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Burns Library Services


Finding Burns Material

Reference & Instruction Services at Burns Library

Finding Burns Material

For an overview of our collecting strengths and suggested search terms, see Our Collections

It is easiest to find books or archival collections from Burns Library through the advanced search in the library catalog.


Advanced search boxFrom the advanced search:

  1. Limit the Search Scope to Burns Library
  2. Choose your keywords (remember to try multiple options)
  3. Choose what Material Type you want to find:
    • Books
    • Archives & Manuscripts
    • Musical Recordings
    • Scores
  4. Choose what Language you would like
  5. Limit your results to the Date range you are trying to identify
    • Note: when looking for Archives & Manuscripts dates can be very broad for a single collection, so don't limit your dates too closely

For archival collections, the finding aid for a collection can be found at the top of the record, underneath the green words "Find in Burns Library". If there is no link to a finding aid available, contact our reference staff for further assistance in requesting this collection.

Catalog record with link to finding aid

Finding aids differ from library to library and can be strange to navigate if you're unfamiliar with them. If you need a introduction or refresher to finding and reading a finding aid, watch the tutorial below.

Scheduling a Visit

Burns Library has an online request management system.  As you identify what you would like to see, click the "Schedule visit to use in Burns Library" link in the catalog record. 

When prompted to sign-in, either use the Boston College sign-in box to register as a researcher using your BC username and password or use the Guest Researcher box to create an account without a BC username.

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

To complete the form:

  • For published material: Review item information and add details on the specific volume or copy you wish to see (if needed)

  • Archives Request formFor 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.

  • Leave any notes on your request in the Special Requests/Questions field (optional)

  • Schedule the date you would like to visit the reading room (check our hours for more details) at the end of the request form, and press submit.

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. 

For help navigating to Burns Library, see Planning Your Visit

Finding Digitized Material

Selected books, manuscripts and photographs have been digitized and are freely available online

To browse collections and images, click on "BC Digitized Collections" on the catalog search page:

BC Digitized Collections landing page


The BC Digitized Collection landing page allows you to browse collections and, after selecting a collection, browse the individual images within each collection.

To search across all digitized images through the library catalog, change the search scope to "BC Digitized Collections" and choose your keywords.

Limit search scope to BC Digitized Collections


As you find items you wish to view, use the "BC Digitized Collections" link in each catalog record to see the image.

Find Online link in catalog record

Finding Digitized Newspapers

A selection of digitized newspapers are available at Boston College Newspapers. Some highlights include:

All the newspapers are full-text searchable as well as browsable by date.