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Reference response time

Our response time for reference questions varies. Checking a simple fact usually means a fast answer; checking more obscure or unique information may take weeks or months. If we cannot answer promptly, we will notify you that you are in our queue.

The Boston Public Library's primary responsibility is to the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Reference requests received from residents of Boston and Massachusetts are placed ahead of non-Massachusetts patrons in the queue waiting for answers.

We wish to assist you with your information needs. However, if you live outside Massachusetts, we ask you to obtain information from your local libraries and resources whenever possible.

Examples of well-constructed questions:

Examples of questions that need more work:

Please be specific and detailed in your request. Questions that begin with "I need some information about..." are probably too broad and too vague for a good answer.