Central Library: Children's Library

Boylston Street Building, Second Floor

Picture of the Johnson renovated children's room

The Children’s Library at the Central Library in Copley Square is a vibrant space for our young visitors and their caregivers, featuring whimsical, colorful designs that evoke the City of Boston.

The Children’s Library is for children in grades eight and under in the company of a parent, teacher, or adult caregiver. Everyone is welcome to browse the collection or look for a book, but seating in the Children’s Library is limited to children and their accompanying adults only. For more information, please see our Safe Child policy.

Programs

The Children’s Library hosts a wide variety of programs for children and their caregivers. Check our calendar for upcoming events for children at the Central Library.

Collections

The children’s room has a large & diverse collection, including:

Technology

The Children’s Library features public computers for use with a child’s Boston Public Library card. Four AWE Early Literacy Stations, featuring games and activities for young children, are available for half hour sessions with no library card required.

For general information on public computer use and printing at the Boston Public Library, please visit Computers and Technology.

Related FAQs

  • To schedule a class visit with the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, please review their K-12 education page and contact them with the information provided.
  • Yes!  Have your students fill out a library card application and send it to the library one week before your scheduled visit. As long as your students live or work in Massachusetts, they can get a BPL library card. It not only lets you borrow books, music, magazines, and movies from our buildings, it also lets you use our electronic resources.

  • Contacting the children’s librarian at the location you’re visiting is the best way to ensure your class will receive the materials they need on the day of your visit. Getting in touch ahead of time allows children’s librarians to request books from other library branches if needed, especially if your class is studying a seasonal or topical subject.  Two weeks’ notice will improve the chances of the material arriving in time.

  • An initial visit, including a tour, library card distribution, and a chance for the children to choose books to take home with them takes at least forty minutes for a group of twenty five children. If you’ve arranged to have book talks or a story as well, you should add in an additional fifteen minutes.

  • Please check with the librarian to see what services they can offer, as the services offered at that location may change.

    Obtaining Library Cards

    --For Children: Approximately 2 weeks. Week one to send applications home & be returned to you for review. Week two to drop off applications to the branch for Circulation staff to enter into our registration system.If you bring applications on the day of the visit, we can’t guarantee that there will be sufficient staff available to get it all done. Plan for 15 - 30 minutes of the class visit time for the librarian to distribute the cards. You can find the applications here.

    --For Teens at Teen Central: Approximately 2 weeks. Week one download application and have teens fill in (they don’t need a parent/guardian signature). Week two scan and email applications to teencentral@bpl.org  for staff to enter into our registration system. If you bring applications on the day of the visit, we can’t guarantee that there will be sufficient staff available to get it all done. Plan for 10 minutes of the class visit time for the librarian to distribute the cards. You can find the applications here.

    --Library Orientation: Usually the first class visit of the year. Plan for about 15-20 minutes during which your Librarian will introduce the BPL system & branches, collections, room set-up and & systems of organization, appropriate use, program calendars & behavior expectations.

    --Teen Central Orientation: Plan for about 15-20 minutes during which a Teen Central Librarian will introduce the teens to services (laptops, gaming space, digital makerspace and collection) programs, resources and appropriate use. If your class is interested in learning some of our softwares, please choose one of the programs below and let us know when scheduling the visit.

    --Basics of 3D Modeling and Printing: Teens can get an introduction to 3D digital design and printing. Your class will get an overview of 3D art and potential career paths and have the opportunity to create something new using Tinkercad and the Lab’s 3D printer. 

    --Sticker design with Silhouette: Teens can design their own personal logo and turn it into a sticker using Silhouette Studio software and the Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutter. Teens will learn how to use a new creative software and can leave with a sticker to put on their phones, notebooks, wherever!

    --Button-Making Workshop with Google Slides: Teens can design their own button using the familiar tools available in the Google for Education suite (specifically Google Slides). An introductory course for the beginning designer! [More advanced workshops using Adobe Photoshop are available upon request.]

    --Introduction to Photoshop: Cartoon yourself: Teens will use Photoshop to make themselves into a cartoon character by uploading their own pictures and alter it by adding various effects onto the image. 

     -- Story time: A story time dovetails nicely for the first class. Plan for 5-10 minutes.

    -- Craft/activity: such as library treasure hunt or coloring, may be related to topics or stories. Plan for 10-20 minutes.  If not, you may request this for subsequent visits.

    -- Topical Research support:  Does your class have a project? Discuss this with the Librarian at least 2 weeks in advance so that enough resources can be obtained locally or by inter-library loan to meet your students’ needs. We also offer tutorials on how to do research using our free online databases, use the online library catalog to find materials to borrow, and use apps to help with research needs.

    -- Special Program Attendance: Join us for a sponsored program we have arranged. Examples are Author talks and Museum of Science traveling events. You may need to pre-register due to size limitations. Event announcements will be sent once a librarian knows how to contact you, or you can browse listings on our calendar.

    -- Older grades: Tutorials on how to do research using our free online databases, use the onlilne library catalog to find materials to borrow, use apps, etc.

    Librarians look forward to collaborating and building relationships that make positive experiences for you and your students. Share your aspirations and let us work with you to figure out how to achieve your goals.

  • Yes. You can fill out one of the forms below and bring it to the circulation desk in any BPL location, to get a library card

    You do not need one of these forms to get a library card, but we recommend it if you will be bringing a group of students with you to get library cards. We recommend giving the forms to the students about two weeks before the scheduled visit and reviewing them for errors. Then, allow us about a week to create the library cards before your visit. If you bring applications on the day of the visit, we can’t guarantee that there will be sufficient staff available to get it all done.

    Here is the library card application form you can print and fill out, in nine different languages:

  • Please call your closest branch Children’s Librarian in advance to schedule a class visit to the library, and to discuss what services are possible based on the Librarian’s work schedule commitments. (At least one week in advance to request specific services). If no children’s librarian is available, call the branch’s main number and ask to speak to any available librarian.

    Teen Central requires a two week advance notice for any school visit. Please contact 617.859.2335 or teencentral@bpl.org to schedule your class visit.

  • Libraries are free and open to all. However, you may not be satisfied with your visit if the Librarian is unable to devote time to your class due to other time commitments. Librarians look forward to collaborating and building relationships that make positive experiences for the students, and support your academic goals. All visits to the Children's Library in Copley Square must be scheduled ahead of time due to the room's high occupancy. Teen Central requires a two week advance notice for any school visit. Please contact 617.859.2335 or teencentral@bpl.org to schedule your class visit. Some other locations may be able to accommodate unscheduled visits. You can get in touch with the location you’d like to visit to plan with the librarians there.

  • Art and Architecture Tours at Central Library

    You can book a self-guided tour for your student group by getting in touch with us at tours@bpl.org or 617.536.5400Private tours are also available for student groups, but are not free.

    Children’s Library and Teen Central

    We recommend two weeks notice for a class visit. Class visits are welcome at a number of our locations. Get in touch with the location you’d like to visit to plan with the librarians there. Teen Central requires a two week advance notice for any school visit. Please contact 617.859.2335 or teencentral@bpl.org to schedule your class visit. Be sure to mention if you would like students to sign up for library cards when you first get in touch with the desired location.

  • We offer guided Art & Architecture tours of the Central Library. We can accommodate private group tours when scheduled in advance. See our Central Library Tours page for more information.

    Student groups must register with our Tours office at least 3 weeks in advance before visiting for an Art & Architecture tour. Additional tours of library collections and services are available for student groups.

    We also offer many resources for those who wish to tour the Central Library on their own.

Back to Top