Guest post by Jeff Klapes, Head of Reference Services, Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Massachusetts

Beebe Library in Wakefield is a busy, medium-sized library serving a population of 25,000. We have a variety of historical collections, including photographs, postcards, maps, local government documents, and more. Boston Public Library has been invaluable in helping us digitize these materials for better access and preservation, scanning our maps, annual town reports, school yearbooks, and local history monographs for the Internet Archive. However, we’ve also worked on a number of other projects that we could manage ourselves. Two of these collections in particular are worth noting.
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UMass Lowell Libraries in partnership with the Tewksbury Museum of Public Health has nearly completed the first phase of a project to digitize intake records from the Tewksbury Almshouse.


Funding for this project was provided through a Library Services and Technology (LSTA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).
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First Parish in Brookline (FPB) Archives Project to bring 300 years of history out of the woods…

by Elizabeth Cousins, Archivist, First Parish in Brookline


Chapter One: First Steps on the “road of yellow bricks.”

Lyon Chapel at FPB, named after William Henry Lyon, Sixth Minister, is a lovely space where spirits are moved, ideas are exchanged and plans put into action. This is where ‘archives talk’ evolved into the Archives Project, driven by several factors: In 2012 the basement flooded. The rescued records were moved to premium space that administration could put to other use since our parish is growing; I, a trained Archivist, finally had time to commit to volunteering; and, FPB is anticipating its’ Tercentennial in 2017. During coffee hour over several Sundays, parishioners, the Minister and committee members expressed interest in access to historical records for a variety of reasons. These reasons in turn became the driver for joining Digital Commonwealth. Certain record series have high informational value for ongoing planning, strategic initiatives and reference purposes. We want to digitize these series so multiple committee members can access them remotely, so that Dr. Rev. Sherblom can search sermons by keyword, and to enable parishioners and the community at large to discover and explore our 300 years of evolution as a community of worship and social action.

During the Digital Commonwealth Conference (2014), I spoke with BPL Digitization Services staff. I described where the records were on the continuum of arrangement and description. In preparation for developing work plans for our processing priorities, I wanted to obtain their spreadsheet to capture required metadata before processing is begun. As it turns out, the spreadsheet is being revised, and the actual first step is submitting the online application for digitization servicesDONE!

The next step is a Team site visit, scheduled for early July. I’ll report on my second step down the “road of yellow bricks” next month!

A group of 14 public librarians gathered at the Boston Public Library on April 16, 2014 for the Public Librarian Partnership Program (PLPP). This is the first of three workshops offered by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to work directly with public librarians across the state to produce an exhibit of national interest from the wealth of material in the various archives . The goal is to have a total of 45 librarians attend these one day workshops by August 2014.

World War I Poster - Victory Girls
World War I Poster – Victory Girls, Springfield College Archives and Special Collections



Presenters from the Boston Public Library for the April workshop were Anna Fahey-Flynn (Collaborative Library Services Manager), Danny Pucci (Lead Digital Projects Librarian)  and Nichole (Metadata Mob member). Representing the Digital Public Library of  America (DPLA)  were Amy Ruddersdorf (Assistant Director for Content) and Franky Abbott (Project Manager). Information was provided in a well  organized, empowering and collaborative way and throughout the workshop we were reminded of the network and assistance  available through BPL and the network that is being created.

Davis & Furber Textile Machinery
Davis & Furber Textile Machinery, Lawrence Public Library Collection




Initially, there was an overview of the PLPP and how the various agencies – DPLA, BPL and Digital Commonwealth — work together cooperatively. Material was presented on evaluating an institution’s collection for material that has local significance but will interest a national and international audience. Issues such as raising awareness on copyright and urging the use of Creative Commons were discussed along with creating metadata and making use of help available through the Metadata Mob at the BPL. Some interesting themes emerged as possible exhibit topics: fires, floods, or other disasters; Civil War and World War I; shoe, textile, and  optical industries – many, many possibilities! The participants were excited with the seemingly endless number of possibilities and discussed the various aspects of potential collaborations.


The tour of the BPL Digital Imaging Lab, the Internet Archive, and the Metadata Mob office was excellent as it was an opportunity to finally meet all these great folks that have made the digitization of so many new collections by Digital Commonwealth members possible and who have guided all these collaborative projects through the various processes. And at the end there was an opportunity to visit the Dear Boston exhibit! Kudos to the curators!

