Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A National and International Treasure: The BPL Digital Collections

1482 Map from the 4th Edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia
Readers of this blog, teachers and librarians alike, may be delighted to learn about what has been happening at the Boston Public Library over the past six years. Now you might wonder what the Boston Public Library has to do with you and your students if you live in other parts of the country. Or, you might think, great, another colonial archival available. Yes, there are the transcripts of the Salem Witch Trials, and a map owned by Benjamin Franklin. However, the collection of rare materials, such as documents, maps, photographs, books, Shakespeare folios, etc. is truly international in scope. I learned about this collection from a story in the Boston Globe last week.  

As I understand it, the new database created by the library with funds from the state of Massachusetts will soon be made available to the public, and I will be sure to post about that resource when it becomes available. Until then, items have been made available through other open-source sites as they have been digitized. Photographs are available through a Flickr account. Digitized historic children's books from the Jordan Collection of the Boston Public Library have been housed at the International Children's Digital Library. Other collections have been made available on the Internet Archive. Some, like The Normal B. Leventhal Map Center, is up and running. 

As an FYI, if you don't know of the International Children's Digital Library, it is an amazing resource out of the University of Maryland. Children's books from around in the world are available in digitized format. It's a wonderful resource for your work with English Language Learners who are literate in their home language -- to continue to give them access to books written in their first language, written by members of their culture. 

We want students to engage in authentic nonfiction texts of all kind and genres. There are so many wonderful text sets that can build using children's and young adult nonfiction and these digital resources. I'm giddy with anticipation, and more than slightly overwhelmed by the treasure-trove of teaching resources such a public collection presents. 

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