Why The Boston Public Library is Underrated

It’s true, sometimes we tend to over-romanticize college and forget about our academic obligations. But suddenly, it is midterm season, and it is time to “lock in” on your five-page essay or naively try to cram-study your professor’s biology slides the day before an exam. Which now puts us here, regretting choosing our “mental health” over attending our 8 a.m. class.  

The Healey Library respects your endeavors and struggles as a student. We want the best for your scholarly intentions and goals at UMass Boston. Often, a loud dormitory or your pestering parents’ house is not the best setting to conquer your coursework. Sometimes, we crave the quiet and gratifying environment of a library to motivate our productivity. That, along with an iced coffee, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, chill-music, aaand we’re back to romanticizing.  

However, the Boston Public Library has more than an attractive environment. It is filled with bountiful resources, benefits, events, and opportunities to help you be more confident in a classroom. Here are a few things I appreciate about the BPL.

NOTE! Its important to note that the eCard is available to only those who live, reside part-time to attend school, own property, or work in Massachusetts.

For physical cards, you would need to apply at the circulation desk in any BPL location. You also need to come with picture ID and proof of Massachusetts residency. For more information visit https://www.bpl.org/get-a-library-card

1) Long-term Free Loan of Chromebook Laptops

The library provides free Wi-Fi access for all and runs a short-term and long-term laptop loaning service! Going to college without a personal computer can be impossible. However, thanks to the Emergency Connectivity Fund, the library allows for the personal and academic use of a Chromebook and home Internet via home Wi-Fi routers.  

Additionally, the BPL also provides free computer and technology classes to make the setup process a bit easier! 

Click the link to see eligibility FAQs and other useful information: https://www.bpl.org/long-term-lending/

2) Free English Fluency ESOL Courses

If English is not your first language, take advantage of the free English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs for adult learners! The program offers online, and in-person facilitated classes. 

There are multiple course levels and styles including Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, small group tutoring, and volunteer-led Conversation Groups. 

For more information about upcoming events and registration go to https://www.bpl.org/esol/ 

3) Get Test Prep and Homework Help Digitally 

Need help studying? Through the LearningExpress Library, you can have FREE access to thousands of test preparation materials and practice exams! These resources include college courses and career certification tests. 

Go to https://www.bpl.org/learning-tools/test-prep/ for more information! 

4) Adaptive Computer Station Software and Accessories for Disability Awareness 

The BPL cares about inclusivity and is aware of the obstacles that may come across individuals with certain disabilities. That’s why several of their program rooms are equipped with adaptive computer accessories and software! The list of tools includes; Windows Ease of Access capabilities, Duxbury Braille, Translator Braille Printer Juliet, and Kurzweil 3000. 

Go to https://www.bpl.org/accessibility-at-the-boston-public-library/ for more information about the adaptive computer station. 

5) App To E-Download Any Book on a Digital Device 

Got a job? Busy running errands? Or simply, no available commute? No problem! Recently, the BPL launched their new To-Go mobile app that allows access to their collection without stepping foot into the library. Like the “To Go Program,” which allows patrons to place holds, pick up, and return items such as books, CDs, and DVDs, the app makes ordering items for pick-up even easier! 

The app is currently available to download on the App Store, and Google Play. Go check it out! Go to, https://www.bpl.org/news/bpl-launches-new-bpl-to-go-mobile-app/ for more specifications on the app’s features. 

We’re not quite done yet! You also have the ability to download available e-books and audio-books for leisure reading using Libby! This is another app the BPL offers and allows its patrons a quick and easier way to virtually read from the library! Convenience is the key to a students heart after all! Check it out now on the App Store and Google Play.

For more information on Libby, visit https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby

6) Personal Book Shopper 

This is more of a fun benefit of having a BPL card. But, it deserves to be on this list! If you are in the mood to read but not sure what books to choose from, the library will do it for you! All you need to do is fill out a short form regarding your reading preferences and habits. Librarians will have 3-5 books ready just for you. The more you tell, the better the recommendations, so don’t be shy! 

