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Mon-Thurs: 9-9pm

Fri: 9-6pm

Sat: 9-5pm

Digital Newton

Newton Free Library Special Collections. Unavailable until further notice.




The Newton Free Library brings the community together to enjoy, explore, create, and discover. The Newton History Collection, Massachusetts Collection and Genealogy Collection make up Special Collections which exists to provide a gateway to discovering and exploring the history of the City, its residents, and the development of the Commonwealth. The collections compliment the collections of the City Archives and Historic Newton.  

The library is committed to using Special Collections to support patron research. Newton is digitizing our collections for open accessibility to the community and beyond. At the same time, we recognize the enduring importance of our physical collections. Our Public Service staff plays a vital role in preserving our unique cultural heritage, ensuring its continued care and accessibility for future generations.

Special Collections resources can be found in our general catalog here

Thousands of our items have been digitized and are available on Digital Commonwealth or Internet Archive.



Special Collections Room's three collections: The Newton [History] Collection, Massachusetts Collection and Genealogy Collection


Special Collections

The Special Collections Room is located near the southeast corner of the library's main floor.  Patrons can gain access to this locked room by showing ID to the Reference Librarians at the Public Services ASK desk.  Items in Special Collections do not circulate.  

Please be advised that the Newton Collection is a local history collection only

The Massachusetts Collection  contains material about the people and state of Massachusetts.

The Genealogy Collection contains compiled family histories from around the world; royalty, nobility and peerage information; and personal and family names by country and nationality. 


Please note: 

 Government documents for the City of Newton are not part of Special Collections. They are accessed through the  Newton City Clerk's Office and or the City Archivist.

Please click HERE for a direct link to the City Clerk and HERE for a direct link to the City Archivist



updated GjF 10/4/2019

Special Collection Guidelines

All materials in Special Collections are non-circulating.


To access materials on the open shelves in the Special Collections Room: 

Please contact the librarians at the Reference Desk in the Atrium.  You will be asked to provide some form of positive ID, which will be returned immediately to you.

      No food or drink is permitted in the Special Collections room.

      Please use pencil only. The use of pens or highlighters is not permitted.

      Computers, Digital Cameras, & Smart Phones are encouraged. 


To access Special Collections materials in the Compact Shelving area: 

This needs a form of positive ID which is given to the reference librarian and returned only after the Special Collections -  Compact Shelving material has been returned.

In order to retrieve material from our Special Collections - compact shelving area

we recommend contacting us 24  to 48 hours in advance.


[Our librarians will attempt to make reasonable accommodations for walk-ins but there may be a delay in retrieving the material]


 Patrons are asked to sit at a desk in the atrium in full view of the librarians when using material from  Special Collections -Compact Shelving.

Food, drink, pens or highlighters are not permitted.

Computers, Digital Cameras, and/or Smart Phones are encouraged. 

Most materials can be scanned and or photocopied 


N.B.  Please check to see if the Special Collections item is available on microform and or electronic format, i.e. Digital Commonwealth, or the Internet Archive before requesting an Special Collections  -  Compact Shelving item. Much of our Special Collections have been digitized.


All material in the Special Collections room must be handled with great care.

No marks may be added or erased.

No tracings or rubbings may be made without specific permission.

No books, papers, or other objects may be laid on or affixed to the material. The arrangement of archival boxes/folders must not be altered.

Patrons are allowed to view 3 books at a time and 1 box at a time.

All material must be returned to a librarian before closing time. 


Compliance with copyright is the responsibility of the user/patron for all items including digital items.  

If there is a copyright issue then the user/patron must obtain permission from the copyright holder.

If there is no outstanding copyright issue, then [The Newton Free Library] has been giving permission to the user/patron to use the item as long as they note:


“Used with permission from the collections of the Newton Free Library (MA)”  


Rev: 9/10/19 GjF

How to Find Material in the Catalog

Below is an example of a catalog record, please note the following:

1. Call number prefix N = Newton Collection item

2. Call number prefix MASS = Mass Collection item

3. Newton/Special = Compact Shelving (you will need a librarian to retrieve these items)

4. Newton/Reference = Special Collections (you can browse the Mass or N item in our Special Collection Room)

5. eConnect = a link to the digital version of the item

Special Collections Material Use Request Form

Special Collections Reference Request/