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John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections

Notice to Burns Library Researchers & Visitors

Due to a restoration project, the Burns Library's Ford Tower entrance is closed from May 19th through October 2015. For the duration of this project, Burns Library visitors and researchers are asked to enter Burns through the Bapst Fine Arts Library on the opposite side of the building.  Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience. If you have any questions, contact the Burns Library Reading Room at 617-552-4861 or​

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives. To learn more about specific holdings in Burns, click on the collection listings below.

You can also connect with the Burns Library online by viewing the Burns Library’s Flickr site, subscribing to the Burns Library’s Blog or liking the Burns Library’s Facebook page. The Burns Library’s digital collections are among the listings at

Access to the Library
The Burns Library is a non-circulating library and all research is done in the library. If you're interested in materials at the Burns Library, call us (617-552-4861), or send us an email ( so we can assist with your research.For more information on how to do research with Burns materials, visit the Burns Research Guide at

Library Hours; Map and Directions

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To inquire about accessibility, please contact the Burns Library Reading Room during the Burns Library’s open hours at 617-552-4861 or

Burns Library Collections

» Digital Collections
» Irish Music Center 
   (Irish Music Center services, access and contact info)
» Manuscripts
» Rare Books
» Special Collections
» University Archives

Programs and Services

» Assistance
» Visiting Scholar
» Records Management/University Archives

The Burns Library maintains an ongoing schedule of physical and virtual exhibits highlighting the holdings of Archives and Special Collections.

Visitors to the university can learn more about the Library, its collections, and its exhibits by taking part in a guided tour. Tours are available for individuals and small groups of the Boston College community, area schools and libraries, and the general public. Those wishing to tour the Burns are strongly encouraged to call in advance to make necessary arrangements. The main office of the Library can be reached at 617-552-4861.

The Honorable John J. Burns Library is located in the  English collegiate style Bapst Library Building off Commonwealth Avenue.

» Contact Staff

» Request Help

» Burns Research Guide

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» View our blog

Illuminating Stained Glass: A Self-Guided Tour of the Decorative Glass of the Bapst and Burns Libraries (2013) contains information about and maps of the stained-glass windows found throughout the Bapst building.