Check out, https://www.bpl.org/shelf-service/ to get started! 

7) Free Museum Passes

Whether the resources you are looking for are available elsewhere, or, maybe you just want to immerse yourself in art or science, either way, the BPL hears you. So, that’s why they provide FREE or discounted access to a variety of museums! With an active physical library card, you can reserve 1 pass per museum per thirty-day period (Note you can not reserve a pass with an eCard, you need a physical card). The list of participating museums includes the Boston Children’s Museum, Harvard Museums of Science & Cultures, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, and the USS Constitution Museum.

Sound like fun? For further information and eligibility requirements go to www.bpl.org/museum-passes

8) Housing, Health, & Hunger Help

Aside from supporting individuals with scholarly advancements, the BPL also cares about the financial and physical well-being of its patrons. Homelessness is often a misunderstood phenomenon that does get the recognition and compassion it deserves. That’s why the BPL provides online guides containing information useful for families and individuals who are housing and food insecure. Not only does the guide act as an educational resource but the entire Housing, Health & Hunger Help page provides outside resources and opportunities to access such as “Area Shelters”, “Housing Assistance”, “Food and Free Meal Kits”, “Healthcare”, and more!

If this interests you, check out https://guides.bpl.org/guide4help/home for more information.

Hopefully, you made it to the end of this list and appreciate the Boston Public Library a bit more! The Healey Library is letting all of you know that any resident, student, or worker in Massachusetts is eligible for a BPL library card and BPL eCard. So don’t hesitate and fill out the forms now, see you at the library!

Healey Library Gets 2 New Librarians!

Healey Library is thrilled to announce that 2 wonderful librarians will be joining our staff. 

J Troy is joining us on August 21st as our new Liaison Librarian, in our Reference, Outreach, & Instruction unit. J comes to us with over 10 years of experience as a Teacher/Librarian at Milton High School, where he taught information literacy classes to students, so that they learned to search, evaluate, synthesize, and share information effectively and appropriately. He collaborated with other teachers and staff to provide resources and create new curricula, and handled collection development for the library.  He also advised students in various clubs and activities, and hired, trained, and supervised the Student Technology Assistance Team. J holds a Certificate in Public Policy from U Mass Dartmouth (2020), an MS in Library & Information Science from Drexel University (2012), and a BA in Religious Studies from Stonehill College (2007). With J joining us, we are planning to revive our liaison librarian program and to include more librarians in collection development activities. 

Christine Moynihan is joining us on September 11th as our new Scholarly Communications, Data, & Affordable Learning Librarian.  She is currently the Open Educational Resources and Technology Librarian at Salem State University, and previously, she worked as a Project Coordinator in Instructional Design at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts T.H. Chan Medical School. She also has prior experience as a grant-funded OER Coordinator at Salem State University, and in administrative and technology roles at Boston University, Labouré College, and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. She has also undertaken private consulting roles in archival digitization and historical research. Christine holds a Master of Library & Information Science from the University of Alabama (2018) and 2 degrees from U Mass Boston (hooray!) – a MA in History & Archives (2013) and a BA in English (1999). Christine will be helping us to grow our work in Open Educational Resources, support for Open Access publishing, Research Data Management, ScholarWorks management, and more. 

We’re very excited, and hope you will join us in welcoming J and Christine to Healey Library! 

Healey Library Updates – Fall 2022

Please read on for updates on Library services for the Fall semester!

