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Boston Public Library unveils 'collections of distinction'

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  June 27, 2013 03:08 PM

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The Boston Public Library has unveiled some of its most outstanding, expansive, and renowned holdings as part of its initial Collections of Distinction.

The collections highlight holdings from the library’s more than 22 million items and include an array of books, maps, manuscripts, letters, drawings, and other original works dating back as early as the 10th century.

The 18 collections include topics such as Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts, Maritime Charts and Atlases, and American Civil War 20th Massachusetts Regiment materials. There are also holdings related to Shakespeare, John Adams, and William A. Dwiggins.

“It is our great privilege to house, preserve, and share these unique collections that are at the heart of what makes Boston Public Library a dynamic research institution,” Amy E. Ryan, the library’s president, said in a statement. “Libraries are centers of knowledge, ideas, and opportunity. We encourage and invite the residents of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to engage with these treasures and celebrate the cultural heritage they contain.”

The Boston Public Library, which is one of the five largest research libraries in the United States, identified its Collections of Distinction based on collections’ uniqueness, rarity, and intrinsic value; historical significance; and its relation to the history of Boston, Massachusetts, and their communities among other criteria.

The criteria was established by the library’s subject experts and its Special Collections Committee.

The new Collections of Distinction are given priority in terms of access, acquisition, digitization, and preservation. The library plans to continue to identify additional candidates for Collections of Distinction status.

“Bringing these collections together and to light is a tremendous step forward not only for our organization, but for the communities of learners that Boston Public Library serves,” Jeffrey B. Rudman, chairman of the library’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “These are deep and rich intellectual resources. It is our duty to make them accessible and available to all. We are grateful to the curators, keepers, and digitizers of these collections who work so carefully to maintain the collections’ historical integrity for future generations and identify new ways to share them with the world.”

A list of all 18 Collections of Distinctions is available online.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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