Boston Public Library launching ‘to go’ service for book pickups

“BPL to Go” will begin June 22 at five library system branches.

People were sparse at Copley Square and the Boston Public Library Thursday. Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

The Boston Public Library announced this week it is launching a program that will allow library patrons to pick up books and other library materials starting later this month.

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Starting June 22, the program, “BPL to Go,” will allow library card holders to order books, DVDs, and CDs from the library by placing hold requests for materials through, the BPL mobile app, or by calling the main number at 617-536-5400.

Officials said the pilot program for resuming physical library services amid the coronavirus pandemic will start with patrons being able to pick up their requested items at five library branches: Central Library in Copley Square, the Codman Square Branch, the East Boston Branch, the Jamaica Plain Branch, and the Mattapan Branch. But the program will be expanded through the library system in the following weeks, according to BPL.


“We are so glad to return this first in-person service to our patrons, to complement the online services we have rolled out since we closed in March,” David Leonard, BPL president, said in a statement. “For several weeks, we have been planning how to safely return to in-person service; after evaluating recommendations from experts and learning from peer libraries across the country, we have a program that will allow us to place some of our collections back into circulation.”

According to the library, once a patron’s request is ready to be picked up, they will be notified and asked to schedule a time to collect it.


“Patrons will not be able to pick up items before they are notified they are ready,” the BPL statement on the program reads. “At the branches, once notified and scheduled, patrons will arrive at the branch but will remain outside to call the branch phone number, posted on the door, to let staff know they have arrived. Library staff will retrieve patrons’ items and safely deliver them to patrons.”

The library is also beginning to accept books and other physical materials for returns. Any fines accrued on books checked out prior to the shutdown of the system due to COVID-19 have been waived until September 1.


The library said when items are returned they will be quarantined for 72 hours out of concern for COVID-19 before they are processed by staff.

Libraries were allowed by state officials to begin curbside pickup or delivery operations on May 25. Under the state’s second phase of reopening, which began Monday, libraries are allowed to add “soft openings and additional services,” such as some browsing inside buildings with restrictions.

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