Boston Public Library
Where to Check Out Material
Borrowing and Circulating Information


A library card may only be used by the person to whom it is issued. You are responsible for all borrowed materials, including fines and fees for overdue, lost or damaged items. Please note the due dates of the material you check out. You are responsible for returning anything checked out on your card by the due date, whether you choose to take a receipt or not.

Central Library (Johnson and McKim buildings)
All library material may be checked out at circulation desks in the Johnson or McKim buildings. The desk in the Johnson building is located on the left, just after the security gates by the Boylston Street entrance. The McKim desk is in the first floor lobby at the bottom of the grand staircase. You must present your library card and the items in order to check them out.

Neighborhood Branches
Each neighborhood branch has a Circulation Desk. The Circulation Desk is generally located at the front of each building. You must present your library card and the items in order to check them out.

Self Check-Out Machines
At the Central Library and many of our neighborhood branches, self-check machines are available for self-service checkout of materials. You must have your library card with you to use the self-check machines.

To use the self-check machines:

  1. Follow all of the directions on the screen.
  2. Scan the barcode on the back of your library card.
  3. Place the first item you want to check out into the machine, with the barcode on the front underneath the scanner. (Older books may have barcodes on the inside of the back cover.) The barcode you need to scan says "Boston Public Library" under it.
  4. Insert the spine of the item into the V-shaped slot on the machine.
  5. Make sure that the spine of the item rubs against the bottom of the V.
  6. Repeat this process with all items you want to check out.
  7. When finished, touch the "I'm Finished" button on the screen to recieve your receipt. Please keep track of your due dates. You are responsible for returning anything checked out on your card by the due date, whether you choose to take a receipt or not.