Request or Renew

You may request and reserve books via Athena, the Athenæum’s online catalog. When you are looking at a record for a book, click on “Make a Request” from the list to the right where you will also see the options to print, email, etc. You will be prompted to enter your last name exactly as it appears on your membership card (including any suffixes like Jr, III, etc.), along with your ID number, which is the short number on the front of your card. The next page will show the book details as well as a comment box in which you may ask that the book be mailed or leave special instructions. You will have to enter your ID number again.

Please be aware that these online requests are automatically delivered to the Circulation Desk each morning. If you need the book on the same day, we advise you to call either Circulation 617-227-0270 x 301 or Reference  617-720-7658.

Periodicals may be requested; however, keep in mind that bound periodicals must be read in the library. If you need help locating materials in the building, see these instructions or ask a librarian.


Renewing Books

  • You may renew books online, one time only. Log into your account in Athena. You can see what you have checked out and request a renewal.
  • You may also renew books over the phone by calling the Circulation Desk, 617-227-0270 x 301. 
  • Books stay “new” for at least six months. 
  • New books may be checked out for 14 days and renewed again, as long as no other member has requested a hold on them in the interim. After six months, books may be taken out for 60 days. The renewal process is the same as for 14-day books.

Overdue or Lost Books

If a book is overdue for more than 30 days, the system will automatically mark the book “lost” and the member will be assessed a processing fee as well as the cost to replace the book at its current market value.


Book Mailing Service

A book mailing service is provided for the benefit of Athenæum members. Book requests may be placed with the Circulation or Reference Department by phone, by email, or by using the “Request” function in Athena.  Regulations are the same as for books checked out at the Circulation Desk, with the exception that oversized books and books in fragile condition are not mailed. Interlibrary loan books cannot be mailed to members. Materials from the Special Collections do not circulate and are never mailed.



Outbound charges for mailing books are not being assessed now! The borrower is responsible for postage on all packages returned.


Responsibility for the Books

The Athenæum is responsible for the books mailed to our readers until the books reach their destination:  replacement costs for books lost en route to the reader will be assumed by the Athenæum. Replacement costs for books damaged while in the hands of the borrower or lost en route to the Athenæum will be charged to the borrower.


Wrapping of Books Sent by Mail   

Books sent by mail are wrapped in corrugated cardboard and brown paper, then sealed with adhesive tape. Return labels are provided. When returning books, readers are requested to use the same or equivalent packaging material; padded envelopes (jiffy bags) are not considered sufficient protection in returning books.