The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department of Boston Public Library connects people to history. Located at the Central Library in Copley Square, we collect printed books and handwritten materials from around the world. Our collections are open to everyone, both online and in-person.
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department is the Boston Public Library’s primary repository for rare and historically significant books, manuscripts, and related materials. Our staff works to facilitate research, discovery, and learning through public engagement with the primary source materials under our care.
Through careful stewardship, we build, describe, and preserve the library’s collections so that they can be used by the people of Boston, the Commonwealth, and communities of researchers and learners everywhere.
Values and vision
Our mission takes us beyond acquiring and securing the collections under our care. We engage our holdings specifically to meet the research, learning, and cultural enrichment needs of the communities that we serve.
Assuring that people remain centered in the work of rare materials stewardship requires thoughtful planning and intensive collaboration. For us, this work is iterative and ongoing.
Looking ahead, we seek to
Build collections that reflect the information needs of the diverse communities we serve.
Become more responsive to emerging research trends.
Increase our support for instructors and for teaching with primary source materials more broadly.