Rare Books Department

3rd Floor, McKim Building, Central Library

Rare Books & Manuscripts Department Closed for Inventory & Capital Improvements

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

The department is currently closed to all in-person public service to accommodate a major construction project to ensure the long-term preservation of its historic rare books and manuscript collections. This City of Boston-funded capital project includes substantial environmental and mechanical improvements to the Department’s collection storage areas, staff spaces, conservation lab, and public reading room.

Current projections indicate that the Rare Books & Manuscripts Department will remain closed to in-person public service for the time being.

Limited remote reference service is available via email at rare_books@bpl.org.

Patrons may visit the Internet Archive and Digital Commonwealth to view a portion of the Library’s special collections online. Information about individual collections can also be found on the Special Collections page. Please note that we are not able to fulfill custom digitization requests.

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).

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.


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