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Burns Library Services



Reference & Instruction Services at Burns Library

Access to Burns Library

Guest researchers (i.e. anyone who is not a current Boston College student, faculty, or staff) must make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance. Monday appointments made over the weekend when we are closed will not be accepted.

Appointments are encouraged, but not required, for Boston College students, faculty, and staff.

All services are contingent upon staffing being available.

Reading Room Hours

The reading room will be available for research on the following days/times:

  • Monday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday- Friday: 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Appointments are required for all guest researchers, and encouraged for BC students, faculty and staff. 

The reading room may need to close in order to accommodate Boston College classes coming into Burns Library. Please check our hours for updated information before planning a visit.

Boston College ID holders

If the materials you are interested in using are stored offsite (anything with the message "Advance notice needed; Contact Burns Library" in the library catalog), we require at least 3 business days notice before your appointment.

BC ID holders aren’t required to make appointments, but are encouraged to do so. BC dropins (i.e. appointment not made) will be accommodated if tables are available.

Guest Researchers

To better facilitate research needs and ensure all materials are available, researchers unaffiliated with Boston College (i.e. without a current BCID) are required to make research appointments with at least 1 business day's notice. Please do not travel to the library if you have not had your appointment confirmed via email from us.

If the materials you are interested in using are stored offsite (anything with the message "Advance notice needed; Contact Burns Library" in the library catalog), we require at least 3 business days notice before your appointment.

How to make an appointmennt

Searching the library catalog (search tutorial) will let you limit your results to only Burns Library holdings.

As you identify what you would like to see, click the blue "Schedule Visit to Burns Library" link.

Appointments and requests for materials are completed through the Burns Library online request management system. When prompted to sign-in, use the “login or register” boxes to open or create your account.

Once you've reviewed our registration policies and completed the registration form, you'll return to the request form.

To complete the request form:

  • For published material: Review item information and add details on the specific volume or copy you wish to see (if needed)
  • For archival material:  Review collection information and add the boxes you want to see in the Box field.
    • Materials are viewed at a box level, so you only need to list each box once.
    • Refer to the finding aid in order to identify the boxes you would like to see in the reading room (found at the end of the catalog record under Links). For digital material, enter the Digital Content number from the finding aid in place of box number.
  • In the Special Requests field, if needed, please include any questions or accommodations for your visit.
  • Schedule the date you would like to visit the reading room at the end of the request form, and press submit.

You may place requests for as many materials as you’d like, but will be restricted to using 1 box or up to 3 volumes at a time. Please indicate your priority requests in the Special Requests field. Staff will email you to confirm your appointment date/time and materials.

The reading room staff will have the materials ready for your visit. You'll simply need to show a school or government-issued ID and take a photograph to finish your registration process. 

If we do not have sufficient staffing or any available appointments on the day you requested, Burns Library may notify you that an appointment has been cancelled.

The day of your visit

Please wash your hands thoroughly after arriving.

Researchers may bring only silenced cell phones, digital cameras, wallets, pencils, and laptops or tablets without cases into the reading room. Power cords and headphones for electronic equipment are permitted.

During your visit

Common Areas: 

Burns Library restrooms are on Level 1 (down two flights of stairs); please speak to staff if you need an accessible restroom. 

Reading Room: 

If this is your first visit to Burns Library, staff will need to take a photograph of you to complete your Burns Library Account.

All researchers will be asked to show a photo ID.

Hand sanitizer is not allowed in the Reading Room. If you have used hand sanitizer, please thoroughly wash/rinse your hands so damaging residue is not  transferred to the materials. Researchers will not wear gloves in the Reading Room unless working with photographs, metal, plaster, or vellum.

While in the reading room, you will have access to one box or up to 3 volumes on your table at one time.  Let staff know when you are finished, and they will remove the box/book(s) and set up any additional material you have requested. 

No materials will be retrieved within 30 minutes of closing.

Staff will gather collection materials 10 minutes before closing.