For a schedule of the workshops and registration information visit this blog post:

More details about the PLPP is available in this DPLA blog by Franky Abbott:

Submitted by Margaret Morrissey
Library Director
Jacob Edwards Library

Digital Commonwealth will be hosting 3 upcoming workshops to prepare public libraries to contribute content to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) as part of a Public Librarian Partnership Grant recently awarded to DPLA by the Gates Foundation.

Bread and Roses Strike
Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, Lawrence History Center

In these workshops, public librarians will learn how to work with Digital Commonwealth to select content for digitization and/or identify existing digital content, digitize new content and provide metadata and contextualization for that content, and determine potential themes for DPLA, such as this exhibit concerning the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence: (

The workshop dates have been scheduled:

Wednesday, April 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Boston Public Library (Application deadline is April 9, 2014, 5pm)
Wednesday, June 18, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Jones Public Library, Amherst, MA
Wednesday, July 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at SAILS Inc., Lakeville, MA

The ideal candidates for these workshops will be public librarians who deal with local history, genealogy and similar unique content. If interested, registration is now available.

Digital Commonwealth board members Kim Cochrane and Deb Dejonker-Berry teamed up to present “Connect to the Community: Using Digital Commonwealth Collections to Develop Lesson Plans” at the MSLA conference on March 10, 2014 in Hyannis, Massachusetts:

The Massachusetts School Library Association annual conference is attended by school librarians and educators, and also graduate students in these fields.  Deb Dejonker-Berry, Director of the Eastham Public Library, gave an overview to Digital Commonwealth.  Kim Cochrane, Curriculum Librarian and Coordinator of Curriculum and Instructional Technology at Framingham State University, spoke about how school librarians and educators can use the online content available from Digital Commonwealth’s portal and repository, as well as some other websites, within the classroom.  Kim used some of the existing lesson plans developed with Digital Commonwealth’s content as examples:

Kim and Deb noticed that the session generated many positive responses!  Many attendees stated that they planned to use Digital Commonwealth’s website. Also some indicated they would explore opportunities to interact with their local cultural organizations that either are, or could be, Digital Commonwealth members and encourage these organizations to make digital content available via the new repository.

(Anne Reed is the Assistant Director for Administration at the Brookline Public Library)

The Public Library of Brookline has worked with the Digital Commonwealth since 2007 when Anne Clark uploaded 10 historical photographs into the repository, and provided feedback on the data entry and batch uploading process. From this beginning, Anne Clark and I selected the historic Brookline photographs to be digitized by a local company, Boston Photo Imaging, and with funding from our Board of Library Trustees we were ready to proceed. Anne Clark, Colin Wilkins and I provided the metadata for the photographs; once this task was completed everything was uploaded to the Digital Commonwealth repository. Pleased with the results we proposed a second project digitizing our glass plate negatives. Boston Photo Imaging scanned the negatives and saved the images to an external hard drive. We followed the same procedures as in the first project and these 101 images are now available in the Digital Commonwealth repository.

At the Digital Commonwealth Annual Conferences March 25, 2010 Anne Clark & I presented a session “Bringing the Past to the Future: The Digitization of the Historic Photograph Collection of the Public Library of Brookline”. We also shared our experiences at the April 26, 2011 Digital Commonwealth conference in the session, “From Your Archive to the Web: Managing the Project”. We encouraged libraries to ask questions, consult the experts and ad their collections to Digital Commonwealth.

Brookline Paint Shop
Brookline Paint Shop

We applied for digitization services from the Boston Public Library to have digital images created of our identified and numbered manuscript collections. The BPL’s Library for the Commonwealth program enables BPL staff to provide free digitization services to Digital Commonwealth members who want to make their collections available in the repository.

Our materials are now at the BPL being digitized by their state-of-the-art equipment.  Soon our Brookline High School yearbooks will also be available through the Internet Archives. Once our materials are returned we will begin the metadata entry. We are very fortunate to have the resources and expert staff of the Boston Public Library working to help to libraries and historical societies in the Commonwealth share digital collections.

The Public Library of Brookline’s collections may be seen in the current Digital Commonwealth repository  OR in the preview version of the upcoming new repository: 

Read more about the BPL’s digitization services for Digital Commonwealth members in this blog post: