Research Services

Johnson building, second floor & McKim building, Bates Hall, second floor


Research Services has two locations in the Central Library in Copley Square where staff can assist you with finding collections for your use, whether for the casual learner, for formal education support, or for scholarly research. Information about the community, how to plan a vacation, or genealogical research into your family tree are all areas with which the Research Services staff can help. View this guide to help you get started researching.

For the best service, e-mail the library at ask@bpl.org in advance of your visit. This will allow the staff to prepare for your arrival, whether collections need to be retrieved from closed stacks, or online research is needed before assisting you. Have an in-depth research question you'd like help with? Book a librarian appointment.

The BPL has extensive research collections available for use within the Library, including newspapers and magazines on microfilm, and government documents. Digitized prints and documents are also available through our online repository,  Digital Commonwealth, and we have many online research guidesopens a new window to assist users remotely.

For research related to our special collections, please head over to our special collections page to find more detailed information on our collections and how to request items to view. Please note that some collections are unavailable through 2020 as we work on a major renovation project.

Maps, atlases, and other cartographic materials are located at the Leventhal Map & Education Center, located in the Central Library in Copley Square. Research services are available at the center on weekdays and by special appointment.