State Library of Massachusetts (Photo Courtesy of Alexandra Bernson)
All across the nation, librarians and patrons, authors and book lovers, and educators and students are celebrating National Library Week. The theme in 2022 is “Connect with your Library.”
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 State Library of Massachusetts, located at the State House on Beacon Hill, 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 Boston Public Library (BPL), founded in 1848 and acclaimed as the People’s Palace, continues to share its incredible collections of books, videos, music, genealogy resources and educational materials to the world. The BPL has 25 branch libraries in Boston’s neighborhoods.
The Boston Athenaeum on Beacon Street, founded in 1807, 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. Other Athenaeums in Massachusetts include the Salem Athenaeum, incorporated in 1810; the Berkshire Athenaeum, opened in 1872, the Nantucket Athenaeum, opened in 1834; and the Westfield Athenaeum, incorporated in 1864.
Many Massachusetts libraries are architectural gems. The Springfield City Library was funded by Andrew Carnegie and built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style in 1912. The Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy and the Malden Public Library were both designed by Henry H. Richardson, one of the nation’s preeminent architects of the 19th century.
There are 15 Trail Court Law Libraries in Massachusetts.
And here is a Directory of Public Libraries in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Library System is a handy resource providing services to about 1,600 Massachusetts libraries.
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.
The National Archives hold the permanent archival records of the federal government, and this month is releasing the 1950 U.S. Census. Massachusetts is fortunate to have two of the thirteen regional facilities located around the country, in Waltham and Pittsfield.
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.
For information about visiting Massachusetts, go to Visitma.com.