For reference questions, or questions about specific resources, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about the Library for the Commonwealth program, contact Catherine Halpin, Collaborative Library Services Coordinator: email@example.com.
The Library for the Commonwealth (LFC) at the Boston Public Library (BPL) expands access for all Massachusetts residents to collections, reference and research assistance, education and skill-building tools, and our shared cultural heritage.
E-cards are used throughout the Commonwealth, allowing residents to enjoy instant remote access to online services, including a broad selection of e-resources, downloadable e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and music, as well as streaming services offering access to television shows and movies.
E-cards are available to anyone who lives, resides part-time to attend school, owns property, or works in Massachusetts. E-cards expire every 2 years, but are renewable online. An eCard can be upgraded to a BPL card with borrowing privileges for physical items by visiting a BPL location with photo ID and proof of a MA address.
A BPL e-card will give you remote access to our electronic collections, such as: e-books & audiobooks, movies, tv, digital magazines, music, and databases. To begin exploring, visit the A-Z Resources List and the Stream & Download information.
Library eBooks and Audiobooks (LEA) refers to the ability to link to the OverDrive collections of the other automated library networks (CLAMS, CW MARS, Minuteman, MVLC, NOBLE, OCLN, and SAILS) to have increased access to eBooks and audiobooks. Learn how to add other Networks' collections in the OverDrive Libby app.
Commonwealth eBook Collections is an MLS-run program that provides eligible MLS members (non-network public, academic, school, and special libraries) access to eBooks and audiobooks via OverDrive.
Sora is the reading platform for school libraries. While schools are able to connect public library OverDrive collections, public library patrons are not able to read titles on the Sora platform.
Statewide databases provided by MBLC/MLS are contracting on behalf of Massachusetts libraries (libraries get unique links for their own websites and patrons can use their own, local library card). BPL contracts as a single library, but as the Library for the Commonwealth we serve residents across the state. We don’t provide databases for MA libraries, we provide access to MA residents. That means that patrons need to sign up for a BPL e-card or physical BPL borrower’s card and access the e-resources from the BPL website.
There is no limit. Each student would need to have their own individual log-in.
The majority of BPL’s e-resources are available offsite to those with either an e-card or borrower’s card. However, due to licensing constraints there are a small number that, regardless of card type, are available only while onsite at a BPL location. These are noted as such on our list of online resources. If you need remote assistance with one of these resources, please reach out to our Research Services department at firstname.lastname@example.org. While some requests may be outside the scope of remote reference (say, entire genealogical searches), our reference librarians can assist with a specific information request or article assistance using one of these tools.
One may receive help by email or telephone: email@example.com or 617-536-5400
Digital Commonwealth is a non-profit collaborative organization, founded in 2006, that provides resources and services to support the creation, management, and dissemination of cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives. Massachusetts cultural institutions may sign up for free digitization services from the Boston Public Library as part of the Library for the Commonwealth program.
The BPL does not require written permission from the copyright holder to digitize yearbooks, so obtaining permission is optional, but recommended for the in-copyright volumes. There is no firm legal guidance as to who the copyright holder for yearbooks would be, but the most likely owner is the publishing school or college.
As newspapers are often owned by for-profit companies that are still in business, we are asking that any institution that wishes to digitize newspapers more recent than 1964 provide written permission from the copyright holder.
We are currently only planning to digitize from microfilm. If your newspapers are still on paper, we have a limited budget to pay for the microfilming process. That’s likely to be an extended process, however, so our first priority is newspapers that have already been microfilmed.
More information on copyright is available on the MLS Copyright Resource Guide.
We don’t currently have any plans to digitize microfilm that isn’t newspapers. That may change if sufficient demand for that is demonstrated, so stay tuned.
Individuals with BPL cards may borrow foreign language texts via ILLiad, but only libraries can request a deposit.
For example, an individual may ask for a German-language edition of The Giver on their personal ILLiad account. A library could ask, for example, for 10 German-language young adult fiction titles, 10 Japanese-language children’s books and 15 French-language adult nonfiction books, preferably history and politics.
World Language Deposits are checked out to libraries for 3 months. Borrowing libraries should check these items out as “on the fly” items for their usual loan period, provided the item will be returned by the time the deposit has to be returned.
For more information, check out the MLS Interlibrary Loan Guide.
Turnaround time varies depending on staffing and MLS delivery. It generally takes 1-3 days to collect and process the deposit. Delivery would be comparable to ComCat delivery times.