Conducting Research

The Boston Public Library is committed to preserving, describing, and providing free and open access to all of its special collections.

Special collections materials are discoverable through a variety of online reference tools that describe our collections to varying degrees of detail and, in some cases, reproduce them digitally. 

While many collections have been electronically cataloged and made available online, a significant percentage of our special collections materials — including many books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, archival collections, and original works of art — are primarily discoverable through printed lists and catalogs only available in the library.

Researchers who wish to comprehensively survey BPL collections are therefore encouraged to both search online and to visit in person in order to consult any printed reference materials that might be relevant.

To learn more about finding, accessing, and working with BPL special collections, refer to the Planning a visit and Catalogs and Databases sections.


Print this page