Using the Library

Our circulating library offers five galleried floors of over half a million books, from works published in the 1800’s to current bestsellers. Now with more reading nooks, cozy seating, and digital access, we invite you to find a comfortable leather chair, linger for a day and enjoy the unparalleled views of the Granary Burial Ground and Boston’s skyline.

Reference librarians are always happy to help members and visitors, whether you are researching an extensive scholarly project, learning how to use our online catalog, curious about an obscure fact, or looking for a cozy mystery to read over the weekend.

Library FAQ

How do I join a discussion group?

A comprehensive list of discussion groups and request to join  click here

What is the drum?

The drum consists of 10 floors of book storage and open for browsing and borrowing. It was an innovative storage solution which allowed the Athenaeum to expand its collection. 

How many books may I check out at a time, and for how long?

Six books may be checked out at at a time and can be borrowed for up to 60 days. New books are 14-day loans and are marked as such. You can extend the loan if there is no waiting list. Just contact Circulation. Call the circulation or renew through the catalog. 

Where do I find the catalog?

Computers for checking the catalog are located on floors 1- 4, the basement and sub-basement.

Do you mail books?
How do I print at the Athenaeum?

Instructions for printing onsite can be found here

I need computer access, where should I go?

Computers are available on floors 2 and 4. All files saved to these computers are erased each day. Files may be printed (black & white only) at 10 cents per page. See a reference librarian for help.

Do you have scanners and copiers?

Scanners and copiers are on the second floor. Books and other materials may be copied using a black and white photocopier with a book handler for 25 cents per page. Ask a reference librarian for help with fragile books.

How do I read something on Microfilm?

Microfilm can be read using the microfilm reader that saves to USB drive or can print to a printer. See instructions or ask a reference librarian for help.