Boston Public Library
Computers and Technology

Laptop Lending and Computer Instruction | Wireless | Public Computers | Printing | Policies

Laptop Lending and Computer Instruction

Every Boston Public Library branch has laptops available for library card holders to borrow for up to 2 hours of in-library use.

Please read the Laptop Lending borrowing guidelines and contract (PDF) for more information:

A city-wide instruction initiative, in collaboration with the Boston Housing Authority and the Boston Centers for Youth and Family, is offered at every library branch and at other sites around the city. Computer instruction labs are located at the Central Library at Copley Square and the Dudley Literacy Center. Instruction at all other locations is on library laptops (also available for in-library use).

See more information about computer classes and technology instruction at the Boston Public Library.


wireless laptopThe BPL is a free wireless hotspot. Patrons using wireless devices may access the Library's Internet service at all locations. Direct plug-in ports are also available in Bates Hall in the Central Library and in the Adult Reading Room at the Honan-Allston Branch.

Laptops need the following to connect to the wireless network:

  • A wireless network interface card, 802.11b or later
  • A charged battery. Specially designated electrical outlets are available at some, but not all, BPL locations
  • Compatible headphones if you plan to listen to music or a video
  • For direct plug-in access, you will also need to bring a data cable at least 5 ft long.

Mobile devices (including smartphones, wireless-enabled e-readers, and wireless-enabled mp3 players) need to log in to the wireless network using a browser before using any other application.

Please note the Library cannot assist you with your device, wireless card, or configuration. The Library cannot accept the liability of handling your equipment.

Connecting to the Wireless

Step 1 - Use your wireless connection utility to connect to the wireless access point named BostonPublicLibrary.

Step 2 – Open your web browser. Accept the security certificate that the Library's system sends. You will then be asked to accept the library's Internet Policy and Guidelines and optionally, to log in with your library card number and PIN. Once you have done this, the Library's home page will come up and you are ready to use our wireless system.

Step 3 – If this does not work smoothly, you may need to change the IP address that your laptop uses.

Instructions for specific operating systems are below:

If needed, there is additional wireless help for Windows Vista and older Windows operating systems.

Public Computers

In addition to the laptops available in every branch, the Boston Public Library offers desktop computers that you may use to reach Internet-accessible resources.

Public computer use:

  • In our branch locations and many Central Library departments you must sign up with the Pharos Computer Reservation System before using an Internet computer; a library or visitors card is necessary for some computer use.
  • If you are doing subject specific research in some Central Library research departments, you must sign in with Library staff before using an Internet computer; a library or visitors card is necessary for computer use.
  • You may print documents at specified printing stations. You must purchase a print card to pay for the printouts.
  • Users are required to adhere to any posted use or time limitations.


The Boston Public Library offers pay-for-print services from its desktop public computers. Wireless printing is not available at this time.

To print documents at the library:

  • Before beginning, purchase a green Print Card at the vending station at any BPL location. Cards cost $1 to purchase and come with $0.45 on them. Printing costs $0.15 per page; add money to your card to print out the number of pages you need.
  • Sign on to a public computer using your library card number and PIN.
  • Open the document or find the web page you want to print.
  • Use Print Preview to choose the pages you want to print, to select the number of copies you need, or to change to color printing. Click Print to send the file to the printers.
  • When you're ready to print, go to the Print Station and log in with your library card number and PIN. Click on Print Documents, then click on the file you want to print.
  • Insert your Print Card into the reader, then click on Print on the screen. Click on the next file and click Print. Repeat until all files are printed.
  • Click on Log Off to retrieve your Print Card. Return to the computer you were using and continue working, or click on Log Off to finish your session.
  • If you need additional help, please read our printing instructions.
  • Users are required to adhere to any posted use or time limitations.


The Boston Public Library does not monitor Internet use, has no control over the information accessed through the Internet, and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Internet may contain material of a controversial nature. The Boston Public Library complies with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act which requires the use of filtering software for adults, teens and children. Adults, defined by the law as over the age of 17, may choose to use unfiltered computers for Internet access. Filtering software may not block all material users might find offensive. Parents may give their children approval to use unfiltered computers for bona fide research or other lawful purposes. Parents are encouraged to supervise their children’s Internet sessions.

Boston Public Library Internet Policy

Children's Internet Protection Act Compliance