The meeting of the Boston Public Library Collections Committee was held at the Boston Public Library, Trustees’ Room, Johnson Building, 3 rd floor, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 12 Noon
Present at the meeting were: Committee Chairman Brian Clancy, Committee Members: Ms. Mary Pfeifer Lentz, Mr. Mike Ewald, Mr. Rishi Bhalerao, Ms. Muffy Glauber, Ms. Susan Glover, Mr. Stuart T. Walker, BPL President Amy E. Ryan; Boston Public Library Associates Executive Director, Ms. Louisa Stephens; Boston Public Library Foundation, Ms. Colleen Greco; Boston Public Library staff: Ms. Laura Irmscher, Mr. Michael Colford, Ms. Karen Shafts, Ms. Jane Winton, Ms. Mary Frances O’Brien, Ms. Beth Prindle, Ms. Jan Spitz, Ms. Nancy Grilk, Clerk of the Board.
Absent from the meeting were: Mr. Jarvis P. Kellogg, Esq., Ms. Joan D. Wheeler, Ms. Judith Tick, Mr. Michael B. Keating, Esq., Mrs. Estrellita Karsh, Ms. Emily Kelsey, Mr. Robert Pemberton, Mr. Ronald Grim, Mr. Seth I. Rosen, and Ms. Susan Abbott, Esq. and Ms. Vivian Spiro.
Chairman Brian Clancy presided.
Chairman Clancy addressed the agenda item pertaining to the approval of the Minutes for the Boston Public Library Collections Committee (Committee) Meeting held on May 4, 2011. Discussion followed on future reporting by the Committee to the BPL Trustees. On a motion made and duly seconded, the Minutes of the Boston Public Library Collections Committee Meeting held on May 4, 2011 were approved with the inclusion of Ms. Susan Glover and Mr. Stuart T. Walker as Boston Public Library Collections Committee members, and subsequently posted on the Boston Public Library website.
The Chairman addressed the agenda item for the Draft Collection Development Policy (Draft Policy) and called upon Ms. Laura Irmscher, BPL Collection Development Manager to review each section of the Draft Policy and highlight major changes made since the May 4, 2011 Committee meeting. Ms. Irmscher highlighted inclusion of relevance to the interests and needs of the community as a criterion within the Research Collection acquisition section. Also noted in that section was the recent adoption of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s (Map Center) Acquisition Policy by the Map Center’s Board of Directors.
Committee discussion followed and determined that consistent with the Gifts section of the Draft Policy, Map Center acquisitions will be read into the official record of the Committee. The Committee also recommended that Appendix H (covering endowment guidelines) be added to the Gifts appendix.
Ms. Irmscher then reviewed each of the Appendix sections. The Committee expressed their gratitude for the excellent work that went into the Draft Policy and acknowledged Appendices E and F that cover the freedom to read and the freedom to view for their unequivocal commitment to information access and free choice.
On a motion made and duly seconded it was
VOTED: that, the Boston Public Library Collections Committee recommend the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston adopt the draft Boston Public Library Collections Development Policy with the inclusion of Appendix H in Subheading of Gifts.
Chairman Clancy called on Ms. Susan Glover, Committee member and BPL Keeper of Special Collections to address the next item on the agenda – the Collections of Distinction initiative. Ms. Glover reported that a more comprehensive presentation on this topic will be made at a future Committee meeting. The BPL Collections of Distinction will likely be twenty in number and represent large and significant collections that span the breadth of the entire Research Collection. At the Committee’s request Ms. Glover defined Collections of Distinction as those of enormous strength and importance to research scholarship and the preservation of our cultural heritage. The Collections of Distinction will continue to be augmented over time through acquisitions and gifts that build on current strengths and fill gaps. Collections of Distinction priorities will be informed by the Collection Development Policy. While the Collections of Distinction will include approximately four to five hundred thousand objects, the Research Collection also contains smaller, notable collections. The Chairman noted that Appendix A of the Draft Development Policy, if adopted, would be enormously helpful for Collections of Distinction acquisition and deaccession decision-making. President Ryan highlighted the development of the Collections of Distinction as a team effort. The policy will provide clarity to the reasoning behind acquisitions and deaccessions, and highlight the existence of these important collections.
