools. 

Staff of the branch offered fourteen tours, among them: 
students from an Import-Export Seminar at Minuteman Technical 
Institute, members of an investment club of Boston City Hall, a group 
of Independent Career Counselors, and students from the Burdett 
School and Boston LIniversity's School of Management. 

A MECCA OF ART 

For artists, art galleries, architects, authors, art and architectural 
historians, students, auctioneers — an endless list of patrons — the 
Fine Arts Department is a unique Mecca of information. Usage 
statistics for FY95 confirm this dramatically. For example, phone 
reference questions rose by 2.9% and in-person reference queries were 
up by 2.5%. The statistics for reading room use and inquiries and 
phone queries were the highest recorded by the department in the past 
ten years. 

Behind this evidence of public service, the staff were busy 
selecting significant acquisitions, sorting and indexing special 
collections, and maintaining files, all activities that cannot be 
quantified here; but the department qualifies as a magnificent Mecca. 

GROWTH / ACTIVITY / CHANGE 

Space here defies listing all of this year's activities, the increasing 
reliance on electronic equipment, and staff achievements in each 



department, office, or branch of the Library. Exclusion here does not 
diminish the volume and importance of work achieved. 

Science Reference undertook a major vveedinj* of the collection 
in anticipation of the department's move to new quarters in the 
restored basement. The Social Science Department, with virtually no 
work space, dealt effectively with substantial increases in reference 
services while consolidatinj^ the reference collection for both the move 
to temporary quarters durin}^ the renovations and subsequent new 
permanent quarters in Bates Hall. Humanities Reference noted this 
year a considerable rise in the number of in-person inquiries (probably 
because of the Dartmouth Street openinj^) and j^reat numbers (185) of 
on-line searches. 

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE 
TO DO SO MANY THINGS 

Once described by David McGord as "a venture into the undeveloped 
field of geriatrics," the Library's Never Too Late Group was founded in 
1950 by a committee of senior adults, a social worker, and two library 
staff members. The group is the longest existing library-sponsored 
program for senior adults in the country. And since its beginnings, it 
has grown and grown and grown. In FY95 the mailing list numbered 
more than two thousand; and the attendance every Thursday afternoon 
from September through June ranges from 150 to 350. Almost 8,000 
people attended the 35 programs presented in FY95. 

Based on the philosophy that it is never too late to gain new 
knowledge, to discover new interests, and meet new friends, down the 
years the programs have appealed to diverse interests and drawn 
distinguished guests to the dais, among them Dr. Paul Dudley White. In 
celebration of its 45th anniversary this year, the Never Too Late Group 
assembled eight impressive panelists in the field of aging to focus on a 
range of issues leading to resolutions for submission to the White 
House Conference on Aging. 

THE BPL THINKS POSITIVE 

This year's reports repeatedly showed pictures of increase and growth 
in users, reference queries, walk-in patrons, program attendance, 
availability of CD-ROM databases and work stations, acquisition of 



items for special collections, microfilm sets, an unendinj* picture of 
transmission on the information highways, which leads to and from the 
BPL. 

In a continuing effort to monitor the Boston Public Library's 
performance in circulation and services, we have tracked and 
compared average performances among a comparable group of 
municipal public library systems since FY93 — Baltimore, Detroit, 
Washington, D.G., Milwaukee, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, 
and Seattle. Relative to the average among these libraries, the BPL 
showed the following in FY95: 

• 84% higher in the percent of the population registered for 

library cards; 

• 19% higher in circulation per capita * 

• 44% higher in reference transactions per capita; and 

• 31% higher in program attendance per capita. 

• One sanguine report of the circulation of materials for the 
Adult Services Department in Central said that circulation 
"skyrocketed" this year, and attributed the phenomenal increase to 
excellent book selection, knowledge of the public's reading tastes, a 
speedy replacement strategy, and a contract for best sellers. 

