Computer & Network Use

Computer & Network Use


Boston Public Library offers free Wi-Fi. Patrons using wireless devices may access the Library's Internet service at all locations.

Laptops need the following to connect to Wi-Fi:

  • 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

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 Wi-Fi

Step 1 — Use your wireless connection utility to connect to the wireless network named BostonPublicLibrary.

Step 2 — Open your web browser and try to browse any website. You will be redirected to the login page. You will then be asked to accept the library's Internet Policy and Guidelines, opens a new window. 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 you are still unable to connect to Wi-Fi:

  • Ensure that your wireless network card is set to DHCP or automatic and does not have a static or manual IP address.
  • Smartphones, tablets, E-readers need to open a browser to logon to Wi-Fi before attempting to use any other app.
  • On smartphones and LTE tablets: personal hotspot or tethering MUST BE DISABLED.

Instructions for specific operating systems are below:

Public Computers

Boston Public Library offers desktop computers in addition to the laptops available in every branch. Please note:

  • A library card or visitor account 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 visitor's card is necessary for computer use.
  • You may print documents using library computers.
  • Users are required to adhere to any posted use or time limitations.

Laptop Lending

Every Boston Public Library location, except the Central Library in Copley Square, 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:

Computer Instruction

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 in Copley Square. 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.


Boston Public Library offers printing services from its desktop public computers, or from a personal device.


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. Boston Public Library complies with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act which requires the use of filtering software for adults, teens and children. 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

Using Technology in the Library FAQs

  • The BPL offers wireless connections to the Library's Internet service in all of our locations. 

    Look for the WiFi network BostonPublicLibrary and connect via your device's procedure for WiFi connection. Launch your browser, accept the security certificate to begin using the network.

  • Our accessible workstations in Tech Central at the Central Library can be reserved in advance by patrons who need them by phone at 617.859.2255.

    Otherwise, we don’t offer off-site reservation of our computers. To get into the queue on-site, use the sign-in station.

  • For help with your device, you can contact your local library to see if you can schedule a one-on-one session or attend a class for help using our services on your device. If you need technical support for your device, we can help you find where to get it.

    To see a list of our upcoming technology classes on particular devices and software, check our calendar for details.

  • To borrow a laptop, present your library card. (You can use an ID if you don’t have your library card with you.) Library staff will ask to verify your address, either verbally or with an ID.

    If the address matches your borrower record, the laptop will be checked out to your card. If your address is incorrect in our system, you will be required to provide an ID so we may update it.

    Out-of-state residents and patrons without a library card will be directed to a desktop computer.

  • Computer use is limited to two hours per day, but time will be extended up to four hours if no other patrons are waiting. In addition, some locations have express computers available that do not require a library card or guest pass but are limited to fifteen minutes of use.

  • We provide a five-minute grace period on computer reservations. If you’re later than five minutes, you’ll need to make a new reservation.

  • Yes. Our express computers in the Central Library in Copley Square’s Tech Central do not require a library card or guest pass, but are limited to fifteen minutes of use. Our staff can issue you a temporary guest pass for a longer session at other computers.

    If you are unable to register for a library card, either because you live out-of-state or you don’t have the proper identification on your person, you may be given a guest pass to use computers. This applies to all ages, so children who are old enough to use the library unattended are also be allowed to use a computer with a guest pass.

    If you are eligible for a library card, you will be informed of the identification we need to complete your registration. The next time you visit the library, please visit the Borrower Services desk to register your card before you use the computer.

    If you have previously registered for a card but don’t have it with you, we can look up your card number so you may sign up for a computer.

  • Universal Assistive Technology

    All patron computers in all locations have integrated Windows Ease of Access capabilities for text size, high contrast, magnification, and screen reading. All locations have large print/high contrast keyboard on at least one public workstation or by request.

    Adaptive Computer Station

    One adaptive computer station is available for use in Tech Central, located in the Central Library on the first floor of the Boylston Street Building. In addition to the standard Microsoft Office 2016 and Microsoft Edge and Chrome browsers supported by all BPL public computers, the adaptive workstation includes a large screen monitor, large print/high contrast keyboard, and the following additional assistive tools:

    • Jaws Screen Reader
    • Duxbury Braille Translator
    • Braille Printer Juliet
    • Kurzweil 3000

    General Information

    Computer use is limited to two hours per day, with an automatic extension up to four hours if no one is waiting. Customers must have a Boston Public Library card or a visitor pass to sign up for computer time. Telephone reservations are permitted. Please call 617.859.2255 to make reservations or for more information about the adaptive computer station.

    Staff at the desk can assist patrons with basic computer questions. If advanced or extended one-on-one assistance is needed, please make an appointment by emailing or calling 617-859-2323.

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