Beacon Street Diary

June 15, 2009

Peggy and I attended a seminar last Friday on appraising library and archive material. Our presenter, Sid Berger of the Peabody Essex Museum, was quite knowledgeable.

Appraisal means different things depending on if you're talking about a librarian vs. an archivist. When a librarian reviews books, there are many factors, some of which are: what is its physical condition (tight binding, no loose pages), is it in demand, does it fit the collection policy?

When it is an archive collection, the processor is looking to see if there is duplication, what is its current storage condition; does it need to have folders and boxes replaced to keep it in as acid-free environment as possible. Similarly with books, does it fit in the collection policy?

One of Sid's more passionate arguments was that librarians and archivists may not offer a financial appraisal on anything. Ever. This was a point that I remember very clearly from library school. When our job is to preserve and offer access to information, determining its dollar value is a clear conflict of interest. It's also too easy for the unscrupulous to take advantage of any financial appraisal a librarian or archivist would make. It's best to leave those transactions to book dealers.

Inevitably, books must be discarded. They get damaged, they are no longer in demand, they no longer fit the patrons' needs, there are other books out there that are more important, and there is always a limitation on shelf space.

For those who are interested in the humorous side of weeding a library collection, I recommend the Awful Library Books blog. I have been following this site for a few weeks now. It is consistently entertaining, but also helps review why weeding is important and provides a forum for other professionals to discuss the nuances of the de-accessioning craft.


June 11, 2009

The Congregational Library has a sizable collection of materials from the Christian Church. Although the Christian denomination only published national statistics sporadically until the late 19th century, the information contained in them provides lists of churches, and annual reports from regional conferences.

Information that would have been in a 1901 Annual was published in the Herald of Gospel Liberty vol.92, no.21 (Dec. 20, 1900), pp.809-824 as "The Christians' Annual, 1901".

When the General Convention of the Christian Church and the National Association of Congregational Churches merged in 1929, their respective annual publications -- the Christian Annual and the Congregational Year-Book -- also merged to form the Yearbook of the Congregational and Christian Churches.

Links to digitized copies of the Christian Annual can be found on our website under Digital Resources


June 9, 2009

We have just launched a new database of obituary information on Congregational clergy and missionaries; it’s available on our website (under "digital resources"). Patrons may search by last name to find location of thousands of obituaries in Congregational yearbooks and missionary periodicals; yearbook information began in earnest in the mid-1850s and continues on up through the present. Many of the early yearbooks have been digitized and are currently available on Internet Archive.

The Congregational Library also has a large collection of church records and other sources of information about colonial-era clergy. We would be very happy to provide more information about the collection if you wish.

Contact us at info@14beacon.org.


June 9, 2009

Although the Congregational Library does not collect fiction, here are two books recently recommended by friends who know of my interest in the Salem witch trials. If you've read Eve Laplante's book The Salem Witch Judge: the Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewell, these books are lighter and good vacation reading.

Both authors are descendants of families of accused Salem witches. Kathleen Kent has written The Heretic's Daughter and is a descendant of Martha Currier who was hanged in Salem in 1692. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is by Katherine Howe whose family included both Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe.

Let us know what you think.

Kent Khowe


June 9, 2009

We regret that we are canceling the Church Librarians Lunch on June 13 at the West Parish in Barnstable. We will reschedule at a later date.


June 1, 2009

On June 13, Librarian Claudette Newhall hosts a meeting and luncheon for church librarians. Enjoy lunch and a great opportunity to network and share experiences with your colleagues.

This event will be held at West Parish of Barnstable (built in 1717) and located at 2049 Meetinghouse Road (Route 149) Exit 5 off the Mid-Cape (Route 6), West Barnstable, MA 02668 phone 508.362.4445 http://www.westparish.org

Our local host is Shirley Stolte, West Parish church librarian. Please meet at the church at 10:30 am. for a discussion of church library issues. Lunch will follow at a local restaurant. The program is free except the cost of your lunch.

Advance registration is required. Deadline is June 10, 2009.

Call 617-523-0470 or email sthomas@14beacon.org.


May 29, 2009

Beginning May 28, and every other Thursday until September

Explore our historic library with Claudette Newhall as she tells the story of the library and provides visitors with an in-depth tour of the main Reading Room, the Pratt Room, as well as the 'stacks'. During the tour, you will also learn about the building's history, our collections, and the services the Library provides.

Begins at 1:30 p.m. No charge. Reservations requested. 617-523-0470 x 1.

 


May 27, 2009

I've been teaching a class to help churches deal with keeping and organizing their church records for several years now, but foolishly never came up with templates for a records management policy or a retention schedule. However, thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to find some very lovely documents from the Church of Christ and the United Methodists. Both gentleman I spoke to at the respective agencies were very happy to share their work with me. This is good because it really is all the same thing at a certain level and I hate having to reinvent the wheel. So, again: thank you!

Visit our Records Management Page to see our original Records Management pamphlet and the spiffy new templates.


May 26, 2009

News Item: The follow up lunch for those who've taken the records management class is canceled for this Friday, 5/29 at the Salem Tabernacle Church.

Related ponderings on the cancellation: I started offering this event last year and had a lovely response for the first lunch, and since then folks just aren't signing up. There are a number of possibilities that I can think of for why this is:

  • offered at the wrong time of the week and/or folks too busy
  • financial
  • unclear as to who should attend or why
  • potential participants feel like they need to have made a specific amount of progress on their archive projects
  • publicity not getting to target audience

When it's written out like that, it does seem like a minor miracle that I had anyone attend the first. If you would like to comment on this, please email me directly.

--Jessica Steytler


May 21, 2009

I'm sure you're all very curious to know how the poll is going since we posted that almost a week ago. It turns out that 60% use Facebook, 40% use RSS, and only 20% go directly.

If you haven't filled out the poll yet, please do so -- we'll check it a few more times in the next week and if the results are radically different later, we'll let you know.

Pages