Permanent Dean of University Libraries

Dean Stephanie Walker headshotOn August 22, 2022, Dean Stephanie Walker joined the Healey Library and UMass Boston. Stephanie comes to us most recently from the University of North Dakota Libraries, where she led a multi-library system and also oversaw the University’s Art Collections. While at UND, she led the gut-renovation of the state’s largest research library (Chester Fritz Library), started and led an Open Educational Resources (OER) program that saved UND students $11 million over 6 years, led the creation of an Open Access publishing program, oversaw the creation of one of the largest and fastest-growing institutional repositories on the Digital Commons platform, and more. Prior to her time at UND, Stephanie was the Chief Librarian & Executive Director of Academic Information Technologies at the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College. She previously also served as the Manager of Collections, Technical Services, & Library IT at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library, as Dean & University Librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and as the head of two libraries at the University of Toronto. Stephanie is delighted to join UMass Boston, and looks forward to working with everyone here! Email her any time at stephanie.walker@umb.edu – she’d love to hear from you! 

Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Open Access (OA)

Last year, a number of UMass Boston faculty applied for small grants related to Open Textbooks and other Open Educational Resources. As part of this program, they could a) adopt existing OERs, b) adapt one or more existing OERs for use in their courses, or c) create OERs themselves. This year, we have begun early discussions on expanding our programs by offering some of these options again. We also hope to expand our marketing and promotion of OERs, with upcoming speakers and events. We are still very early in this process, but wanted to let you know that there is much more to come! Dean Stephanie Walker had previously represented her former institution in the National Academy of Sciences’ HELIOS project (Higher Education Leadership In Open Source), which is a multi-institutional program to grow and enhance uptake and usage of OERs in Higher Education. With the support of Provost Joseph Berger, Dean Walker is now representing UMass Boston on this initiative – stay tuned!  

Curbside Pickup Available Monday – Saturday

Curbside pickup for physical Healey Library and interlibrary loan (ILL) materials is available BY APPOINTMENT, Monday – Saturday in the ISC turn-around. To request a book or DVD from Healey Library’s collection for curbside pickup, please sign into UMBrella directly, search for a title, open the item’s record, and click ‘REQUEST OPTIONS: Place Hold for Pickup’ link. When an item is ready for pickup, patrons will receive an email including the details for booking curbside appointments. 

This same request function can be used to pick up items directly from the 2nd floor Circulation Desk as well.

Library Requests Form – Including Reserves Requests!

Use the Healey Library Requests Form to request items for purchase, course reserves, or digitization. Using this form allows library staff to route requests to the appropriate departments and make sure nothing falls through the cracks! 

Library Website Update – Coming Soon!

In addition to the campus-wide website update, Healey Library is in the process of making significant updates to its website based on the user feedback and data we have collected from the community in the past fall and spring. Thank you to all of you who have participated in the library’s website assessment efforts, and stay tuned to see how your feedback will be incorporated into the new Healey Library website!

Mass. Memories Road Show and RoPA

The trailblazing Mass. Memories Road Show (MMRS) program that so many of us know and love has been on a path of growth and expansion over the last few years. Supported in part by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston launched the Roadmap for Participatory Archiving (RoPA). This project makes the MMRS model accessible to libraries and cultural institutions across the globe who are interested in collecting, documenting, and preserving their communities’ history, traditions, and collective memories. Browse the more than 12,000 Massachusetts memories that have already been collected and preserved through MMRS events, and check out RoPA for guidance on initiating similar efforts within your own communities!

There is a great deal happening at Healey Library, and we are thrilled to be fully back on campus and open to all. We also expect to have more news in multiple areas shortly – stay tuned! And we would welcome any suggestions and feedback – like all campus units, Healey Library will be undergoing a strategic planning process over the next several months, and we will be seeking your input! Thank you all for your time and attention – and drop by and visit us anytime!

Update on the Library Website Project

In Fall 2021, Healey Library launched a usability study with the goal of improving the user experience of the library’s website. The users’ feedback and survey data will be used to inform the planning and development of the campus website redesign project and help align the library website’s complexity and unique function with the overall campus redesign project. 

