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Print Department Closed for Inventory

Public service in the Print Department is currently suspended in order to complete an inventory of the entire print collection. The Boston Public Library anticipates that the inventory will be finished at the end of 2016, at which time public service will resume. Many images from the Print Department can be found on the Digital Commonwealth and Flickr. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Please be aware that some material in the Arts collection require up to 72 hours advanced notice before viewing. Other Arts materials, specifically archival collections, books published before 1800, and some rare or fragile music items are not available for viewing at this time. Requestable material can be pulled in advance of your visit to the library - please contact an Arts staff member for further assistance. You will need a BPL card in order to request items from the collection. More information on how to get a card can be found here:


You can also contact BPL research services at 617-536-5400 and


Research Services

Delivery Desk — Newspapers, Magazines & Books
Second Floor, McKim Building, Central Library

Books and periodical titles with a location of Delivery Desk in the catalog cannot be checked out, but you can ask to use them in-library with a library or guest card at the Delivery Desk for Newspapers, Magazines and Books. Requests are taken up to the last 25 minutes before closing time. Magazines over five years old are in remote storage and may take at least 24 hours to retrieve. You may also call ahead to request a title.

The Arts — Fine Arts & Music
Washington Room, Second Floor, McKim Building, Central Library

The Arts Department includes the subject areas of Fine Arts and Music. Fine Arts collections include reference and non-circulating books and journals about art history, architecture, painting, sculpture, drawing, design, illustration, decorative arts, and antiques; City of Boston Building Department records of Boston Buildings, c.1879 to 1966; and many special materials focusing on the art and architecture of New England (most viewed by appointment only). Music collections include reference and non-circulating books and journals about music history, criticism, education, theory, and composition; historical editions of music; as well as a large collection of early music imprints and manuscripts.

Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center (KBLIC)
Lower Level, Johnson Building, Central Library

The Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center (KBLIC) invites job seekers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, investors, coders, and makers to its newly renovated space on the Lower Level of the Johnson Building. KBLIC services include specialized business reference and research, technology classes, lectures, and houses the Funding Information Network resources for those researching foundations, grants, and grant writing.

Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center
First Floor, McKim Building, Central Library

The NBL Map Center seeks to preserve, catalog, study, and exhibit the BPL's historically significant collection of 350,000 (World, European, and United States) maps.

Please visit our website.

If you would like more information regarding the map center, please contact us at 617-859-2387 or e-mail

Third Floor, McKim Building, Central Library

The Print Department has built collections that today total over 100,000 prints and drawings and 650,000 photographs, making it one of the largest public collections of prints in the United States. Among the outstanding holdings are works by Rembrandt, Durer, Rowlandson, Goya, Daumier, Toulouse-Lautrec and Boston Artists. Currently closed for inventory.

Rare Books and Manuscripts
Closed for inventory

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department houses more than 600,000 printed items and 1 million manuscripts. Among the important holdings are large collections on Colonial and Revolutionary Massachusetts, The Personal Library of John Adams, Anti-Slavery Manuscripts, the Barton Collection of Shakesperiana, The Theodore Parker Collection, the William Addison Dwiggins Collection, and the Galatea Collection on the History of Women. In addition there are many important examples of medieval manuscripts, incunabula, and fine printing.

Research Services Department
Second Floor, McKim Building (Bates Hall Reading Room) and Second Floor, Johnson Building

Reference Services offers expert research and study assistance on many subjects, including history, genealogy, government information, and the social sciences. Librarians can help you with searching the library’s print and online collections and our online databases of articles and research sources. For any items the library does not own, librarians can assist patrons with requesting material from other libraries.

Special Collections
Closed for inventory

The Boston Public Library holds special collections in a wide variety of subjects. Special collection material does not circulate and must be used under staff supervision within the Central Library. Titles from the Alice M. Jordan Children's Literature Collection can be requested at Book Delivery to be viewed in the Rare Books Reading Room.

Special Services

Interlibrary Loan

If the Boston Public Library does not own a particular book or publication, we can get it for you through our Interlibrary Loan services.

Literacy Services

The Boston Public Library offers a wide range of materials for adults learning to read, and those learning to speak English.