Who Can Get a Card

Borrowing and Circulating Information


You are eligible for a library card if you are:

  • a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • a Massachusetts property owner
  • commute to Massachusetts for work
  • residing in Massachusetts while attending school
  • a resident of temporary housing in Massachusetts

Library users from outside Massachusetts may apply for a research card for the purpose of using Research Library materials (in-library use only).

Children 12 and under need a parent’s signature to get a library card.

The Boston Public Library is a member of the Metro-Boston Library Network and will accept library cards from the Chelsea Public Library and the Malden Public Library. If you have a library card from any of the following Massachusetts library networks, the Boston Public Library will allow you to use that card when you register for borrowing privileges: Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing (CLAMS), Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing (C/W MARS), Fenway Libraries Online (FLO), Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC), Minuteman Library Network (MLN), North of Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE), Old Colony Library Network (OCLN), and SAILS Library network.

Library card holders may borrow circulating library materials from the Boston Public Library, Central Library and Branches, and the libraries in the Metro-Boston Library Network, and may use research collection items housed in the Central Library or off-site. Library cards and PINs are also used to access the library's online databases and downloadable media collections. All non-circulating materials may only be used in the Library. Courtesy card holders may use non-circulating Research Library materials in the Research Library. A library card may only be used by the person to whom it is issued.

Your library card is as valuable as a credit card and should be treated with great care. Card holders are held responsible for material obtained with their library cards. Card holders should report immediately to the Library:

  • the loss of a card
  • a change in name
  • a change in address

Library cards are not transferable. Please see our list of frequently asked questions to learn all of the benefits and responsibilities that accompany your library card privileges.