The Boston Public Library is a nexus of knowledge. Built in 1848, the library is one of the oldest municipal libraries in the United States! There’s a wealth of free stuff to do with your Boston Public Library card! Find out how you can get free programs, passes, resources, and more.
Get free and discounted Museum Passes with your Boston Public Library card!
Anyone with a valid Metro Boston Library Network library card can reserve a museum pass! To be eligible, your card must have less than ten dollars in outstanding fees. Each family can only reserve one pass per day. Some passes are only available from certain library locations! For the full rules or to reserve a pass, click here.
Below are the available museum passes. Please note that prices are marked at time of writing. They may change in the future.
Boston Harbor Islands Ferry: Enjoy one of four ferry trips! Take part in stunning wildlife, fishing, and hiking scenes. The pass provides a 2-for-1 discount for up to a family of four. Click here for further instructions on this reservation.
Boating in Boston: Enjoy a free one-hour kayak ride in one of five locations! This may be time-sensitive; call your closest branch to see if there are still coupons.
Boston Children’s Museum: One of the oldest museums in the United States! Take part in exciting educational exhibits and fun programs that simultaneously encourage play and learning. This discount is good for half-price admission with a total of four people.
Department of Conservation and Recreation pass: This entitles the bearer to free parking for a vehicle at one of the Massachusetts State Parks! For a list of Massachusetts State Parks, click here.
Harvard Museum of Natural History: Enjoy the beauty of historic exhibits and extravagant multimedia presentations! Admission: $6 per visitor; 4 visitors per pass.
Museum of Fine Arts: With over 450,000 works of art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is one of the largest museums in the United States! Admission: $10 per visitor; 2 visitors per pass.
Museum of Science: Free admission! Relax in the butterfly garden, explore Planetarium shows, engage in over 700 interactive exhibits, and much more! Up to four visitors allowed per pass.
New England Aquarium: Free admission! Love aquatic life? This is the place for you! The Aquarium protects thousands of aquatic animals. Marvel at giant octopi or greet the seals! Animal meet-and-greets require prior booking; click here or call 617-973-5206 to make a reservation! Up to four visitors allowed per pass; the pass works from September to June.
USS Constitution Museum: Free admission! Enjoy over two hundred years of voyages across several galleries and exhibits! Ship tours are available Tuesday through Sunday, so be sure to plan ahead. Up to nine visitors are allowed per pass.
Boston by Foot: Free admission to classic tours! Enjoy the freedom trail or explore the dark side of Boston! Four people allowed per pass. Click here to see tour dates and times before you book a reservation.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute: Free admission for residents under 18; discounted rate for two adults! Experience life as a senator; learn the tasks and history of the senate. Take part in simulated debates or experience the grand chamber!
Harvard Art Museums: Free admission! Enjoy absolutely stunning art with a wide range of exhibitions from across the world! Two adults and accompanying underage youth allowed per pass.
Institute of Contemporary Art: Take part in powerful activities and watch beautiful performances by some of the boldest and most exciting artists out there! $5 admission per person; two adults allowed per pass.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Here rest some of the greatest pieces of art from across the ages! Enjoy beautiful history, relax with a lovely breeze in the gardens, or savor haunting melodies. Discounted $5 pass; This pass works for four visitors on weekdays or two visitors on weekends and holidays.
John F Kennedy Library and Museum: There’s no better place to learn about president Kennedy than at this library! Whether you need help with a research project or you’re just interested in learning about one of the most influential people in the history of the United States, the John F Kennedy library is the place for you. Discounted $3 pass; admits two adults.
Larz Anderson Auto Museum: Free admission to museum and summer lawn events! The Larz Anderson Auto Museum is the oldest automobile museum in the United States! If you love to marvel at historic feats of engineering beauty, come check out the museum! This pass admits four visitors.
Masssachusetts Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries: Hike hundreds of miles of nature trails and relax at wildlife sanctuary events! Discounted $2 pass; admits four visitors. Children under two are free.
Trustees GO Pass: The Trustees is a massive, international community focused on preserving beautiful outdoors. There are over twenty five thousand acres and a hundred Trustees locations across the world!
Among the most famous of these locations is the Boston Community Gardens, an initiative to preserve and nourish some fifty community gardens! The full list of the locations can be found here. This coupon allows the holder to pay cheaper Family membership rates at any of these locations. Two adults and underage youth are admitted with this pass.
Zoo New England: Discounted rates: $9 per adult and $6 per child. Six people admitted per pass. There’s a note that some older passes may have different prices, so be sure to double-check your pass!
Stream free music, movies, shows, audiobooks, and more from your home device!
The Boston Public Library offers a wide selection of online catalogs for use with your computer, iOs, or android device! To learn more about how to access these services, click here.
Hoopla Streaming is a service that streams a wide range of movies, shows, and audiobooks! Borrow up to ten items a month through Hoopla.
RB Digital is an online streaming service that offers a wide selection of magazines and newspapers! There’s no limit to how much you can check out.
Overdrive is an absolutely massive anthology of ebooks, audiobooks, and videos! Offered by over 30,000 libraries, Overdrive has a huge variety of content.
Improve language skills with literacy classes!
The Boston Public Library also offers access to a collection of a variety of databases for language learning, research, and K-12 education. Look here for those peer-reviewed, scholarly sources for your projects! If you’re learning English, the Boston Libraries database has some resources for you!
English Language Learners can take free ESL classes in a traditional classroom environment! Classes range from the very beginning to an intermediate level. Come as you are!
If you’d like to practice English in a less professional setting, partake in ESL Conversation groups! This is a great chance to practice English accompanied by other ESL students. If you’re looking to get some real world experience with English, this is a great opportunity!