THE BPL MAKES HEADLINES 

In an impressive finale to ten years of fund-seeking, planning, 
identification and location of newspapers, coordination with public and 
private publishers and organizations, microfilming, and much more, 
the Library concluded the Massachusetts Newspaper Program. In 1986 
the Library became the coordinating institution for the Program under 
the aegis of the United States Newspaper Program. Funding has come 
from several sources including the National Endowment for the 
Humanities, the Higher Education Act Title II Program of the U.S. 
Department of Education, and Harvard University. The concluding 
year of the project brought added inclusions to the newspapers 
originally scheduled for microfilming including the publications of the 
American .Jewish Historical Society. 

As the Program reached its finale, the official count of catalog 
records numbered 8,127, and local data records mounted to 18,379. 



8 



ANNIVERSARIES 

Celebrating the 100th birthday of Boston comedian Fred Allen, the 
Never Too Late Group presented a reception and slide lecture by 
Robert Taylor, author of Fred Allen: His Life and Wit. 




Robert Taylor is 
photographed here 

cutting the Fred 
Allen birthday cake 

Another anniver- 
sary was celebrated 
by the Music Depart- 
ment. Their remem- 
brance took the form 
of a major exhibition, 
"Happy 100th, Mr. 
Pops," paying tribute 
to Boston's renowned 
Arthur Fiedler. 

And the Music 
Department hosted a 
second anniversary in 
observance of the 
arrival in the Library 
of the Allen S. Brown 
Music Collection one 
hundred years ago. 

As Sinclair H. 
Hitchings, Keeper of 
Prints, noted report, 
"We are in the arts and crafts years now; almost every month brings a 
significant anniversary from a hundred years ago, when Boston briefly 
became the center of the arts and crafts in America." In observance of 
1895, the great poster year, the Print Department offered two major, 
significant exhibitions titled "Boston's Art of the Poster" and "Posters 
by Ethel Reed." "Boston's Art of the Poster" linked the poster makers 
of a century before with Boston's present-day poster designers. 



BOOKS ON THE SUPERHIGHWAY? 

A whole new lanj^uaj^e, arcane until you "j^et into" electronic 
communication, seems at times to be supplanting* the work of 
lexicoj^raphers. The code-breakers of World War II had an easy time of 
it compared to decoding today's vocabulary of the computer, old words 
with new meaninji^s, new words or initialisms. There are icons and 
toolbars, bullets and bulletin boards, status lines and mouse 
technoloj5y, clicks and Gtrl's — the list is endless and js^rowing. 

As the means and modes of electronic communication 
burj^eoned in FY95, the BPL — and libraries everywhere — headed into 
a period of reflection, debate, crisis, decision-makinj*. Will books 
become obsolete? How does the library balance its budj^et between 
print and hardware/software? How does the library serve children and 
adults who may now be stumbling, but soon will be running on the 
superhighway? So many questions, how many answers? 

In a fascinating history of the book/library movement from 
Alexandria to today, Boston Globe writer Mark Feeney in "Shelf Life" 
(5 .Tune 1994) summed it up this way: "Words on paper, words on a 
screen: Either way, public libraries are still providing knowledge to 
anyone willing to take the trouble to sign up for a card." He concluded, 
quoting BPL Director Arthur Gurley: "All these new vistas opened up 
by technology are extremely exciting. Yet while they expand the 
library's mission, they don't change it. The child who's inspired by a 
picture book is still going to be inspired by that picture book. 
Maintaining this balance between old and new will be a perplexing 
task, but we're not about to give up one part of our mission simply 
because there's a certain glamour attached to another part of it." 

Maintaining that balance in FY95, Boston's young people 
reached the "on-ramp" of the superhighway via what is called the 
"BPL/BPS Gateway System," now fully operational. In this major step 
forward, Boston schools are linked with Library resources, numbering 
more than 6 million books and 1,000 periodicals, as well as gaining an 
access point to the Internet. Seen as the most important step the 
schools can take in the instructional use of technology and telecom- 
munications, this computer linkage means that Boston Public School 
students at selected locations will have direct access to the Boston 
Public Library's numerous catalogs and databases, as well as the 



10 



holdinj^s of all the MBLN member libraries. Also durinj^ FY95, throuj^h 
special funding via the Boston Public Library Foundation, 
microcomputers were placed in all of the branches' children's areas 
and in the General Library Children's and Younj^ Adult rooms, thus 
providing young library patrons with the same capabilities that the 
students have in the schools. 

