Boston Public Library
Access to Materials Policy

Policies & Procedures


The mission of the Boston Public Library is to preserve and provide access to the historical record of our society and to serve the cultural, recreational, educational and informational needs of the people of the City and the Commonwealth. The Board of Trustees of the Boston Public Library respects and affirms the individual’s right to access library materials and services. The determination of what library materials and services a person will use rests solely with the individual library user.

The Board of Trustees has established policies that foster the widest possible access to the library’s materials and services. A library card from the Boston Public Library provides access to library materials and services for users in all Boston Public Library locations and via the library’s website.

The principles of access to library materials are embodied and expressed in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and its Interpretations and its Freedom to Read and Freedom to View Statements, which have been adopted by the Trustees of the Boston Public Library.

For information about registering for a Boston Public Library Card, please refer to the Boston Public Library Circulation Procedures and Guidelines.

Card holders are responsible for all materials borrowed or accessed through their card or the cards of children (under the age of 17) for whom they have assumed responsibility. Lost cards should be reported immediately; card holders are responsible for all materials on their card up to the time that they report the card as lost.

Library users may have their borrowing privileges denied in certain circumstances. Refer to the Boston Public Library Circulation Procedures and Guidelines for information about these circumstances.

Parents are responsible for guiding their children’s use of library resources. Standards applied by a child’s parents for that child shall not be imposed on anyone else’s child.

The Boston Public Library is in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act as stated in the library’s Internet Policy and Guidelines.

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 78, Section 7, and according to the library’s Privacy Policy, the Boston Public Library shall not disclose any record or information that identifies a user of library services as requesting or obtaining specific materials or services or as otherwise using the Library. Records may be disclosed only in the following circumstances:

  • If necessary for the reasonable operation of the Library, as determined by the Deputy Director, or the President of the Library.
  • On the written consent of the library user.
  • On receipt of a court order.
  • If required by law.

The Metro-Boston Library Network is an automated network designed to bring strength and collaboration to the libraries residing in the Metropolitan area of Boston. Member libraries may have their own local access policies. Refer to the policies of individual libraries for more information.

The Boston Public Library is a member of a variety of resource sharing consortia, including the Metro Boston Library Network (MBLN), that provide additional access to resources and services for card holders. Rules for access to these materials are governed by the policies of individual consortia members and may vary.

Date Approved: Sept. 11 , 2007.