Boston Public Library also offers free tutoring services for both ESL and Adult Basic Education (ABE) groups. ESL groups generally have 2-4 students and one native English tutor; ABE groups have fewer students.
To find upcoming classes or conversation groups: open the schedule (click here) and search for ESL. You must register for classes or tutoring. To register or for more information about any of these programs, call 617-859-2446 or email [email protected].
Learn languages online with Mango Languages!
Mango Languages is a free online program provided by Boston Public Library. Mango Languages is prepared to help you learn over 70 languages, including English! Whether you’re an ESL student trying to learn English or you’d like to learn Mandarin, Mango Languages is a great free resource to check out! Log in with your Boston Public Library card or your eCard number.
Prepare for the SAT, ACT, and other tests through free online resources!
Learn-A-Test is a highly interactive online program based on official tests actively in circulation. This program can help you study and prepare for a wide variety of subjects ranging from academic tests, military tests, professional licensing, and certification tests. Learn-A-Test provides immediate feedback that is individualized to you. Log in with your Boston Public Library card or eCard number.
Explore hundreds of diverse, free events and programs at Boston Public Library!
I’m honestly speechless. I’ve researched quite a few libraries, and I’ve never seen this populous a collection of programs: dozens upon dozens of programs occur across Boston Public Library’s 25 locations nearly every day. In the span of two days there were block parties for toddlers, salt art, music appreciation, art tours, Spanish conversation classes, gentle yoga classes, yoga classes for seniors, family story time, writing classes, Chinese New Year celebrations, Anime Club, Star Wars parties, and so much more.
Click here to access the calendar of upcoming programs! Since there’s such a massive selection of programs to choose from, the search options on the side may be helpful. You can filter programs by location, type of event, or audience. Types of event pertain to the subject: Events may be focused around nature, literacy, arts, lectures, and so on. Audiences include children of various ages, adolescents, adults, seniors, college students, families, businesses, and visitors.
Interact with successful authors at the recurring Author Talk Series!
Did you ever want to be a famous writer? Did you ever dream of losing yourself in distant lands, of sneaking along ancient city streets or voyaging across vast seas? Many of us aspire to be novelists, to be able to live a life that shares our stories and dreams with the world.
For those fascinated by writing, Author Talks may fascinate you! One of Boston Public Library’s most famous recurring programs, Author Talks is exactly as it sounds: a program that features a vast array of successful writers. The possibilities are endless: some programs might feature a prominent young adult fiction author, another might feature a biographical journalist. Come learn from a multitude of minds or keep an eye out for your favorite authors. Author Talks offer book signings!
Click here to find upcoming Author Talks!
Hone your financial skills or learn to be an entrepreneur at the Bank of America Finance and Business Series!
Perhaps you’ve aspirations of starting your own business; perhaps you already have. The Finance and Business Series offers free classes for the aspiring entrepreneur! Learn business-related skills, tools, and knowledge that will help marketers and business owners succeed!
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to benefit from this class! Whether you’d like to expand your repertoire of finance tools, learn tricks from experienced finance professionals that truly want to help, or just looking to brush up on old accounting tips, this class has value for you.
Click here to find upcoming sessions!
Immerse yourself in Boston Public Library’s Local History Series!
Each chapter of this ongoing program is focused on an aspect of local history! Follow along the history of the Orphan Train Movement; find revolutionary war ancestors, marvel at wondrous geology, and so much more. Each lecture focuses on a different subject; those fascinated by history will love this program!
Click here to see the calendar for the Local History Series!
Pick up new computer and technology skills!
Need help with basic computer skills? There’s a class for that! Learn keyboarding, mouse setup, navigating a computer, and more!
Learning to code? Want to get into computer science? There are classes for that too! If you’re fascinated in anything technology, Boston Public Library offers a recurring lesson on computer science fundamentals.
Just looking for others to play games with? Teenage video game clubs offer a selection of Xbox, Wii, and PS3 games!
Click here for the upcoming calendar of technology events! Programs may be circulated in or out, so please be sure to verify that an event is coming up.
At Boston Public Library, Seniors can unwind at a Never Too Late group!
Never Too Late is a group exclusively for seniors to be able to congregate and enjoy a wide variety of events together. Programs occur every Thursday at 2:00 PM at the Central Library in Copley Square. Reduce pain and stress with chair yoga, enjoy live music performances from across the world, watch classic films from the last century, and more!
Click here for upcoming programs!
Explore a free Central Library tour!
There are tours of the central library every day of the week! Lasting approximately an hour, this tour highlights exquisite architecture of famous central library buildings alongside the treasures waiting within. Private tours and student groups may be set up.
For more information, click here.
Check out Boston Public Library’s most beautiful exhibitions!
Boston Public Library plays host to some of the most astounding public displays! Let yourself be immersed in the history of the ancient world; learn about early civilizations, ponder over wonders, or see Shakespeare in ways you’ve never pictured before! While the theme of the exhibitions at the Boston Public Library may change, the quality will not.
Click here for current exhibitions!
For the disabled, make use of the vast variety of resources!
The Boston Public Library collects a wide assortment of resources for those with disabilities! The BPL collects a wide variety of Braille Books, Braille subscriptions to New York Times, National Geographic, and Science News, audio recordings, large print, books on CD, and more! The Boston Public Library also keeps an audio file for the majority of all available digital books – this file can be downloaded for play or listened through your internet browser! If you seek help turning a print item at the library into an audio item, email [email protected]
The Boston Public Library has resources for disabled and eyesight-impaired patrons while at the library!
Need help getting around? The BPL will provide a wheelchair. Contact the information desk or speak to any security guard.
Every service desk has a free handheld magnifier that can be used while in the library. Most program rooms come equipped with assistive listening devices!
For those with language barriers that want to attend one of the Boston Public Library’s many events, language interpreters can be requested by contacting [email protected]