For those seeking answers via the latest in communication, the 
BPL's Internet address is \V\\^V. BPL.ORG. 

THE LIBRARY and A DISTINGUISHED AUTHOR 

In April 1995, a major award for worldwide fiction published or 
translated into English was heralded in Dublin, The International 
IMPAG Dublin Literary Award. The Boston Public Library was invited 
to nominate books for consideration and then a judge. 

Bostonian Robert Taylor, with numerous ties to the Library, 
was selected as one of five panelists who will make the first IMPAG 
award in 1966. He will join Ghristopher Hope of .lohannesburg. South 
Africa; Lidia ,Iorge of the Algarve; Brendan Kennelly of Gounty Kerry, 
Ireland; and Luisa Valenzuela of Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

THE LIBRARY AS PUBLISHING HOUSE 

Gontinuing its role as publishing house, the Library embarked on 
several ambitious goals in FY95. 

In the third creative collaboration, the Boston Public Library 
Foundation and the Library added parochial and private schools to a 
competition, which resulted this year in two books, each titled Boston 
— Our City. Elementary young people through the high school grades 
directed their talents and imagination to representing Boston in 
photos, drawings, verse, essay, and drama. In the award ceremony for 
the winners, Boston Public Library Trustee and Senate President 
William M. Bulger noted that "one cannot pursue education without 
reading books... one cannot read without becoming more educated." 

More than seventy-five works are included in this remarkable 

little book. They are light-hearted and sad, perceptive and delightfully 

expressed in word and picture. To quote Alirio Moran, in part: 

Our library is our blessing, 

a part of Boston . . . 

An oasts, in this 

Our city! 

11 



And by Kimberly Aiin Pecci, a student at Brijiihton Hij^h School: 

/ Have Stood on a Hill 
I was horn in 1S44. 
I originated on 
Upper Academy Hill Road. 
I sent my first graduates 
to Harvard and to Yale. 
My students then 
were not much different 
from the ones today. 
Since 1930 
I have stood on a hill 
next to St. Elizabeth's Hospital. 
Sometimes I am called 
A fortress, 
A jail, 
and even a castle. 

Two drawinj^s by Kenneth Washington and John Lennon add wit and 
welcome to the book: 



Dinind in Boston 







12 



Also released this year were numerous handsome, timely 
booklists for adults, younjt^ adults, and children. Among them: "New 
Aj»e Spirituality," "Sij^hts and Sounds of the Holocaust," "Readinj^ 
Rainbow," "Black is ...," and "Small Business Blueprint." 

In Castle Island and Fort Independence by historian/teacher 
Dr. William .1. Reid, the story of a small island in Boston Harbor 
emerj^es as a chronicle rife in strategic impact, mystery, tragedy, and 
social importance since 1638. 




y|" 



^m-j 




rss^^ 




Dr. Reid describes how renowned builder of clipper ships, Donald McKay, 
was remembered in a monument on Castle Island close to where McKay's 
shipyard and dwelling were situated. 



DONORS AND DONATIONS 

Public-spirited people with deep commitment to books this year 
donated to the buildings and services of the BPL: 

A retired teacher at Hyde Park High School, Robert Artick 
made a major donation in memory of his late wife Elvira Vecchione 
Artick. His wife, herself a teacher, once said, "If you can read, you can 
do almost anything." Moved by devotion to Mrs. Artick and his shared 



13 



belief in the power of books, Artick j^ave a substantial j^ift for the 
purpose of renovatinj^ the Children's Room in the Central Library. 

