MBLC Supports Libraries with Community Memory Collections


January 29, 2021
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has awarded $33,600 to eight libraries across the Commonwealth for formal assessments of their community memory collections under the Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) which is funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“Historical collections at local libraries can provide their communities unique perspectives on contemporary issues” said Evan Knight, Preservation Specialist at the MBLC. “Like many libraries in the Commonwealth, these grant recipients protect and share irreplaceable local records, in mixed formats of books, photographs, archives, digital files, and even memorabilia. Collectively, these records document our immediate and distant pasts, which are especially important as many communities take more time to reflect on their shared values.”

The Preservation Assessment Grant program awards $4,200 to libraries of all types that successfully complete the eligibility requirements. The complete list of FY21 Preservation Assessment grant recipients is below, followed by a few highlights of this year’s grant round.

FY2021 Preservation Assessment Grants

Institution Name

Dedham Public Library

Longmeadow - Richard Salter Storrs Library

Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives

Tyringham Free Public Library

West Falmouth Library

Wilbraham Public Library

Dedham Public Library

Olin College of Engineering Library

Community collections at West Falmouth Library illustrate the town’s long and evolving history. Documents in the collection include deeds, wills, journals, notebooks, land transfers, and business records dating from 1670 to 1970. Photographs date from the 1800s to 1980s. Smaller collections of distinction include oral histories (VHS, CD, and digital formats), local biographies, negatives, rare books,  a 19th century whaling logbook, and a few pieces of fine and decorative arts.  Archives Librarian Renee Voorhees and Library Director Jessica O’Connor note that West Falmouth’s diverse groups of people with shared histories are vital connections to a past that continues to resonate in the present. 

Tyringham Free Public Library will identify the immediate preservation needs of their historic collections and to develop a list of preservation priorities that will align with their internal and town-wide strategic plans. The library preserves and shares a large collection of photographs, from daguerreotypes and ambrotypes from the mid-1800s to recent prints and slides depicting the town’s 250th anniversary celebration in 1989. The library also has hundreds of oral history interviews on cassette tapes. The  textile collection includes an 1829 sampler by a 13-year old youth, a nightgown from 1870, and a beloved quilt handmade by local women toward the end of the 1990s.

The Dedham Public Library has preserved extensive records from its earliest days of European colonization, dating back almost 400 years. The collections, which include maps, deeds, manuscripts, printed works, photographs, and more, have been used and cited in academic and popular literature for many years, demonstrating their importance to scholars of North American history as well as local residents. The library will use the grant to identify archival collections at potential risk of immediate damage, identify further ways to mitigate collection risks, and to support increased outreach with the collections to engage all members of the diverse community.

In addition to the direct library grant program, the MBLC uses LSTA funds to support statewide programs and services including summer reading programs, research databases, the statewide eBook program, the Commonwealth Catalog and which has information and resources for residents.  LSTA is administered on the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in the Commonwealth by the MBLC. More information about LSTA can be found on the Board's website at

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’ grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.