Boston Public Library
Requesting Material

Our Collections

Circulating Material

To place a hold on items that may be checked out, you must have a valid Metro-Boston Library Network (MBLN) library card and PIN number.

Use our online catalog to find material. Click the "Place a Hold" button next to the item you want and follow the instructions. Note that some items, like research material, may not be requested. If no requestable items exist for the item you want, you will see a message onscreen to that effect.

If you wish, you may also simply call the Library (617-536-5400), and we will place the request for you.

Research Material

Research collections may only be used in the library. You may not take this material home, but you may use the materials in this collection during any of the hours we are open.

Many research materials (pre-1974) cannot be searched electronically, but we will gladly assist you in locating them.

Some of our older materials are stored off-site. To find out about availability of materials and to have them set aside for you, call the Delivery Desk (617-536-5400, extension 2244). The Book Delivery Desk staff will need the title, author and call number of the material. They will be able to tell you if the titles you need are stored off-site, and when they can be ready for you here in Copley Square. (If you have difficulty locating the call number, etc., staff can assist over the telephone 617-536-5400, and electronically.) The Delivery Desk staff will pull up to three items.

If you call ahead and have materials set aside for you, you can both save time and insure materials will be available when you arrive.

NOTE: Research material that may be pulled for you will have the location noted in the electronic catalog as "BPL Central - Delivery Desk". For material with a department noted, you need to check with that department. They are often quickly available, but you can call ahead to the department to check the status.

To use the Delivery Desk materials, pick them up at the Delivery Desk on the second floor of the McKim Building. You will need to show your Boston Public Library card in order to use these materials.

If you do not have a library card, please bring identification and you may obtain a free card at the Delivery Desk. Massachusetts residents will receive a full-service card, visitors from other states and countries will receive a courtesy card. Courtesy cards permit patrons to use materials within the library. All cards are free.

Periodicals

Periodicals held in our research collections may only be used in the library. You may use the materials in this collection during any of the hours we are open.

Some of our older materials are stored off-site. To find out about availability of materials and to have them set aside for you, call the Book Delivery Desk (617-536-5400, extension 2244). The Book Delivery Desk staff will need the title, dates and call number of the material. They will be able to tell you if the dates you need are stored off-site, and when they can be ready for you here in Copley Square. (If you have difficulty locating the call number, etc., staff can assist over the telephone 617-536-5400, and electronically.)

If you call ahead and have materials set aside for you, you can both save time and insure materials will be available when you arrive.

When you arrive to use the materials, go to the Book Delivery Desk on the second floor of the McKim Building (the older building). You will need to show your Boston Public Library card in order to use these materials.

If you do not have a library card, please bring identification and you may obtain a free card at the Book Delivery Desk. Massachusetts residents will receive a full-service card, visitors from other states and countries will receive a courtesy card. Courtesy cards permit patrons to use materials within the library. All cards are free.

NOTE: To use periodicals from the last twelve months, you do not need to call ahead. These are more quickly retrieved at the Periodicals Counter in the McKim Building. However, in most cases, you will need the call number to request the material. If you have any questions on what you need or where to retrieve it, please call ahead.

Many of the branches of the Boston Public Library maintain collections (up to a hundred titles) of magazines. They usually keep these for two years and many may be checked out. These are not currently listed in our electronic access catalogs and databases, you will need to check with staff.