John D. Merriam, a brilliant lawyer and collector of thousands 
of books and prints, this year bequeathed to the Library probably the 
largest and most valuable individual donation since Vattemare j^ave his 
modest gift of books. The bequest numbered thousands of prints, 
drawings, illustrated books, and an endowment, all valued at more than 
three million dollars. Merriam's home so overflowed with his 
collections that as Keeper of Prints Hitchings put it, "The collector 
himself slept in a Spartan bed in one small room." 

Since 1977, Sinclair Hitchings had worked with .John Merriam 
creating exhibitions and exhibit catalogs drawn selectively from 
Merriam's collections, particularly illustrated children's books* and 
fantasy prints and drawings. In November 1994, Merriam died just at 
the time a special exhibition titled "Collector's Choice," was underway 
in the Library's Wiggin Gallery. The collector had looked forward to 
the show for many years but was unable to attend. With his death, the 
exhibition time was extended and retitled "To Remember .John 
Merriam." (*Note the Artzybasheff print on the cover of this report.) 

The Boston Public Library Foundation raised 1^450,000 at a 
gala featuring an elegant reception in the McKim building's newly 
restored foyer and Chavannes Gallery and a dinner under a tent in the 
central courtyard. Co-hosts were Governor William F. Weld, Senate 
President William M. Bulger, and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. 

In their sixth annual "Literary Lights Dinner" the Associates of 
the Boston Public Library assembled an impressive gathering of 
authors for the fundraising event. Featured speakers were two 
distinguished award winners: David McCullough and Saul Bellow. 
McCullough is particularly known to TV viewers for his TV narrations 
and as a recently appointed trustee of the Library. 

FY95 yielded hundreds of donations in funds and gifts too 
numerous to recite here, but valuable for the areas that they so 
generously enriched. There were gifts from government agencies. 
Friends groups, corporations, and individuals. When Officer DeMarco 
of the Boston Police Department witnessed the outreach efforts of the 
children's chess program at Uphams Corner, she recommended and it 
was awarded a grant from the Department's One Step Closer 
Neighborhood Policing Project. As a result, the branch purchased four 



14 



electronic chess sets and ten self-teachinj^ frames with a grant of 
{53,000. 

At West End Branch a wrouj^ht iron fence around the 
perimeters of the lawns was erected. Fundinj^ came from the Browne 
Fund of the City of Boston with additional funding from the Beacon 
Hill Garden Club, the Society for the Preservation of New England 
Antiquities, and the Charles River Park Management Corporation. 

Many rare gifts (and purchases) were acquired by the Rare 
Books and Manuscripts Department. For example, from the deputy 
archivist of Baring Brothers, London, came a copy of the house 
correspondence of .Joshua Bates when he was a member of that firm. 
Other rare items included a signed document concerning the sloop 
Molley out of Newport, 1752; and Nathaniel Low's Astronomical 
almanaque for the year 1 779. 

PROGRAMS 

Without listing all the services to users and tourists, which 
generate sometimes awesome visitor/patron attendance numbers, we 
recite here the fact that there were 4,052 programs in FY95 with a 
total attendance of 135,889. Here is a breakdown of the figures and a 
sampling of the types of programs offered: 



Children's Programs: 2,866 Attendance 
YA Programs: 109 Attendance 

Adult Programs: 1,077 Attendance 



83,334 

2,984 

49,571 



SPECIAL COLLECTIONS 

Part of the Library's greatness as a major research library 
involves holdings that range from incunabula to silver and gold medals; 
from the first book published in the colonies to a .loan of Arc collection 
assembled by Boston-bom .lohn Cardinal Wright; from the Robert Feer 
Collection of World Fairs of North America to the library of Nathaniel 
Bowditch, the "American Navigator"; from memorabilia of comedian 
Fred Allen to the personal library of our nation's second president, 
.John Adams. The Special Collections now number more than 200 with 
virtually hundreds of thousands of individual inclusions. 