The next agenda item included the announcement of an important acquisition that helps address gaps in the BPL’s Audubon collection. Specifically, the library has secured a Havell Edition Great Horned Owl plate. A substantial dealer discount, the generosity of Susan and Brian Clancy along with BPL restricted trust funds has enabled the library to purchase this important work. Committee member and BPL Book Conservator Director Stuart Walker presented the print to the Committee noting the remarkable level of conservation. The Chairman and Ms. Glover are working with renowned Audubon expert William Steiner to address other gaps in our Audubon holdings. One option currently being explored involves an in-kind trade with another major library.
The next agenda item addressed the Boston Public Library Draft Collection Recovery Plan (Plan). Ms. Susan Glover highlighted the critical importance of this Plan. The BPL created a Disaster Recover Plan several years ago however the document was found to be excessively complex. The BPL Preservation Team was charged with developing a new Collections Recovery Response plan to provide a clear blueprint to quickly respond to disasters. The team researched other similar institutions’ efforts and was particularly impressed with the recently created Boston Athenaeum plan - and grateful for their generosity in sharing their knowledge and insights. Ms. Glover reviewed the BPL Draft Plan and noted that in the event of a large magnitude disaster, the City of Boston Emergency Plan would guide the BPL’s efforts. It was also noted that staff would be evacuated from the building in the event of a disaster and allowed back in to assess possible damage once city safety officials declared the building safe. The BPL has existing contracts with disaster recovery contractors that can be mobilized immediately in the event of damage to the collections. This list will be reviewed and updated every six months.
It was noted that water damage is the most likely concern and the Plan clearly outlines contractors’ recovery actions. The Plan includes a BPL triage protocol and will set in motion a telephone notification alert. Additions will be made to this notification list to include Chairman Clancy and the BPL internal management notification system. The Plan clearly details the roles staff will undertake in conservation efforts to triage critical pieces to be immediately removed for conservation. The first forty-eight hours following water damage is critical. Discussion followed on mitigation of a broader risk of loss through placement of items in a variety of locations within the BPL and at the City of Boston Archives Center in West Roxbury. The Committee will annually review issues related risk-management, anti-theft and general security issues.
The next agenda item of New Business was addressed. Ms. Beth Prindle, Manager of Exhibits and Outreach provided an update on the ongoing Civil War commemoration including the Map Center’s Torn in Two exhibit and the Matthew Brady and Winslow Homer exhibits. Ms. Prindle announced that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a celebration of the work of Rafael Guastavino of which the BPL is the first major American example of his architectural vaulting techniques. The exhibition will start at the BPL in September of 2012 and then move on to Washington D.C. and New York City. It will be an interactive exhibit and will celebrate Mr. Guastavino’s immigrant family story.
An update was also provided on the opening of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center which is scheduled for October 22, 2012. This exciting project will include reading and research spaces and a beautiful public gallery.
President Ryan provided updates on BPL staff promotions: Michael Colford is the Director of Library Services; David Leonard is the Director of Administrative and Technical Services; and Sean Nelson the current Chief Financial Officer is a Division Director in charge of budget and finance. President Ryan also reported that the BPL has stabilized financially and continues to work assiduously with state elected officials. The Library of Last Recourse has changed to the Library for the Commonwealth with an expanded effort on digitized materials and access to them, made possible in part through state funding and a state grant.
The Associates of the Boston Public Library update was provided by Committee member Ms. Mary Lentz highlighting the upcoming Literary Lights for Children. Former Associates of the BPL Executive Director Betsy Hall is the Honorary Chair of the event. The event is designed to raise children’s awareness and appreciation of the written word and for the resources for writers provided by the BPL. It is a terrific event for children.
The proposed meeting schedule will be forthcoming.
Finally, Ms. Glover shared the sad news that long-time BPL Curator Jan Chadbourne passed away last week.
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 p.m.
Clerk of the Board