Information on setting up an in-person or remote research appointment
Our collections are free and open to the public. Access to rare materials is available by appointment, and requires the researcher to hold a Boston Public Library card. Standard library cards are available to any resident of Massachusetts, and more information about obtaining a borrowing card is available at the BPL website.
Non-Massachusetts residents can apply for a research card for the purpose of using research materials (in-library use only). This can be obtained with photo identification that shows your name and address and has your signature. The easiest form of ID is a driver’s license or State ID card showing your current address. For more information about obtaining a research card, visit the BPL website.
The Rare Maps Reading Room is available by appointment Tuesday-Friday 10 am-4 pm. Appointments are required in order to view materials in the reading room. As a standard, appointments require four days advance booking, though special accommodations can occasionally be granted.
Requests for materials and appointment scheduling is conducted through the online Aeon system. You will need to register for an Aeon account (which is distinct from a BPL catalog library card account) online, and at your first visit you will need to validate your registration by showing your library research card.
Request materials and make an appointment
For assistance or questions, please contact a librarian.
For security purposes, only select personal items are permitted in the Rare Maps Reading Room. Coats, bags, and other belongings can be stored in a locker while using the reading room.
You are welcome to bring your laptop, silenced phone, camera and associated cords into the reading room. We have paper and pencils available for notetaking. If there’s anything else you would like to bring with you, please let us know when you submit your appointment request.
Our reference library staff can help you find material in our Digital Collections, and conduct research related to historical geography.