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Boston Public Library and Digital Commonwealth Renew Partnership to Digitize State Cultural Treasures

November 19, 2015

Boston Public Library

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Boston Public Library announced its renewed partnership commitment with Digital Commonwealth to maintain and expand Digital Commonwealth.

Boston Public Library announced its renewed partnership commitment with Digital Commonwealth to maintain and expand Digital Commonwealth, which provides access to digital resources of cultural heritage organizations throughout Massachusetts. Collections in Digital Commonwealth include thousands of images, documents, and sound recordings from member institutions which are openly accessible to researchers, students, and the intellectually curious. Boston Public Library’s development of the Digital Commonwealth repository system provides a means of managing and preserving digital collections to ensure they will be accessible to future generations.

“As part of our statewide responsibilities, we are happy to enter the next phase of our relationship with Digital Commonwealth, partnering to ensure Massachusetts’ shared history and culture are not only preserved but made accessible and discoverable by all,” said Boston Public Library President Interim President David Leonard. 

"Our mission is to bring together the collections of libraries, archives and cultural institutions across the state, and make them accessible to all,” said Elizabeth Thomsen, President of Digital Commonwealth. Our partnership with the Boston Public Library has been essential to the development and support of the Digital Commonwealth and we look forward to continuing to work together."

Since 2010, the BPL has worked to digitize and preserve collections from 250 cultural institutions in 150 municipalities across Massachusetts, totaling 218,000 items. The BPL’s digital team recently visited Harvard Forest Archives, Northern Essex Community College, Reading Public Library, and the Chelmsford Town Clerk’s Office to prepare items for digitization. Materials recently added to Digital Commonwealth include botanical prints from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library, photograph collections from Pine Manor College and the Massachusetts Archives, and glass slides from the Hatfield Historical Museum.

In addition to its role as a partner to Digital Commonwealth, Boston Public Library serves as Library for the Commonwealth for the entire state of Massachusetts. Anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Massachusetts can have a Boston Public Library card.

Image: “Cereus,” Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library. Image digitized at Boston Public Library.


Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit