Getting a Library Card
Can’t make it to the Boston Public Library in person? Sign up for an eCard to use our electronic resources. If you want to borrow physical materials, you can upgrade to a physical card in person.
Apply for a physical library card at the circulation desk in any BPL location.
Come with picture ID and proof of Massachusetts residency, which can be either a physical document or an official document available on an electronic device. A Massachusetts driver’s license or ID card satisfies both requirements.
If you don’t have a Massachusetts driver’s license or state ID, you can bring some other form of ID that shows your picture and signature along with official mail sent to you at a Massachusetts address.
Let us know if you have a preferred first name. Your preferred first name does not need to match your ID. An ID or bill with a deadname or legal name is still a valid form of address verification. All changes to your record require proof of ID.
Kids ages 12 and under can get a card with the signature of a parent or guardian.
If you are bringing a large group of people to the library to register for a card, we encourage you to print and fill out our library card application in advance before coming to the library.
eCards are available to anyone who lives, resides part-time to attend school, owns property, or works in Massachusetts.
eCards do not allow you to check out physical items such as museum passes, CDs, DVDs, and physical books. To check out physical items, you need a physical card.
You can get a research card at the Central Library in Copley Square at either the Borrower Services Desk (Level One of the Boylston Street building) or the Delivery Desk (Level Two of the McKim building). This card is free and allows use of materials inside the library. To get this card, you need a photo ID and a document that states your current address. A driver's license or state ID should fulfill both requirements.
If you are coming to the BPL from far away for extensive research, we encourage you to reach out to our Research Services librarians ahead of your visit to ensure the most efficient use of your time here. You can email our Research Services librarians at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for an eCard, opens a new window if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Your primary residence is in Massachusetts.
- You are living in Massachusetts for most of the year while attending school in-state.
- You commute to a Massachusetts employer on a sustained and regular basis. (Your primary place of work.) Learn more.
- You own property (real estate) in Massachusetts. Learn more.
If you are a short-term resident staying in Massachusetts you are not eligible for an eCard. However, you can visit any of our locations and apply for a research card in-person at the Central Library in Copley Square.
If you have any other card with the BPL, you are not eligible for an eCard (and don’t need one!)
Children under 13 years of age are ineligible for an eCard due to COPPA restrictions.
If you have any questions about eligibility, please email email@example.com.
Yes! If you meet the eligibility requirements and have an email address, you can get an eCard in about five minutes, opens a new window and start using it right away.
eCards can only be used to access digital resources from the BPL. But if you want to borrow physical items, you can upgrade to a physical library card at any of our locations.
Yes. You are eligible for either a physical library card or an eCard.
Bring a photo ID and proof of your Massachusetts address (like a piece of official mail or a lease) to any BPL location.
No. Your physical library card provides all the benefits of eCards plus access to the physical collection, including museum passes.
Use of our facilities is free to all. You do not need a library card to visit the BPL, and you can request a guest pass at any service desk to use our computers on a temporary basis.
If you want to borrow from our collections, you’ll need to get a card. Many area shelters can provide official letters vouching for your eligibility for a Boston Public Library card.
If you live, own property, or work in Massachusetts, you can get a BPL card. Students who live here while attending school are also eligible.
If you're over age 12, bring a photo ID and proof of your residency in Massachusetts. A driver's license or other state ID will meet both requirements.
If you’re 12 and under, you can get a card with the signature of a parent or guardian at any BPL location.