Boston Public Library

Online Registration and eCard FAQ


Boston Public LIbrary eCardA Boston Public Library eCard is a virtual library card that allows you to instantly use all of our online resources. eCard users who wish to check out library materials or reserve museum passes must first upgrade to a standard BPL card.


Can I register for a library card online?


Yes, Massachusetts residents can sign up for a BPL eCard via the web! Just follow the prompts on the registration form and your eCard number will be emailed to you.


Who is eligible for an eCard?


An individual who is 13 years of age or older may register for an eCard if he or she:

If you are unsure whether a category above applies to you, click its link for more information.

Library cards for corporations, businesses, libraries, institutions, and children under the age of 13 must be obtained in person at one of our locations. Institutional cards provide borrowing and interlibrary loan privileges, but do not allow remote access to electronic resources, due to vendor licensing restrictions.


What can I do with my eCard?


An eCard gives you immediate access to the following from your own computer:


What can't I do with my eCard?

You will be asked to upgrade to a standard library card in order to do any of the following:

  • Check out items from our collection
  • Reserve museum passes
  • Use resources from our "in library use only" collections
  • Use an internet-capable public access computer to obtain unfiltered access to the internet using our wireless network.


How do I upgrade to a standard library card?


It's easy!  Bring a picture identification and proof of your current address in the form of postmarked mail, bills, or a lease to any Boston Public Library location or Metro Boston Library Network location and we will be glad to upgrade your card.

Remember - staff will not be able to upgrade your eCard to a standard BPL card without proper identification. (See where to get a library card.)


Why do you need my birthdate?


The Boston Public Library wants to make sure kids are safe online, so in accordance with the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) we don't let children under 13 fill out the contact information required for an eCard account. The birthdate information allows you to confirm that you are 13 or older.

Also, this extra bit of information helps us avoid creating duplicate library cards when you upgrade your card to full borrowing privileges.

Rest assured, your birthdate will never be displayed publicly on our web site and is not used for other purposes that will personally identify you or your library use.


Do I have to upgrade to a standard card?


Yes, if you intend to use it for a long period of time. eCards expire after two years unless they are upgraded to standard BPL cards.

If your eCard expires before you have a chance to upgrade it, you may register for a new eCard.


May I renew my expired eCard?


Although we do not renew expired eCards, you're welcome to register for a new one. Since you only allowed to have one library card at a time, please wait until the first eCard expires before attempting to register for a replacement.

If you have any eBook or downloadable media holds that haven't yet been filled on your old card, we'll need to transfer them to your new account. Simply forward the confirmation email you receive for your new eCard to along with your old card number. We can ask our digital media vendor to transfer any holds from your old eCard to the new one.


Where is the registration form?


You can find the registration form here. It will appear in a popup window, so if you don't see it, please be sure to disable any popup blockers temporarily.