Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. As a City of Boston historic cultural institution, Boston Public Library today features a central library and twenty-five neighborhood branches, serving nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Kim Janey. The mission of the Library is focused on four core areas: reading and literacy, spaces and programs, reference and instruction, and special collections and cultural heritage. Our commitment to be ‘Free to All’ is carved into the façade of the Central Library in Copley Square, and we are proud to welcome everyone equally regardless of gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, faith, or economic status.
Situated in the BPL’s Central Library in Copley Square, the Special Collections Department facilitates discovery and supports public engagement with rare, distinctive, and culturally significant materials held by Boston Public Library.