Official websites use

A website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Boston Public Library Serves Historical and Cultural Institutions Across Massachusetts

Under the designation as Library for the Commonwealth, Boston Public Library serves all residents of Massachusetts and offers free resources to public libraries and other historical, cultural, and educational institutions across the state.

Since 2011, the library has worked to digitize and preserve collections from 145 organizations in nearly 100 towns across Massachusetts. These digitized items will be shared online via, which is a BPL-built and maintained repository and portal where statewide collections will reside for future generations to discover.

“Massachusetts is a state with a deep and rich history. Our goal with this service is to broadly share Boston’s diverse collections alongside the treasures of other organizations throughout the Commonwealth,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of Boston Public Library.    

This summer, Boston Public Library offered trainings about the digitization process to public libraries within Massachusetts. In conjunction with Digital Public Library of America, the BPL hosted workshops designed to assist public librarians in identifying their local history and genealogical collections for digitization and eventual exhibition. Librarians learned how to prepare their items for digitization and inclusion in the Digital Public Library of America, which draws content from Digital Commonwealth. Online exhibitions are planned for 2015 that will showcase the digitized content.

Current digitization work for other libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies includes items from Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, and the Natick Soldiers Research, Development & Engineering Center. Initially supported by a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant awarded through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, statewide digitization efforts are now supported through state funding in conjunction with the BPL’s role as Library for the Commonwealth.

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. Collections in Digital Commonwealth include thousands of images, documents, and sound recordings from member institutions which are now openly accessible to researchers, students, and the intellectually curious.


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

  • Last updated:
  • Last updated:
Back to top