Beacon Street Diary

March 24, 2006

I received the following email from the ATLA list I'm on and I thought I'd pass this along.

I am writing you on behalf of Dr. Peter Kuzmic who is in Croatia right now preparing for the dedication of the new library and learning center at Evangelical Theological Seminary. Upon its debut, this will be the largest evangelical library serving Eastern Europe. With graduates in ministry in over 50 nations throughout the world, ETS has become a strategic center for equipping Christian leaders throughout the post-communist world.

The current library is confined to 4,500 square feet. Upon completion of the new facility, we will have expanded to 20,000 square feet. We are receiving book donations by the thousands in Croatia. As I write this, I have just received an unexpected shipment of an additional 30 boxes of theological books.

We are in desperate need of librarians to help catalog books and get the new library in working order over the summer months. We would gladly welcome any able-bodied person with library experience to assist us. We would be happy to provide any volunteers with food and housing during their stay. I ask you to prayerfully consider how you might be able to help.

Please respond to: Dr. Peter Kuzmic, 130 Essex St., S. Hamilton, MA 01982. Phone: 987-646-4085 Email:

Thank you very much for your time and consideration,

Justin J. Evans, New Europe Vision and Freeman Barton, Goddard Library

March 23, 2006

Peggy's lecture at Old South Church from March 19th is available as a podcast. There is more information about Old South and its current on-going Lenten series at their website under Looking Ahead.

March 20, 2006

In preparation for a new educational series we are putting together, the staff have put together a survey for people interested in participating.

We also created a Frappr map. We will be adding the map to our blog soon.

March 17, 2006

The Winter 2006 Bulletin was mailed out today. This issue includes articles by Joyce Hollyday, "On the Heels of Freedom", and Brenda Billips Square, "Amistad Collections Safe Following Hurricane Katrina", updates about the Library, news for CCHS, and the list of new books added to the collection. We hope you enjoy it. The Bulletin will also be made available on our website soon.

March 16, 2006

"What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a librarian."

This is my standard answer unless I want to try to explain what an archivist is.

So, what is an archivist? In my case, it's someone who has gone to library school and specialized in caring for documents that were created by individuals or organizations. At the Congregational Library, that usually means ministers, charitable groups, churches, and missionaries. I also am responsible for preserving the items in my care. We are still pretty low-tech / low-cost, so our best bet is to house the records in acid-free containers, remove rusted (or potentially rusty) metal fasteners, and maintain a stable storage environment.

I am a department of one, like many in my field, a lone arranger. I'm responsible for answering reference questions, processing new collections, creating guides for those collections, cataloging, preservation, talking to donors, educating / providing outreach for our constituents, collaborating with the rest of the library staff on projects, and other administrivia. It also happens I'm the de-facto web designer and primary IT support.

Interns - One of the perks of being a Boston repository is that I / we have the chance to host Simmons library school (GSLIS) interns. The past 12 months have been fantastic for us and I've managed 2 students every semester. Supervising a student is something I look forward to every spring and fall semesters. I enjoy mentoring new professionals. I was grateful when I was a student to have supportive internship environments and while I am here to teach them, they inevitably help clarify my work and/or catalyze doing a project I may not have thought to do on my own.

Projects: maintaining one's usefulness and sanity means coming up with projects that go beyond the average reference and processing work. My current log includes scanning our Image Collection (800+ photographs, etchings and drawings that do not have a textual collection), assisting the rest of the library staff with the next stage of weeding our collection, and supervising this semester's interns.

I haven't gotten past the Cs in the images: scanning and cataloging is tedious, but the results are fantastic. I'm in the midst of surveying the US history section to determine what books do not fit our needs and/or are so outdated, they do not serve any useful purpose. We have set up a book truck in the library with the fruits of our combined labors -- I saw a Winston Churchill biography yesterday -- and request a donation for those taken away. If anyone has any interest in the list we have, please let us know.

page from an illuminated BibleWith that, I will leave you with a snippet from an illuminated Bible that is in our collection.


- Cheers, Jess Steytler

March 15, 2006

Recently a patron sent us articles about and the obituary of Miss Clara Estelle Breed, the daughter of a Congregational minister from Iowa who as a librarian in San Diego made a difference in the lives of Japanese-American children in internment camps during World War II. A new book, Dear Miss Breed by Joanne Oppennheim, tells the story of Miss Breed and her correspondence with the children in the camps. Tetsuzo Hirasaki who was one of these children said, "She lived up to her creed. She lived the true Christian way of life." She was a remarkable librarian and unsung Christian hero.

March 14, 2006

The Congregational Library is looking for volunteers to help staff with a variety of tasks and special projects in the library. We will be posting descriptions of some of these volunteer positions on this blog and Congregational Library website. Some possible tasks and projects involve shelf reading (checking the books on the shelf to make sure they are in order and have shelf list cards) and coordinating and assembling displays and exhibits. Watch for the postings and descriptions for specific jobs then let us know if you are interested. Be a friend to the Congregational Library.

March 9, 2006

Esperanto BibleI've created a new gallery of international Bibles that mirrors a display that we created in 2005.

I have plans to write a bit about my current projects as well as a guide for churches looking to organize their historical material. Stay posted!

- The Esperanto Bible. Click on the image or visit the gallery for a more readable representation.


- Jessica, ze archivist

March 9, 2006

We are very pleased that Peggy Bendroth, Executive Director of the Library and Beth Nordbeck, Chair of the Library Committee will speak at Old South Church as part of the Lenten Series, "The Church in The World." Peggy is speaking on "Following the Congregational Way: The Pilgrims & Puritans" and "An Open Door: Old South Church in Boston". Beth's lecture is titled "A Radical Experiment in Unity: The United Church of Christ". For complete details, please visit the Old South Church website.

March 2, 2006

Peggy received an email yesterday from the University of Kentucky about our loan of the Afro-American Mission Herald to the UK's National Digital Newspaper Program project. A brief article is published in the UK Libraries' "Off the Shelf" newsletter on page 3.

We are excited that these rare issues are being preserved.