Make an Appointment

Information on setting up an in-person or remote research appointment

In-Person Access to Rare Maps

Access to the Collections

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.

Request an In-Person Appointment

Once you have obtained a library card and have identified the material that you would like to access, please fill out the following form to request an appointment. Please note that not all material can be paged on demand, and you should allow for several days between placing your request before your items can be paged.

Reading Room Policy

For security purposes, only select personal items are permitted in the Rare Maps Reading Room. Coats, bags, books, notebooks, and other belongings can be stored in a locker in a secure staff area while using the reading room.

The following items are permitted in the reading room:

  • Pencils
  • Laptops, cameras, and electronic accessories removed from their cases
  • Loose sheets of paper and notecards, though they must be kept to an absolute minimum and are subject to inspection by staff
  • Any materials brought into the reading room are subject to inspection. Patrons may be asked to open laptops, present loose papers for inspection, etc.

Items not permitted in the reading room include but are not limited to:

  • Notebooks, notepads, folders, or envelopes of any kind
  • Paper clips, rubber bands, or other fasteners
  • Adhesive tapes, sticky notes
  • Pens, markers
  • Personal scanners
  • Hats, large coats, or jackets
  • Bags of any kind or size
  • Food, drink, or chewing gum
  • Strollers

Remote Research Appointments

Our reference library staff can help you find material in our Digital Collections, and conduct research related to historical geography.