Who can use the library?
The library is open to anyone interested in the fields of blindness and deafblindness. We welcome students, researchers, teachers, people learning to be teachers, members of the community, and people associated with other organizations for the blind or deafblind.
We can answer many questions by email or over the phone, but visiting is also possible.
What kinds of questions can you help with?
We focus on material about blindness and blindness education as well as deafblindness and multiple disabilities, as well as educational practices, the history of Perkins, and much more. Our Research Library services page has much more detail about the questions we can answer and ways we can help with your research needs and questions.
How do I find out if you have a particular item?
Our catalog has a complete record of all the items in our collection, including individually indexed articles from selected relevant journals. You are welcome to search our online catalog yourself, but if you have trouble finding what you’re looking for, we’d be glad to help. Due to our unique collection, we use specialized subject headings. Additional help on searching the catalog is available.
How much does the library cost to use?
Library services, including reference help, are free. A per page fee will be assessed for extensive photocopying of documents.
Can you help me with my school project?
View the School Project section of our Resources page for more information about the resources we’d love to share with you about Laura Bridgman, Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller, the history of Perkins, and other related topics (like braille and other writing systems for the blind).
Read about visiting the Research Library and Archives for details about arranging a research visit.
If you’d just like to visit the school, the Perkins Museum in the Howe Building is a free museum with tactile displays, audio recordings, and images and items from throughout the school’s history. Free tours are also available for those 10 and up with advance notice. View more information on tours, maps and directions.
I’m interested in information about a former student or staff member at Perkins.
It’s important to us to respect the privacy of former students and staff at Perkins. The information we can share depends on many different factors, and the amount of information we have about former students and staff also varies a great deal.
The best way to start is an email us with as much information as you have and the information you are looking for. Helpful information includes dates, the name they used while here, and any known interests. We’ll get back to you with what the next steps are, and how we can help in your specific case.
Where is the Research Library?
We are located in the Howe Building, the large building (with the big bell tower) at the center of campus.
Where are the Archives?
Archives materials are stored elsewhere in the building. Materials are brought up to the Research Library when researchers use them. View more information about our guidelines for visiting.
Why do I need to make an appointment?
Visitors in our building must be escorted throughout their visit. We have a very small staff (the Research Librarian, the Archivist, and the Research Library and Archives Assistant), and we sometimes have meetings, commitments, or other researchers already visiting. Making an appointment means we will be ready and able to help you while you’re here.
Who was Samuel P. Hayes?
Samuel Perkins Hayes was a Perkins psychologist who pioneered psychological testing of students who are blind.
Are you the same thing as the Braille and Talking Book Library?
We’re two different parts of Perkins, and we are in two entirely different buildings.
The Perkins Library (previously called the Braille and Talking Book Library) provides a number of services to those who are blind, visually impaired people or who have reading disabilities in Massachusetts and sometimes elsewhere.
You can learn more about the history of the Research Library through our timeline.