- For Members
Digital Programs and Preservation
The Department of Digital Programs and Preservation is responsible for ensuring the physical preservation of the Athenæum’s historic collection and expanding scholarly access to the collection through digitization.
"Roll to Codex to Kindle: Books and Libraries in the Age of Digitization"
Online lecture by James Reid-Cunningham, Deputy Director
The future of books and libraries seems increasingly uncertain. During the last fifteen years, the digitization of cultural materials has become a central focus of research libraries such as the Athenæum, and the popularity of e-readers and digital texts has caused a media frenzy of speculation about the imminent death of the printed page. This historical survey of the nature of the book over two millennia explores whether digital technologies will lead to the demise of the paper book, and how research libraries might address such challenges in the years ahead.
The Athenæum has begun a multi-year project to catalog, conserve and digitize rare books, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, serials, and important historical documents printed in the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
This project is made possible through generous gifts from Caleb Loring, Jr.
The online collections of the Boston Athenæum consist of digital surrogates of rare books, archival documents, photographs, maps, and works of art on paper. These library holdings have been described and organized by the Athenæum to make them more widely accessible to researchers, students, Athenæum members, and scholars.
The Athenæum is in the process of digitizing a wide range of library materials, and will be augmenting existing collections and adding new collections frequently.
The Conservation Laboratory is dedicated to the care and repair of Athenæum holdings with inherent historic, artistic or literary value. The laboratory was founded in 1963, making it one of the oldest conservation facilities in any library in the United States. During almost five decades, we have developed the capacity to address the complex technical challenges of preserving paper-based materials.
Athenæum conservators perform conservation treatments on rare books, maps, manuscripts, prints, architectural drawings, broadsides, and pamphlets dating back to the 16th century.
Conservation staff members survey collections for treatment, consult on storage and environmental issues, assist in mounting exhibitions, and coordinate conservation treatment for items required by researchers, for exhibition, or for loan to other institutions.