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An Unparalleled Opportunity: Creating an inventory of the Print Collection at the Boston Public Library

Abstract—In the spring of 2015, the author was asked to organize and direct a comprehensive inventory of the large and distinguished collection of prints at the Boston Public Library. Work- ing with the staff of the BPL and a corps of graduate students, the team located, described, and prepared for digitization a diverse collection of prints, posters, chromolithographs, drawings, and ephemera, once regarded as among the best collections in the United States. The collection was under-staffed, neglected, and adrift in a great public library that struggled to balance its commitment to public service with its status as a major national research library. This article describes the project and the next steps for the collection.