15 



The Library numbers 
hundreds of unique 
exhibits and dioramas 
amon^ its permanent 
holdings. There are 
dioramas crafted by 
Louise Stimson: The 
Arabian Nights, Print- 
makers at Work, The 
London of Charles 
Dickens, and (at right) 
Alice in Wonderland. 
From the talented 
fingers of Glare Dennis 
the Library has more 
than 350 portrait dolls 
from literature and life. 
Shown here is Alice 
from a Japanese cata- 
log. Both the Stimson 
diorama and the Alice 
dolls by Dennis were 
exhibited in a chain of 
Japanese department 
stores for an Alice in 
Wonderland festival, 




AGE-LEVEL SERVICES 
Children 

At Adams Street Branch the Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Glub 
exhibited art works by its students — everything from handmade 
puppets to gingerbread houses. 

East Boston Branch's summer reading program, "Ticket to 
Read," brought out more than 400 children accompanied by adults 
during the summer. Ghildren made clown masks, engineer hats, flags, 
and totem poles, viewed a model railroad car in the display case, and, 
at the grand finale, ate ice cream. 



16 



Ej^leston Square Branch: Children viewed a performance by the 
Roxbury Outreach Shakespeare Experience (the ROSE). The bard was 
brought to life for younj^ people who may have never heard of him or 
thouf^ht he was dull. As the report said, "ROSE makes Shakespeare the 
rapper of his day." 

Parker Hill Branch: A resounding show by The Children's 
Symphony for Young Audiences. In addition to performing, the group 
showed how wind goes through the various horns and even used a 
garden hose to demonstrate another music point. 

Another musical series was directed to children by the General 
Library Children's Room. Music and Movement was designed as eight 
sessions for ages 3-5. 

Youn^ Adults 

At South End Branch, in a collaborative, creative effort, the 
South End Drug-Free Committee of Boston Against Drugs joined forces 
with the South End News to sponsor an essay contest on drugs. The 
essay winners were feted at a reception funded by the Friends of the 
South End Branch, and the essays were then exhibited. At Brighton 
Branch an ex-gang member presented an anti-drug, anti-crime 
program. 

And in a quite different focus, young people at .Jamaica Plain 
attended their first young adult program at that branch: a performance 
by the Roxbury Outreach Shakespeare Experience. 

Adults 

Brighton Branch hosted a meeting of the Brighton Board of 
Trade on business information sources at both the branch and Wrstein 
Business Branch. In still another focus on business, Grove Hall Branch 
sponsored a series of seven marketing and sales training seminars for 
minority business people. Like so many library programs, this series 
was a collaborative effort, in this case involving the Neighborhood 
Development Corporation of Grove Hall and the City of Boston's 
Public Facilities Department. 

Charlestown Branch featured a slide tour of the Boston Harbor 
Islands, a unique Boston State Park. .\nd still another "living history" 



17 



experience was the presentation at Godman Square of Company A: 
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry re-enactors who depicted the 
first black reji^iment raised in the North during the Civil War. Another 
reenactment was performed by Supervisor of Neighborhood Library 
Services Gloria Tibbs in her role as Elizabeth Eckford, the Little Rock 
student who attempted to integrate Gentral High School in 1957. 

Programs Ethnic and Cultural 

Faneuil Branch celebrated St. Patrick's Day with an Irish Step 
Dance perfonnance by girls ages 6-14 wearing traditional costumes. 
Pots of gold, various Irish breads and cookies, and special hats were 
part of the day. 

Fields Gomer: "A Gup of Beauty," an exhibition of paintings, 
crafts, poetry, and narratives by Vietnamese Boat People. 

Mattapan Branch: a storyteller entertained with tales from the 
Caribbean and a Kwansaa program. 

Roslindale: a Black History Month program for children was 
conducted by actor, poet, and storyteller Rachelle Gamer Goleman 
about Nat Love, a slave born in Tennessee who went west at the age of 
fifteen to seek freedom and equal opportunity. 

South Boston: the 15th annual Memorial Lecture in memory of 
Marjorie M. Gibbons featured the Rev. Albert Gontons, pastor of St. 
Peters Lithuanian Ghurch, speaking on "A Gentury of Lithuanians 
from the Baltic Sea to South Boston." 

