Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Introduction

Authored by Tom Blake on March 18th, 2012

The People of Massachusetts Will Have a Digital Library.

For the past several years, the BPL has been digitizing books, photos, maps, manuscripts, prints, and other library materials so that they may be accessible online. This work is done at two state-of-the-art digitization labs in our Central branch in Copley Square. Our digitized collections can be found under the “online collections” tab of our home page. Nearly 100,000 items can be explored and downloaded across a variety of websites.

More recently, we have begun digitizing materials from other libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies from across the state. This work is being funded by a federal grant awarded to us by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The goal of this project is to grow and support Digital Commonwealth, a consolidated statewide digital library system. Organizations with collections they would like to have digitized can apply for this service online. Already, more than 50 different organizations have asked to become partners with us so that they may contribute resources to our state’s digital library system. This is just one example of how we are using technology to make library resources accessible to as many people as possible throughout the city, the state, and beyond.

As part of this effort, the BPL Digital Services team has been traveling to many of our partner institutions to evaluate the items selected for digitization and to offer advice on how to best prepare these materials so that they may be seamlessly uploaded into the Digital Commonwealth system. Emerson College intern, Christina Manzo, has been accompanying us on many of these site visits. In addition to serving as a project liaison and conducting outreach to prospective applicants, Christina will be offering her perspective of the project in a series of blog posts to be featured here on our Compass Blog under the tags “Access and Innovation” and “Center of Knowledge” (principles IV and VI, respectively). Majoring in Communications and Dramaturgy, Christina is an avid and experienced library user and plans to pursue an advanced degree in Library and Information Science soon after she finishes her undergraduate coursework. We hope you enjoy her observations as we strive to extend and connect resources to libraries and library users across the Commonwealth. If there is a library, archives, museum, or historical society in your community that you would like to see involved with this project, please let us know by sending a message to digital@bpl.org!

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