Location, Location, Location
Posted by Dan Cohen in January 8, 2014.
Although we’re a digital project, we obviously consist of human beings with a distinctly non-virtual existence, and we are very lucky to have a daily presence in the first municipal public library in America, the Boston Public Library. BPL has 25 branches across the city, millions of volumes, hundreds of thousands of maps and other artifacts, and some rather nifty architecture. We’re in the Central Library, in Copley Square, Boston, right across from the beautiful Trinity Church. It’s well known for the famous saying over the front door: “Free to all.” It’s nice to be able to walk into work every day with the BPL’s mission overhead, and in mind.
Our office—an open space with a half-dozen desks and other furniture from BPL’s past in the 1930s and 1970s—is on the third floor of the Johnson Wing of the Central Library. We’re lucky to share a floor with others working in the same spirit as we are. BPL’s digital projects group is right next door, which is also responsible for Digital Commonwealth, the digital library that is our Massachusetts hub, aggregating and digitizing content from collections across the Bay State. In addition, one of the Internet Archive’s scanning centers is located just outside our office. At numerous stations, IA’s staff continues to digitize books and other documents at an astonishing pace.
Just as inspirational are those working with physical books, cataloguers and interlibrary loan staffers who work every day to make sure that people across Boston get access to knowledge. I particularly enjoy passing by the new books and magazines section on the way to the DPLA office, which at a glance provides a sense of what people are interested in right now. You can feel the flow—multiple distribution systems at work—on our floor. It’s quiet but bustling.
And it’s all a reminder that we exist in an ecosystem of people, institutions, content, and spaces both real and virtual. If you’re in Boston and want to stop by and say hello, you now know where to find us.
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