Frequently Asked Questions

Browse our FAQs by broad categories or use the list of questions below:

Broad Subject Categories

Hours, Location & Facts

Beginning the Library Research Process

Finding Books

Finding Journals

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Print, Scan, Photocopy

Electronic Resources and Access


BU E-Mail


Where is the library located?

The Alumni Medical Library is located at 72 East Concord Street on the Boston University Medical Campus. For information on how to get to the Library, please refer to the maps below or contact the Reference Desk at (617) 358-4810, or refquest@bu.edu, Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. See our Directions page for information on how to get here.

Can I use the Medical Library if I’m not part of Boston University or the Boston Medical Center?

Library Access Policy

Due to Covid-19, the Alumni Medical Library (L-12) is open to current BU students, faculty, and staff only. See here for current hours

The L-11 Testing Center and L-1110 classroom will be open as student study space whenever exams and classes are not scheduled. 

Face coverings are required at all times and no food is allowed. Beverages are allowed only if a straw is used under the face covering. 

Library Photography and Filming Policy

Prior approval by the Communications Office is required in advance of any photography or filming occurring in the Alumni Medical Library. No unauthorized photography or filming is allowed in the Alumni Medical Library.

Please contact the Communications Office as early as possible since scheduling and coordinating appointments and locations requires advanced planning. Please contact Gina DiGravio, Media Relations Manager, at (617) 638-8480, or

The Medical Campus Communications Office will evaluate all requests and determine whether or not a request is approved. The Communications Office will review with the requestor the BU Medical Campus Policies and Procedures. The Communications Office will also determine whether or not the Alumni Medical Library is the most appropriate location on campus for a photography or filming need.

If a request is approved, the Communications Office will coordinate a date, time, and location with the Alumni Medical Library.

What forms of payment does the library accept?

Payment options include:

  • Check
  • Cash (exact amount only, we CANNOT make change)
  • Boston University departmental billing numbers
  • BMC Harrison Ave. campus or East Newton St. campus departmental account numbers accompanied by a purchase order
  • Credit Cards are NOT accepted

Can I renew my materials using the Library Catalog?

Yes. Sign into the Library catalog (look for the ‘Sign In’ link in the upper right corner) using your BU ID and Kerberos password to see materials you have checked out and renew items that are coming due. Note that if another user has placed a ‘hold’ on an item, it cannot be renewed.

What kinds of workshops or training sessions are offered by the library?

The Library offers a variety of training sessions on Library Resources each semester. To set up a workshop or a one-on-one training session, contact The Reference Desk at (617) 358-4810 or refquest@bu.edu.

Use this link to view the Alumni Medical Library’s Tutorials.

Boston University Information Services & Technology also offers several tutorials relating to their computing services.

I’m looking for information on a specific topic. Where do I begin?

There are many resources which could provide useful information on any topic, but we usually recommend that you start with two basic sources — books or journal literature. To find books on your topic, do a subject search in the Library Catalog to identify books located at BU libraries. To locate journal literature, MEDLINE is usually the first database of biomedical journal literature that we recommend using.

Talk with a Reference Librarian at refquest@bu.edu or (617) 358-4810 before beginning your research. He or she will recommend resources and provide guidance and assistance in using these resources effectively.

How do I check if BU owns a specific book?

Use the Library Catalog to determine whether a specific book is owned by the Alumni Medical Library. In the Library Catalog, search for the book’s title, author, or subject. The bibliographic record will indicate which BU library owns the book, and whether it is checked out or available on the shelves. Look for “Medical” on the book record to identify books that are owned by the Alumni Medical Library.

Will the Library purchase a particular book or journal?

Make a book or journal purchase recommendation using this form.

BUMC students, faculty and staff are invited to submit book and journal purchase requests. Book and journal subscription purchases are made based on several criteria including: an evaluation of the requested material’s subject scope, indexing, and cost; library collection development policies; Interlibrary Loan data; analysis of the overall collection; and the availability of funds. Book requests are reviewed on a weekly basis and may be submitted at any time. Journal requests are reviewed annually and should be submitted prior to July 1 to be considered for the next calendar year subscription. For additional information about purchase requests, please contact a reference librarian at refquest@bu.edu or (617) 358-4810.

I can’t find the book/journal that I need. According to the Library Catalog, the item isn’t checked out and should be on the shelves. What can I do?

If you can’t find an item on the shelves, come to the Circulation Desk and let us know. We can check to be sure the item isn’t misshelved, missing, etc. If we can’t find it, please fill out the Missing Item Form so that we can search for the missing material, update the Library Catalog record, and replace the missing item if necessary. When you fill out the Missing Item Form, library staff begin searching for the material. If it isn’t found within one week, we’ll do a free interlibrary loan for you.

Use this link for information on other Library Catalogs that can be used to locate books.

What can I do if the book I want is already checked out to another patron?

Contact the Circulation Desk at (617) 358-4902 and ask to have the book placed on “hold”. When it is returned, library staff will contact you, and you can then check out the book.

The book that I have checked out is due back soon. Is there any way I can keep it longer? How can I renew a book?

To renew a book:

You can fill out our Book Renewal Form.

Or you can renew books through the Library Catalog:

  • Go to the Library Catalog at BU Libraries Search
  • Click on the Sign In link, located in the upper right corner of the page.
  • Sign in with your BU ID and password, then click on “My Account” to renew an item.

Books can also be renewed in person at the Alumni Medical Library, or by telephone by contacting the Circulation Desk at (617) 358-4902.

What fines do you charge for overdue books? What about blocked records?

What are my options for getting a book that isn’t owned by the Medical Library?

There are several options for obtaining books not owned by the Alumni Medical Library:

  • If you want to go to another Boston University library and check out the book yourself, you can use BU’s Library Catalog to determine if the book is owned by another BU library.
  • Another option is to order an item via interlibrary loan. Submit your ILL request using our Order Articles and Books form.
  • You can also check WorldCat to find a library where your book may be held, and visit that library in person to access it. Please note that if you find the book in a library that is not a member of the BLC, you most likely will not be able to check it out.

I am looking for a specific journal; how do I know if BU owns this title?

Use the Library Catalog to determine whether any of the BU libraries owns a particular journal title. In the Library Catalog, do a “title” search for the name of the journal. Be sure to verify that library holdings include the volume and year for which you are looking.

Do you have a listing of all of your journals?

Because our journal holdings records are updated frequently, we do not produce a list of journal titles. Instead, all of our journal holdings are included in the Library Catalog. Use the Library Catalog to do a “title” search for the name of the journal for which you are looking.

If you need to find a listing of journals by subject, you can also use the Library Catalog. For example, if you want to know what journal titles we subscribe to on dermatology, you can do a “subject” search for dermatology in the Library Catalog. Then use “Limit/Sort Search” to select for “serials” to see a list of journal titles.

You can also check the Medical Library’s database of over 7,000 electronic journals of particular relevance to the medical campus.

How & where are your journals shelved?

Most of our journal collections are electronic and can be accessed online. The Medical Library’s print journal collection, containing historical volumes and titles not available online, is stored offsite. Please submit a request for article(s) you need using the Order Articles and Books form. There is no charge for this service.

A limited number of current, unbound print journals are stored in the back room on the 12th floor of the library.

The Library Catalog indicates which journal years and volumes are current or bound, as well as which volumes are owned by particular BU libraries. ‘Lacks’ notes indicate missing volumes or issues. In the case of current journals, you can ask for the issue you need at the circulation desk.

Can I take a journal out of the library?

Journals do not normally circulate outside of the Library. Special permission to borrow a journal volume may be granted, however, if the journal volume is needed for slides or photographic reproduction. Contact Circlulation/Access Services at (617) 358-4902 or medcirc@bu.edu.

What are my options for getting a journal that isn’t owned by the Medical Library?

There are several options for obtaining journals not owned by the Alumni Medical Library:

If you have time to go to another Boston University library, you can use Library Catalog to determine if the journal is owned by another BU library. You can also use WorldCat Discovery to determine whether any of the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) member libraries hold the journal. If so, you may visit these libraries with a BLC card and view or copy the article you need.

If no BLC libraries own the journal, another option is to order an article from that journal via interlibrary loan. Submit your ILL request at the Circulation Desk or over the Web using our Order Articles and Books form.

You can also check WorldCat to find a library where the journal may be held. Please note that if you find the journal in a library that is not a member of the BLC, you will have to check the rules of that library regarding visitors and make arrangements to go there in person to read or copy the article you need.

What is interlibrary loan and how does it work?

The Medical Library has cooperative sharing agreements with thousands of libraries around the country. Interlibrary loan, or ILL, is a process by which libraries lend materials to each other. When you need a book, book chapter or journal article, you request an ILL, and our Interlibrary loan staff make arrangements to have the materials sent here from any one of thousands of libraries. We first attempt to find a library in the Boston area with which we share materials regularly. If the item isn’t owned locally, we’ll then attempt to find it within New England, Northeastern U.S., and so on.

ILL requests should be submitted using the Order Articles and Books form.

ILLs may be picked up at the Library Circulation Desk, Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm. After 6:00pm and on weekends, please check with the Circulation Desk to make sure a full-time staff member will be available to assist you with your ILL pick up.

Who is eligible to use the library’s interlibrary loan service?

The Alumni Medical Library will obtain interlibrary loans for students, faculty and staff of the Boston University Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Public Health, and the Boston Medical Center only.

If you are faculty, staff or a student of any of the schools on the BU Charles River campus, please request your interlibrary loans through the Mugar Library.

If you are not affiliated with Boston University or any other university or institution, your local public library may have an interlibrary loan service available to you.

I ordered a book/journal via interlibrary loan. Can I have the item sent directly to me instead of having to pick it up at the library?

Most libraries do not do third party lending. In other words, libraries will loan materials to other libraries, but not directly to their patrons.

When you request a book via interlibrary loan, the book is actually loaned to the Medical Library, and we in turn lend it to you. Therefore, you must come to the Medical Library to pick up the book.

If you request a journal article or book chapter through interlibrary loan, it is also sent to the Medical Library on your behalf. If you are paying with a check or cash (exact change only), you’ll need to come to the library to pick up and pay for the article. If you’re paying with a Department Billing account or P.O. number, you can give us your address and we’ll email the article to you when it arrives. If a journal article or book chapter is available at no charge, we will also email it to you.

For more information, contact ILL/Access Services at (617) 358-2352 or illmed@bu.edu.

How do I print/scan/make copies in the Medical Library?

The Medical Library uses BU’s MyPrint system. BUSM, BUGMS, BUSDM and BUSPH students are allocated 500 sheets per semester. Print allocations will be automatically added to student accounts, and can be accessed via BU ID. BU faculty and staff receive 100 pages per semester. See the library’s MyPrint page for more information.

Photocopy machines are available in the BUMC Library on the 11th, 12th and 13th floors for patron use during all regular library hours. Photocopy machines use the BU MyPrint system and do not accept cash. Library users without BU IDs may use the Library scanners to make digital copies, which can be saved to a portable drive or emailed.

I can’t get into the ACP Medicine or STAT!-Ref electronic textbook collections. What is the problem?

If you are locked-out of STAT!-Ref or ACP Medicine, there are two possible reasons. First, you could be locked out simply because the programs have reached their maximum capacity of simultaneous users. ACP Medicine is limited to 9 simultaneous users, while STAT!-Ref is restricted to 15 simultaneous users. If you are attempting to login to either electronic textbook during times of heaviest usage, you may have to wait and try again in a few minutes.

The second reason you could be locked out of AccessMedicine or STAT!-Ref is because the systems may not recognize your computer as being a valid part of the Boston University Medical Center network. Because of licensing agreements with the software producers, access to these electronic textbooks is restricted to the following IP addresses (an Internet Protocol address identifies your machine’s location on the Internet):

  • Boston University Medical Campus and Charles River Campus IP addresses
  • Boston Medical Center IP addresses
  • Any BUMC or BMC user’s IP recognized by BU’s EZ Proxy server. You must have a valid BU login name and Kerberos password to access the Library’s electronic resources.

Faculty, staff and students of the Boston University Medical Center can use ACP Medicine or STAT!-Ref via the Web from computers located anywhere on the Boston University Medical Center campus or from home and other remote locations by connecting to resources using your BU username and Kerberos Password.

What are the Computer Lab hours?

Does the Library have wireless networking and/or Internet connections or Ethernet ports for laptop computing?

The library has Ethernet ports/Internet connections for laptop computing. The Ethernet ports are located on the 12th floor, against the wall opposite the Reference Desk. Wireless networking is also available in the Library.

Do you offer general computing classes?

The Medical Library does not offer general computing classes (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.). The Office of Information Technology on the Charles River campus offers general applications training. Click here for IS&T’s training schedule.

Online training for Microsoft Office (Access, Excel, Powerpoint & Word), graphic design and web publishing software is available to staff only, through Microsoft E-learning.

Who is eligible for BU Email accounts?

Faculty, staff and students of the Boston University Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine and Public Health are eligible to apply for BU email accounts. Click here for more information about BU email.  Faculty and staff who which to obtain a BU email should have their department go through HR.  Students should contact the Charles River IS&T (617-353-HELP).

Faculty and staff of the Boston Medical Center Harrison Avenue and East Newton Street campuses are usually eligible for a BU Username and Kerberos password. BMC faculty and staff can use their BU login and Kerberos passwords to access Library resources such as electronic textbooks and journals, or bibliographic databases. Click here for detailed instructions for BMC faculty and staff who want to apply for BU username and Kerberos passwords.

If you are unsure of your eligibility for an email account or Kerberos password, contact:

  • BUMC IT by phone: (617) 358-1111 or email

How do I register for a BU email account?

Most faculty, staff and students will receive instructions on creating a BU ID and Kerberos password during orientation. For members of other groups, learn more about registering for a BU e-mail account on the Information Services & Technology page.

For more information on your BU email account, please visit the BU Email page.

Can I access my BU e-mail from off-campus?

BU e-mail can be accessed via the Web through the BU Webmail page.

For more information on using computing resources off-campus visit the Remote Access page.

Configuring e-mail on my computer: How can I set up client e-mail software on my computer to retrieve e-mail from the BU server?

See the Desktop Clients page for instructions on using Mac Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, Pine and Entourage desktop e-mail interfaces.

Can I forward all of my e-mail messages to another e-mail account?

Use the instructions on this page to forward your BU e-mail to another e-mail system.

Since BMC employees are not eligible for BU e-mail accounts, what are our e-mail options?

Boston University offers e-mail accounts to faculty, staff and students of Boston University only. Boston Medical Center affiliates are not usually eligible for BU accounts. However, if your position requires you to directly interface with BU or access BU resources, you may be eligible. Please contact BUMC IT  at (617) 358-1111 or by email for more information.

You can also subscribe to BMC e-mail, which is sponsored by the BMC Information Services Department. To register for a BMC e-mail account, contact the Information Services help desk at 617-414-4500.

To use your BMC e-mail account, go to the following URL: http://mail.bmc.org

I’ll be away from my e-mail for a while. How can I set up an automatic reply so that people who send me messages will know that I’m away?

Go to the Auto-Reply page for detailed instructions on setting up “vacation” responses.

After you have returned from vacation, please be sure to turn off the automatic message!

What resources are available via mobile device?

Use your phone or handheld device to:

  • Browse subject guides to electronic resources
  • Search e-journal, e-book and database collections
  • Find information on Library departments & staff
  • Search select content from the Library website

Find free clinical software for your device.

For questions or feedback regarding mobile applications, contact Reference and Education Services at (617) 358-4810 or refquest@bu.edu.

Have a question that isn’t answered here?

Contact a Reference Librarian at (617) 358-4810 or refquest@bu.edu for additional information. You can also contact the Circulation Desk at (617) 358-4902, or the Library’s Administrative Office at (617) 358-2350 for additional information about library facts and services.