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Boston College Libraries

Library Overview

The Honorable John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections houses Boston College's rare books, special collections and archives. It is located in the magnificently appointed English collegiate-style Bapst Library Building, winner of Interiors magazine's Annual Award for Restoration (1988). The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes, some 15,000,000 manuscripts, and important collections of architectural records, maps, art works, newspapers, photographs, films, prints, artifacts, and ephemera. These materials are housed in the climate-controlled, secure environment of Burns either because of their rarity or because of their importance as part of a special collection. While treated with special care, these resources are available for use to all qualified students, faculty, and researchers. Visitors are always welcome, and the library features an attractive and ambitious exhibits program.

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; Jesuitana; fine print; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925–1975; Boston history; Caribbeana, especially Jamaican studies; Balkan studies; and Congressional archives. It has also won acclaim for its significant holdings in the fields of nursing, American detective fiction, Thomas Merton, Japanese prints, colonial and early republic Protestantism, and banking.

The library is named in memory of the Honorable John. J. Burns (1901–1957), one of Boston College's most successful and respected alumni. A 1921 graduate of Boston College, John Burns attended Harvard Law School, where he excelled as a student and as a faculty member, rising to the rank of full professor in five years. In 1931, at the age of 29, he became the youngest person ever appointed to the Superior Court of Massachusetts.

Boston College Libraries
The John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Ave.
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467
(617) 552-3282 (t)
(617) 552-2465 (f)