“How to”: BPL Archive

This page offers a “how to” conduct research at the Boston Public Library in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Room. We have taken photographs, scanned reader slips, and offered as much information as we can about searching for and finding primary source materials.

Click here to read about our experience at the BPL in The Shakespeare Standard Online!!

Click below for step by step instructions!

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Library Cards and Registration

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Maneuvering the Rare Books Room

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Rare Books Room Etiquette

Michaela Lake_Card Catalog

Searching for Materials

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Writing a Document Analysis

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BPL Resources

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BPL Critique

 

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One response to ““How to”: BPL Archive

  1. Hi Everyone!! Personally, I thought that the Boston Public Library field trip was actually more exciting than expected. First, the Copley strand of the Boston Library is beautiful. The inside is immaculate as soon as you walk in. Taking the elevator upstairs to the Rare Books Room was even aesthetically pleasing as the architecture and style was so old. I never really appreciated it until I saw. In terms of actually working with the old texts, the most interesting thing that I learned was how to retrieve a book that you would need from the vault in the back. Professor Bennett had mentioned the vault during class time, so when I was registering with the secretary prior to entering the actual work room, I inquired more about it with her. She said that the vault was a large locked up area that certain books were kept because of the rarity or the amount of usage they have in relation with those who come to visit the BPL. Imagining how large the vault must be and how many books the Rare Room already contained exemplifies the pride the library takes in preserving original works. This is very appreciative to an outside viewer. This might sound ludacris or obvious, but after considering the number of books in the Rare Books room, in addition to the ones in the vault, AND the regular books that would be on display throughout the library, I was quickly astounded as to how many books we have access to now in the world. Even the rarest of works can be found and read if you wanted. To me, this was a new great discovery.

    One thing that I really like about the assignments given in this class are the conversations historically we can have when looking at these books. I, myself, excel far greater in English and History than I do in math, partially because of the enjoyment level to me, but also the connections English and History have with one another. When I was filling in the document analysis, I would look at the publication dates of the books that I was working with and put historical context to the date. For instance, the George Sandys’ Ovid Translation was published in 1632, a decade after the pilgrims came to America. This was definitely a time of conservation, so placing that knowledge with the acquired knowledge of the texts that we are working with in this class, it is easy to see how most people were appalled at the writing. It also showcases how innovative these authors were in incorporating “out of the norm” concepts to their writing because it was something they wanted to write about; never did they follow in the footsteps of authors who would write for the time period. Authors like Marlowe, Nashe, and Ovid wrote for new discoveries. Following the appreciation for the writing, one has to appreciate the portraits and illustrations incorporated in the books as well. Again referencing the Sandys’ translation, Deirdre and I took many photos of the intricate illustrations scattered throughout the literary work. The detail, precision, and depth of the drawings exceed any other kind of illustration in a novel that I have ever seen. It also made me wonder how long it took to print something that detailed during this time period. Overall, this trip to the Boston Public Library was eye opening and differed from any other field trip I had been on.

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