(Bates Room at the Boston Public Library)
The theme for National Library Week 2020, “Find your place at the library,” seems more important than ever.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay at home directives, Massachusetts libraries are as relevant as ever. Open for business online, these public, private and college libraries are providing valuable virtual services and digital content for communities across the Commonwealth. E-books, movies, music, video games, virtual storytimes, scholarly materials and other resources are all available for residents and out-of-state visitors alike.
With over 370 public libraries and 1,400 academic and specialized libraries, Massachusetts has the nation’s first membership library (Boston Athenaeum, 1807) and the nation’s first public library (Boston Public Library, 1848). We have a presidential library (John F. Kennedy, 1979), hundreds of outstanding university libraries, two federal archives, and the world’s largest repository of books for the blind and deaf (Perkins School for the Blind).
The Boston Public Library (BPL), acclaimed as the People’s Palace, continues to share its incredible collections of books, videos, music, genealogy resources and educational materials to the world.
BPL President David Leonard wrote to library users, “Though our physical doors are closed to the public right now, our virtual doors are opening wider every day. We are taking this moment to expand our online offerings and to discover new ways we can bring you the kind of in-person service that we pride ourselves on. Classes are re-forming online; our librarians are here to respond to your questions, and we are expanding our content and reducing wait times for your favorite books.”
The Boston Athenaeum on Beacon Street, contains over half a million volumes, with particular strengths in Boston history, New England state and local history, biography, English and American literature, and the fine and decorative arts. The Athenæum supports a dynamic exhibition program and sponsors a lively variety of events such as lectures and concerts. It also serves as a stimulating center for discussions among scholars, bibliophiles, and a variety of community-interest groups.
The State Library of Massachusetts, located at the State House, has a vast collection of important government documents dating back to the founding of the nation. It also has official documents pertaining to Massachusetts’ participation in various wars, and all of the regulations and laws passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in its history. Search the State Library’s digital repository for more information.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum at Columbia Point in Dorchester is a federal repository of the papers and holdings of President Kennedy and his administration. The JFK is a treasure trove of information about the state’s native son, and also materials on mid-20th century politics in America. Sign up for the JFK Library’s weekly email digest of digital content.
The National Archives hold the permanent archival records of the federal government. Massachusetts is fortunate to have two of the thirteen regional facilities located around the country, in Waltham and Pittsfield.
The Massachusetts Library System has details on what local libraries are doing to remotely assist their customers.
Finally, check out Digital Commonwealth, a non-profit collaborative organization disseminates cultural heritage materials held by over 180 Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives.