Two valuable works of art were thought to have disappeared from the print collection at Boston Public Library’s (BPL) flagship Copley Square central branch. The pieces—a Rembrandt etching, “Self Portrait with Plumed Cap and Lowered Sabre,” and a 1504 Albrecht Dürer engraving, titled “Adam and Eve”—were reported missing by then-BPL president Amy Ryan on April 15, triggering a police investigation and prompting BPL officials to take stock of internal security and collection management practices. Ryan resigned on June 3, in the wake of the resulting controversy. The following day, the missing items were located, misfiled within the print stacks. Jeffrey Rudman, chairman of the BPL board of trustees, resigned June 11. Both Ryan’s and Rudman’s resignations will be effective July 3.
In late June, a minor brouhaha erupted when the library at the University of Arkansas suspended reporters from the Washington Free Beacon, an online newspaper, from using its special collections. The reason given by library administrators was that on multiple occasions the newspaper’s reporters had published content from those collections without asking permission, as library policy requires. Much has been made in the right-wing press about the politics supposedly surrounding this conflict. I want to focus on a different issue: the practice of making patrons request library permission before republishing content drawn from documents in our special collections.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 2:00-3:00 PM ET Special collections are the jewels of their institutions, yet they also present unique challenges. This program will explore three topics of prime concern to special collections managers and library administrators: enhancing services to researchers, improving collections security, and supporting assessment activities and data-driven management decisions. The archive is no longer available.