Rare Books Department

3rd Floor, McKim Building, Central Library

Rare Books & Manuscripts Department Limited Hours

Thank you for your interest in using collections held in the Boston Public Library’s Rare Books & Manuscripts Department.

Starting in February 2017, the library will begin an inventory of the Rare Books & Manuscripts Department’s nearly 250,000 rare books and one million manuscripts.

To accommodate this work, rare books and manuscript materials will be available to view in the public reading room only on Thursdays (9:00am-4:45pm), beginning the week of February 6. In addition, all Reading Room appointments must be made with 48 hours advance notice (by 5:00pm on Tuesdays); unfortunately, walk-in requests cannot be accommodated during the inventory. We expect this project to last through late Summer.

For more information or to schedule a visit, please email us at rare_books@bpl.org or call 617-859-2225.

Remote reference services will also be available, and patrons may visit https://archive.org/details/bostonpubliclibrary and www.digitalcommonwealth.org to view a portion of the Library’s special collections online.

We deeply apologize for the inconvenience. Please direct any questions regarding collections or the closure to Head of Special Collections Beth Prindle (617.859.2379, bprindle@bpl.org) or Chief of Collections Laura Irmscher (617.859.2141, lirmscher@bpl.org).

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department serves as the Boston Public Library's principal repository of rare books, manuscripts and historical artifacts of permanent or enduring value collected for their intellectual content and historical significance. The primary mission of the department and its staff is to preserve and create access to these collections through collection development, cataloging, reference services, interpretive programs and exhibitions, and conservation, in order to make them accessible to the scholarly community and the general public.

Exhibits, Past
Internet Resources
Photo reproduction
Use of the Department