Fall/Winter 2021 Activities

  • Reviewed the project scope of the library website usability study 
  • Learned about current usability and accessibility standards
  • Examined other academic library websites to understand the trends and common practices 
  • Evaluated the functionalities and contents of our own library website
  • Analyzed our patron usage data
  • Launched a campus-wide survey and received 150 responses
  • Conducted 12 key-informant interviews of patron-facing library staff members to gather user feedback to identify potential barriers for improvement 

After careful review and analysis of these data, we concluded that it was imperative to take the immediate steps to conduct an in-depth content review, initiate re-organization of the web content, and re-build the navigation menu in order to improve efficiency in helping users search information. 

Spring/Summer 2022 Activities

  • Reviewed and updated relevant web content 
  • Drafted a new web architecture with a new navigation menu
  • Created an online card-sorting task and invited the entire UMB community to submit their preferences for the re-construction of the navigation menu. We received hundreds of submissions reflecting a total of 453 participants from undergraduate/graduate students, faculty, staff, and other UMB affiliated members

The review and analysis of the card sorting data are currently underway. Healey Library wants to thank everyone who has participated in the usability testing and helped us improve our library services.

Currently, we are working on updating the web pages within a testing environment and designing the new navigation menu in preparation to begin the transition to the new website in late Spring/Summer 2023. We are working with the Division of Marketing & Engagement on the migration plan and timeline for launching the library’s new website. We will provide further updates as we finalize the rollout plan of the new library website. Stay tuned!

Healey Library Updates – Fall 2021

We are pleased to share with you the following exciting updates related to Healey Library’s staffing and services. Please let us know how we can support you as we wrap up this momentous semester.  

Staffing Changes

Please join us in welcoming the following new staff members to Healey Library as we move forward with the process of expanding our team both by filling vacancies and hiring several newly-approved positions.  

Acquisitions and Access Coordinator

In August 2021, Francis Alix, a proud UMass Boston alum, joined us as our new Acquisitions and Access Coordinator. Francis will be the primary contact for Library reserves, so send an email to Library.Reserves@umb.edu and Francis will most likely be the person responding to you. Welcome, Francis!

Assistant Dean for Administration and Finance

In September 2021 we bid a reluctant farewell to Paula Ayers, who is enjoying a well-deserved retirement after many years of invaluable service to UMass Boston in both Healey Library and the Division of Athletics and Recreation. Our new Assistant Dean is Samantha Regan, who comes to Healey Library from the UMass Boston English Department. Welcome, Samantha! 

Library Desks Service Manager

In November 2021, Ann Marie Shafer joined the Library team to fill our long-vacant Library Desks Service Manager position. Do say hello as you pass the Circulation Desk!  Welcome, Ann Marie!

Additional Hires

While the campus was in remote operations, the following new staff began work from a distance and now have joined us on campus:

  • Christine Elliott, Reference and Instruction Librarian
  • Eunkyung “E.K.” Lee, Discovery and Systems Development Librarian
  • Heidi Moesinger, Assistant Business Manager
  • Lauren Movlai, Reference and Instruction Librarian
  • Steve Smith, Collection Analysis and Development Librarian

Curbside Pick-Up and Drop-Off

Image of Healey Library student worker standing next to the new outdoor book drop and the wind sign directing curbside patrons to text their last name to (857) 524-3953 when arriving to pick up itemsImage of Healey Library student worker placing curbside pickup items into the trunk of a patron's car

Fall 2021 Curbside Hours 

By popular demand, this semester we added evening hours into our curbside pickup offerings. Curbside pickup (in the ISC circle) is now available:

  • Thursdays 5:30-8:30pm
  • Fridays 10:00am-1:30pm
  • Saturdays 10:00am-1:30pm
  • (Please note that curbside pickup will not be available during any times that the campus is closed or operating remotely.) 

Look for the bright blue wind sign that will direct you to text your last name to (857) 524-3953 when you arrive, and a library staff member will bring your item(s) out to your car.

Outdoor Book Drop Available 24/7

Picture of Healey Library's outdoor bookdrop featuring two slots for returning books and mediaPicture of Healey Library's new outdoor book drop outside the ISC, located next to the bike rackAlso new this Fall: a new outdoor book drop available at our curbside location! Returns (of Healey Library/interlibrary loan materials only, please) may be dropped off at any time that’s convenient for you. Please note that these returns will be processed the next day that staff are working on campus, based on the campus schedule for holidays and remote operations. NOTE: Please do NOT return Chromebooks via the drop box; these should continue to be returned in person to the Circulation Desk in Healey Library.

NEW: Healey Library Self-Checkout Machine!

Image of the Healey Library self-checkout machine featuring a book being checked out and the confirmation screen Healey Library’s new, contactless self-checkout station in the 2nd floor lobby allows you to check out books, renew loaned items, or check your account summary! It’s quick, efficient, and sends receipts directly to your UMass Boston email address. The self-checkout station’s accessibility features include text-to-speech that may be paused, a choice of 60 world languages, and the option to enlarge text and customize button placement. Stop by Healey Library with your BeaconCard and give it a try!

Check out the coverage of our ribbon-cutting for the new self-checkout machine in the Mass Media: Healey Library Celebrates Grand Opening of Self-Checkout Station

Healey Library “Zoom Zone”

Image of the large sign featuring Bobby Beacon, welcoming students to the 6th floor "Zoom Zone" in Healey LibraryOverhead image of the study carrels available on the 6th floor of Healey Library for students to use as quiet spaces to attend classes via ZoomIf your students ask you about a place to attend a class via Zoom, you can direct them to the “quiet side” of the 6th floor. Follow the signs to the left as you exit the elevators; individual carrels are available for students, and headsets are required to keep the space as peaceful as possible.


Submit Your Course Reserves and ILL Requests

Help Healey Library staff plan ahead by submitting your Spring 2022 course reserve requests, and interlibrary loan requests for items you might need over the winter break, as early as possible! Planning ahead will help Healey Library staff work around both shipping delays and any possible periods of campus remote operations.

Lean Library Browser Extension

We’re getting a lot of great feedback from people using the Lean Library browser extension. This browser extension offers a seamless way to access articles that live behind a paywall through Healey Library’s subscriptions. Check out our recent blog post: Want to Make Finding Full Text Articles Easier? Download the Lean Library Browser Extension

Healey Library Requests Form

Thank you for your support and flexibility as we transitioned to a unified system for submitting library requests! Please continue to use this form for library purchase suggestions, course reserve requests, requests for digitization of library/archival materials, and other library-related requests that might pop up. Using this unified requests form allows Healey Library staff to keep track of all requests, route them to the correct departments, monitor their progress, and maintain business continuity in library operations.  

New Library Reserves Pilot for Spring 2022

For Spring 2022, Healey Library will be introducing a new Reserves lending program that serves students both on and off campus called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). The goals are to better serve remote students who need access to course reserves material while also maintaining compliance with copyright law. 

Under this new program, at the request of faculty members, Healey Library may digitize a book that we physically own (and is not available as an e-book) and lend out a secured digital version to one user at a time. If you choose to use this pilot program, the physical copy of the Reserves item will be unavailable for checkout. These electronic check-outs cannot be downloaded or printed, and are available for up to 3 hours per lending period. 

You can preview pilot CDL texts here: https://digitalreserves.umb.edu/ 

If you are working with the Ross Center for Disability Services and need an accessible version of a secure electronic reserves item, please have the Ross Center contact us at library.cdl@umb.edu. 

We Want Your Feedback!

Scan the code below, or go to: https://forms.gle/pnDnwUVeiTGtqdZt5 to submit any feedback, comments, and suggestions for Healey Library!

QR Code linking to Healey Library Feedback Form: https://forms.gle/pnDnwUVeiTGtqdZt5

Ask Us for Help!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your needs. The fabulous Healey Library staff is always ready, willing, and able to help!

Updates from UMass Boston's Healey Library

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