Gonnolly: In memory of children's librarian Edith Bravo, who 
died this year, the staff and friends of Gonnolly Branch sponsored a 
memorial program to purchase books in Spanish for the branch. 

The General Library Children's Room put together a veritable 
tapestry of ethnic programs and activities: With Russian focus: two 
Russian ballets, a puppet show titled "A Russian Cinderella," and a 
workshop on Ukrainian collage. With Chinese emphasis: workshops on 
mask making, rice dough sculpture, and Chinese brush painting by the 
Chinese Culture Connection, as well as five origami workshops on 
Sundays. 

Other Programs of Creativity 

West Roxbury, in the spirit of several branch program efforts 
that focused on creativity from art to music to drama to writing, 



18 



entered its seventh year of the Intergenerational Poetry Contest. The 
effort has yielded some dynamic spin-offs: writinj^ workshops, judging 
each year of some 450 to 550 poems, a peer-led writers' group, and 
more and more. 

The Young Adults Room witnessed increased attendance and 
excitement over this year's creative writing workshop. Featured was 
author Chris Lynch who, as the report notes, was always popular but 
became "hot" because of his recently-published Gypsy Davy. 

Other Collaborative Programs 

The history of the Library continues to be one of collaboration with 
educational, community, special interest, governmental, and age-level 
groups. This year was no exception, as indicated by several activities 
already cited. One such rewarding collaboration was involvement with 
MOST (Making the Most of After School Time for School Age 
Children). This enabled the Library to promote and demonstrate to 
After School Time Programs the services offered to their charges. 

The Special Projects arm of Community Library Services 
continued a collaboration described by Special Projects Librarian Ellen 
Graf as "a triad of libraries, bookstores, and publishers that brings to 
the Library some of the most talented and distinguished writers — 
among them, Doris Keams Goodwin, .Joseph Heller, .Joyce Carol Oates, 
P. D. .James, Sister Souljah, Betty Friedan, and Nadine Gordimer." 
WOW! 

The Music Department continued its cooperative microfilming 
of the scrapbooks of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

Codman Square Branch hosted four fall Saturday workshops 
sponsored by The House of Have a Heart, an umbrella organization 
which includes Catholic Charities, Project IMPACT, and Children's 
Services of Roxbury. 

Annual Programs 

North End: The 47th annual Mary U. Nichols Program featured 
the awarding of books to two students for "excellence in English" and 
Inga Boudreau, newly appointed Coordinator of Youth Services as 
speaker. 

South Boston: 23rd annual Art Festival. In addition to a display 
of art by local artists, there were two performances of "Strangers," a 
play by local playwright, director, and actor Thomas Sypek, 



19 



REACHING THE DISABLED AND HOMEBOUND 

In its materials, equipment, programming, and building adaptations, 
the Library moved forward in welcoming and serving patrons with 
specials needs. To name just a few examples; 

A dynamic Deaf Awareness program, planned by Kathleen 
Hegarty under the auspices of the Access Services section of the 
General Library, reached two audiences, deaf adults and students from 
schools for the deaf. The presenter, Alec Naiman, an independent 
photojournalist, discussed in voice-interpreted sign languages his work 
with deaf people in Beirut in 1989 and deaf refugees in Thailand in 
1991. 

Staff of the Mobile Library Services Department made a total of 
476 visits to deposit collection sites and homebound individuals 
reaching a total of 6,866 people. 

AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE 

The Audiovisual Department continued its popular film series this year 
highlighting Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Lauren Bacall, and westerns. 

The most dramatic increase was in the circulation of non-print 
media (videos, audio-cassettes, compact discs, and recordings): 





FY94 


FY95 


% Increase 


GLAV 


62,669 


97,250 


18% 


Branches 


25,676 


30,360 


55% 


Total 


88,345 


127,610 


44% 



More and more, first-time patrons, children, young adults, and 
newly arrived immigrants used the department. 

