Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2009

Message from the University Librarian

The BC Libraries strategic planning process has begun to take shape, and I am very pleased that issues around digitization have surfaced and are certain to be a key theme moving forward. Digitization has become a buzz word in academia and especially in libraries. It can mean varied things to different groups and individuals, and sometimes the differing views are equally valid. We will need to explore this at Boston College, but for the purpose of getting a conversation started, I’d like to discuss a programmatic priority for the BC Libraries, namely the digitization program already underway in the Burns Library.


When I interviewed for my position several faculty spoke highly of the treasures collected and housed in the Burns Library. But an equal number expressed a need to have them more readily discoverable, usable, and intelligible for students and for teaching purposes. These concerns were expressed to the Burns staff, as well as the library staff as a whole. I am very pleased to say that we have revised our policies and operations, and are engaging faculty and students to advise us to enable greater access to and description of these unique resources.  Our initial projects include the digitization of the Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives that document life during and following the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland. We are planning a reception with Bobbie himself on November 5th this year, and are hopeful that these materials can be used in several classes and for research across multiple disciplines.


The other digitization project, just now getting traction, will make available the collected papers of William Butler Yeats. We will provide more information on this effort in the coming months. In general, though, the takeaway for faculty is that we are committed to making the Burns materials increasingly available for teaching and learning, both at the Burns Library itself as well as in digital form, as appropriate and feasible.  The Burns Library has a splendid collection, and a staff committed and eager to have these materials used by students and faculty alike. Please contact anyone in the Burns Library to access, use, and create with these special resources. To facilitate user access to the material we have expanded the hours of the Burns Library to include, for the first time ever, Saturday hours (10-2) and Wednesday evenings until 8pm.


We are at the beginning of what I expect to be an exciting and inclusive process with the digitizing and exposing of the wealth of materials in the Burns Library. Staff from all Boston College libraries are involved in these efforts, as are an increasing number of faculty and students. It would be difficult to underestimate the possibilities for us all, as well as the importance of these efforts, moving ahead. On behalf of the entire library staff, let me reiterate our service commitment to you and your students, at Burns and all Libraries. We look forward to achieving some truly wonderful things together at Burns and in all our Libraries.


Tom WallAs always, feel free to contact me with any suggestions or concerns about the libraries.


Thomas B. Wall, Ph.D.

University Librarian 

Questions, comments? Contact the BC Libraries Newsletter Review Board.