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State Library Policies

A review of State Library policies for patrons and the collections

Table of Contents

Circulation Policy

The State Library of Massachusetts is open to everyone for on-site use, however only current, permanent employees of Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branches of government in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may borrow materials or request materials through the State Library's Interlibrary Loan service. Special Collections items do not circulate.

Due to the size, age and complexity of the collection, only library staff may access the State Library stacks. Fill out a call slip to request an item from the collection and give it to the librarian to retrieve it. If necessary, materials can be put on temporary reserve to be used for further research.

Interns may borrow materials on a short term loan based on a phone call to the intern's supervisor authorizing loan activity, and at the discretion of State Library reference staff. Materials may also be borrowed using a supervisor's library card. Please note that supervisors will be responsible for all loaned materials.

Additional Resources

Special Collections Department Access Policy

Special Collections materials do not circulate and may only be consulted in the Special Collections reading room. Items will not be retrieved from secure storage after 4:30 p.m. as the regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are encouraged to allow State Library staff to prepare materials in advance for researchers.

There may be restrictions on the use of selected collection materials at the discretion of State Library staff. The fragile condition and irreplaceable nature of many items may make it necessary for the State Library to limit access to collections and individually consider each request for use. 

All researchers are asked to complete a registration form and present identification with a recent photograph and a current address to gain access to materials. By signing a registration form, researchers agree to the following rules:

1. Researchers must store loose articles of clothing, briefcases, book bags, lap top computer cases, and any other personal property not essential to their work in the wardrobe provided for this purpose. Personal property that does not fit in the closet is not permitted in the reading room. All books, papers, etc. are subject to examination upon leaving the reading room.

2. Only pencils, paper, and laptop computers may be used in the reading room. Photography (without flash) is allowed upon State Library staff approval.

3. Cell phone conversations, food, beverages, and tobacco are not permitted in the reading room.

4. Researchers are required to fill out a request card for each title requested.

5. When a microform copy, digital copy, or a facsimile edition of a manuscript or fragile book is available, a researcher will be required to consult the copy rather than the original.

6. Unless otherwise authorized, researchers may consult only one book or one box of manuscripts at a time.

7. All materials consulted must be handled with great care. Researchers handling materials carelessly will be denied further access to the collections.

  • Materials must remain on the table during use. They are not to be placed in the lap or propped against the table edge.
  • Book cradles must be used when consulting bound volumes.
  • No papers, books, or other objects may be laid on materials in use, except for book weights provided by the staff.
  • No marks are to be added to or erased from materials consulted.
  • No tracings or rubbings may be done without permission.
  • The order and arrangement of unbound materials must be preserved. Apparent irregularities should be brought to the attention of the staff.
  • When consulting some types of material, especially photographs, researchers will be required to wear gloves supplied by Special Collections staff.

All items from secure storage must be returned to the information desk by 4:45 p.m.

Requests for photocopies, digital images, and other reproductions are considered by State Library staff on a case-by-case basis. Payment for services must be received before reproductions will be made. All photocopies are performed by library staff.

Use of public computer:  Patrons in the Special Collections Department shall be allotted a maximum time limit of one hour per day. Total public computer use, including time on computers in the main library, will not exceed two hours per patron per day. No extra time will be granted.

State Library Reproduction Policy/Permissions and Use Fees

Use Fees support the collections and the programs of the State Library of Massachusetts

Additional Resources

Wireless Access Policy

The State Library of Massachusetts provides free wireless Internet access in the main reading room and public balcony for patrons who have the required hardware and software needed to use this service. By using the wireless service at the Library, the patron acknowledges that he or she is subject to and agrees to abide by the Library's Acceptable Use Policy (available at the circulation desk) and the following conditions:

  • Patrons use the wireless service at their own risk. Because the wireless network is unsecured, any information sent or received using the network may be intercepted. The State Library of Massachusetts is not responsible for any personal information that is compromised or for any damages, alterations, or interferences with a laptop's configuration or data files resulting from use of the wireless network.
  • Patrons are responsible for virus and security protection on their laptops.
  • Library staff are not permitted to handle patrons' laptops or peripheral equipment.
  • Library staff are not permitted to configure patrons' laptops or provide technical assistance with connecting to the wireless network.
  • Library staff reserves the right to disconnect a user's laptop from a power outlet at any time.
  • Printing is not available to patrons using the wireless network.
  • Due to periodic maintenance and unforeseen downtime, the Library does not guarantee that the wireless network will be available at any specific time.

Patron Conduct Policy

The State Library of Massachusetts encourages persons of all ages to use its facilities and resources for research, reference, study and reading. To this end, the Library is responsible for establishing rules of conduct in order to provide for an environment that is conducive to study, reading and research.

Enforcement of these rules will be conducted in a fair and reasonable manner. Library staff and/or security staff will intervene to stop prohibited activities and behaviors. Failure to comply with the Library's established rules, regulations, and policies could result in removal from the premises and expulsion from the Library or in arrest or prosecution. Violations could also result in the restriction and/or termination of Library privileges, including the use of Library computers and other equipment.

The following activities are inappropriate to a library setting and prohibited from the Library:

  • Engaging in any activity in violation of Federal, State, local, or other applicable law or Library policy
  • Creating a disturbance by making noise, talking loudly, or engaging in other disruptive conduct
  • Interfering with another person's right to use the Library or with the Library's staff's performance of their duties
  • Playing audio equipment so that others may hear it
  • Using cell phones. Cell phones audible ringers must be turned off
  • Verbally or physically threatening or harassing other patrons, volunteers, or staff
  • Soliciting or canvassing of any kind
  • Stealing, damaging, altering, or inappropriate use of Library property, including computer hardware and software, printers, copiers, phones, and other equipment
  • Presenting false identification to obtain a Library card or using another person's Library card without permission
  • Trespassing in non-public areas or being in the Library without permission of an authorized Library employee before or after the Library's operating hours
  • Fighting or challenging to fight, running, pushing, shoving, or throwing things
  • Gambling and group activities that are disruptive to the Library environment
  • Littering
  • Smoking, chewing, and other tobacco use in Library facilities
  • Being under the influence of illegal drugs and selling, using or possessing illegal drugs or selling alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana
  • Entering the Library barefooted, without a shirt, with offensive body odor or personal hygiene, or being otherwise attired so as to be disruptive to the Library environment
  • Bringing in garbage, articles with a foul odor, or articles which, alone or in their aggregate, impede the use of the Library by other users
  • Storing items in the Library
  • Lying down or sleeping on any floor, couch, table, or seat in the Library, or by blocking aisles, exits, or entrances by sitting or lying down in them
  • Neglecting to provide proper supervision of children
  • Bringing animals into the Library except those needed to assist persons with disabilities.

All bags and other articles are subject to inspection by security and other authorized personnel. The Library reserves the right to limit the size and number of items brought into the Library.



Main Library (617) 727-2590

Open M-F 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Special Collections Department (617) 727-2595

Open M-F 9 a.m.–5 p.m.


(617) 727-9730


Main Library
Massachusetts State House
Room 341
Boston, MA 02133
Special Collections Department
Massachusetts State House
Room 55
Boston, MA 02133