The Portal to Jesuit Studies

Libraries partner with Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies to expand access to research materials.

In May, the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies released The Portal to Jesuit Studies, a new research resource that provides “free online access to the some of the richest content associated with the history, spirituality, educational heritage, and pedagogical approach of the Society of Jesus.”  The Libraries were very pleased to have provided collaborative assistance to the Institute in this endeavor, which drew upon both deep content knowledge and technical expertise in a way that typifies the generation of quality disciplinary research resources online.

The rich collections of Jesuit material in the BC Libraries, particularly the John J. Burns Library, were a basis for the research segment of the site, which includes searchable access to the Jesuit Online Library and the Jesuitica Directory. Digital Library programs teamed with Seth Meehan, an associate director at the Institute, to scan key volumes and image processing, enabling searchability and online access.  The Libraries started selection and imaging of Jesuitica in 2007 as part of the core, ongoing undertaking to capture distinctive BC content digitally. But with the development of the Portal, efforts focused and, in just spring of this year, over 21,533 pages of library materials were digitized, and digital access was provided to another 9,564 pages for a total of 31,097 pages across 43 volumes. In all, the Jesuit Online Library allows searching across nearly 100,000 pages in 700 volumes. Other library areas contributed expertise. Staff within the Systems office lent support, technical assistance, and advice that informed work with vendors and contributed to the ultimate website. Digital scholarship tools are being considered for future projects. As content in the site continues to grow, new materials will be made available and new technologies integrated.

a computer monitor displaying  the Jesuit website

“Libraries staff played indispensable roles in the development of the Portal,” states Meehan. “In short, without their time and expertise (and patience), the project would not have been possible. I am grateful to them and to you for the experience of working with them.”

Visit the portal at Twitter account @jesuitportal, hashtags #thePortal to #JesuitStudies.

BC Libraries: Articulating our Alignment with the Boston College Mission

That life has many challenges underscores the importance of formation, for our students and our librarians, and the entire BC Community.

That life has many challenges underscores the importance of formation, for our students and our librarians, and the entire BC Community. We see a BC education as instilling a sense of resiliency to the vicissitudes of the world, while nurturing a firm commitment to social justice and doing right. We applaud the new Core for taking complex problems and enduring questions to heart, and embrace the opportunity to facilitate the formative exploration of these challenges.

Confronting issues and assuming intellectual risk presents a challenge in itself, but doing so while at the same time reflecting on and pursuing the right path is laying out a difficult path indeed.  The adages regarding gain and pain; and risk and reward; are more relevant than ever, which is why the good libraries and universities in the world facilitate climates for creativity, collaboration, exploration, and the open and free exchange of ideas. But the great libraries and universities take it a step further by grounding their decisions in an unwavering commitment to doing good, not succumbing to trends and fads, and learning from all experiences. This remains core to the Boston College Mission and the formation of our students, and our library staff.

These values turn into action when developing our staff at the BC Libraries; intangible qualities as well as the skill sets required by the position figure in. We recruit staff who are collaborative and creative, who understand that libraries are about content, and who embrace change and Boston College’s Jesuit, Catholic Mission. We assume advancement involves risk, and risk is best managed through collaboration and creativity; in many cases, it is the difficult times that are the most formative, and “failures” are the signposts on the road to excellence. We seek to allow employees to explore different ideas and learn from all experiences, the good and the bad.  Yet we know that risk is not to be confused with recklessness, and our risks are calculated in accordance with our Mission.

Our library workforce has never been stronger and more prepared to add value to all areas of the Boston College community. We are eager to collaborate across all areas, we maintain superb collections, we are comfortable with exploring new and different approaches for research, teaching and learning, and we are risk tolerant. Sure, some ideas start as nonsense, yet we will not be judgmental but instead serve as facilitators in BC’s ecosystem of ideas.  The Libraries can be counted on to help the entire community in its quest of Ever to Excel across all horizons and to nurture all ideas, from the risky to the sublime, as part of our collective Formation.

The Boston College Libraries Mission

As intellectual and cultural centers and community spaces for Boston College, the Libraries acquire, preserve, and facilitate access to world-class collections, engage in collaborations that benefit scholarship, teaching, and learning, and support student formation and discernment in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition. We achieve this by being an agile organization, offering dynamic user spaces, providing excellent collections and services that anticipate the evolving needs of diverse academic communities, and partnering with faculty and students–from the discovery of relevant resources to the creation and dissemination of new knowledge.