SERVICE TO NEW AMERICANS 

In the twenties, when thousands of arrivals were answering the statue's 
call of "Give us your tired, your huddled masses," the Library offered 
evening courses for immigrants learning English and preparing for 
citizenship. Down the years that commitment continues and has 
accelerated. 

In 1984 the Library received a federal LSCA Title I grant to 
build special collections for adults learning English. In 1987 the Boston 
Globe Foundation donated half a million dollars to establish an 



20 



endowment for reading enhancement proj^rams and collections. And 
the Library embarked on system-wide coordination of literacy 
activities. Most recently the City-Wide Friends launched a pilot literacy 
proj^ram specifically j^eared to ESL (Enj^lish as a Second Lanj[^uaj^e) 
students. V^olunteers were trained to serve as tutors. 

In addition to workinj^ jointly with the Friends, the Special 
Projects Office has assisted with "Conversation Tables," an offshoot of 
the ESL tutorinj[5 activity. In this small-group format, students from all 
over the world have an opportunity to improve their English. 

Partnerships continued with the Jewish Vocational Service 
Family Literacy Program and the Young Lawyers Section of the Boston 
Bar Association. 

Busy, busy marks the Library's service for ESL adults, the 
elderly, the disabled, and low-income people in everything from 
learning English to income tax preparation. 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS 

It has been said that the philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose thoughts 
so influenced the world's thinkers, never went beyond the bounds of 
his hometown Konigsberg. Here in this remarkable public library and 
its branches, we have worlds within worlds, worlds that have no walls, 
no bounds. Kant is here and Kongisberg and all the thinkers, artists, 
poets, historians — all the movers and shakers of history who accept 
your company, feed your mind, and touch your soul. 

In his speech at the celebration of the hundredth anniversary 
of the McKim building, Vartan Gregorian, past president of the New 
York Public Library and present president of Brown University, put 
forth many moving, quotable truths about libraries. Listen to just a 
part of his definition: 

"Libraries have always occupied a central role in our culture. 
They contain our nation's heritage, the heritage of humanity, the 
record of its triumphs and failures, the record of mankind's 
intellectual, scientific and artistic achievements. They are the diaries 
of the human race, the instruments of civilization, a laboratory of 
human endeavor, a window of the future, a source of hope, a source of 
self-renewal. They are the symbol of our community with mankind. 
They represent the link between the solitary individual and mankind 
which is our community." 

21 



LIBRARY RESOURCES 

General Book Collections 

Volumes 6,581,736 

Special Collections 

Rare Books and Manuscripts 1,284,740 

Prints 1,239,560 

Patents 9,759,106 

Maps 372,929 

Government Documents 2,965,436 

Musical Scores 107,282 

Periodicals 

Current Subscriptions 18,533 

Non-Print Materials 

Audio-Recordinj^s 375,757 

Films & Video Cassettes 20,509 

Microforms 5,457,159 



LIBRARY USE 

Visitors 2,137,130 

Programs 4,052 

Program Attendance 135,889 

Items Borrowed 2,385,422 

Volumes Consulted 976,033 

Reference Inquiries 1,459,771 

Photocopies 1,498,000 



22 






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23 




This early postcard of the McKim Building, complete with trolley, carriage, 
and a lady with a fancy hat wa.s distributed by the Metropolitan News 
Company in Boston and made in Germany. Postage for postcards at the time 
were one cent for the United States and Island Possessions, Cuba, Canada, 
and Mexico. Two cents for foreign. 



24 



Libraries are as old as civilization — the 
object of pride, envy and sometimes senseless 
destruction. From the clay tablets of Babylon 
to the computers of a modern library stretch 
more than five thousand years of man s and 
wo7nans insatiable desire to establish written 
immortality and to insure the continuity of 
culture, and civilization, to share their 
triumphs, their memory, their wisdom, their 
strivings, their fantasies, longings, exper- 
ences with rnankind and future generations. 

Vartan Gregorian, President, Brown University, from 
a speech delivered on December 18, 1995, on the 
occasion of the celebration of the lOOth anniversary of 
the McKim Building. 



'»^'ii/nii'i