Research Library resources & services

Rows of shelves in the Research Library stacks are full of brightly colored books.

Our collection

Search our online catalog of 55,000+ items about blindness and deafblindness along with bibliographies and other selected high-quality resources.

A sign reading S.P. Hayes Research Library on a set of filing cabinets with a stack of books.

Ask a librarian

Skilled librarians are glad to help with your questions about blindness and deafblindness, blindness and deafblindness education and the history of Perkins. 

A desktop computer has research materials beside it, one book open on the desk.

Online resources

Learn about online resources, guides, and other materials from the Research Library. These include materials for practitioners in the field, families, and the general community.

Wooden filing cabinets in the Research Library hold a display of books. Additional shelves are visible in the background.

For practitioners

Explore our resources for teachers and other practitioners, sharing material about best practices and current needs. 

An empty table waiting to be filled with research materials sits in front of leaded glass windows.

For school projects

We can help K-12 students with projects like National History Day. Ask us about Laura Bridgman, Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller, braille or other historical topics. 

Research materials on a table - a stack of books, an open book, and a gray container for archival folders.

For researchers

Our collection documents the history of blindness and deafblindness education in collaboration with the Perkins Archives. 

we’re here to assist

Frequently asked questions

We are glad to help anyone interested in the fields of blindness or deafblindness. We welcome everyone—students, researchers, teachers, practitioners, people learning to be teachers or practitioners, members of the community and people associated with other organizations for the blind or deafblind. 

We regularly answer questions about resources for children (and adults) who are blind or deafblind, materials for teachers and professionals in the field, as well as historical questions about Perkins and education for children who are blind or deafblind.

We can answer most questions by email or over the phone. Get in touch with the Research Library through our contact form.

If you have a question, it helps us to know:

  • Where you are located (state, province, or country)
  • The type of resources you would find most helpful (peer reviewed research, personal experiences, historical information, etc.)
  • If asking for materials about an educational topic, the age range you are focusing on.
  • Any accessibility needs or other notes that may affect what materials will be useful to you.

The Research Library collects books, journals, articles, dissertations, conference reports, pamphlets, clippings and news items, video recordings and other multimedia materials, along with internet-based information. All of these are cataloged in the Research Library’s online catalog.

Most materials are in print, but we are glad to see what accessible options exist for a particular item – please get in touch and let us know what you’re interested in.

We collect comprehensively in the following areas:

  • Education for children who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired (including with multiple disabilities) designed for teachers, parents, schools and communities
  • Material designed for teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility instructors and other professionals working in the fields we cover
  • Perkins history and key figures in our fields, such as histories, biographies and profiles
  • Biographies, memoirs or other published writings by Perkins alumni or staff

We collect representative material in some areas:

  • Fictional works, biographies and memoirs, or juvenile materials with significant focus on people who are blind, deafblind or visually impaired
  • Information about or resources for assistive technology or assistive devices
  • News items dealing with contemporary views of blindness, deafblindness, visual impairment, multiple disabilities or disabilities in general
  • General educational materials (such as curriculum design, classroom management, behavior) of use to teachers at Perkins
  • Local and regional history relevant to Perkins or individuals associated with Perkins

We do not normally collect medical resources, kits or other physical educational tools, materials used directly by students (textbooks, workbooks, classroom aids) or testing forms and kits for providing different assessments.

Please see our Hayes Research Library Policies document for the complete list.

Most Research Library materials are in print. Please let us know if you need an accessible format and we are glad to see what options are available for a particular title. 

The Research Library has access to electronic databases with relevant journals for Perkins staff. For other questions, please contact us and we’ll let you know about the best access options for your questions. 

Due to technical limitations relating to e-books in libraries, we do not currently collect electronic versions of texts, but we can help you figure out what other libraries (including the Perkins Library) may have access. 

We prefer email—it’s the best way to get all the details of your question in one place. You can email us at [email protected]. Please let us know your questions, what kind of information you’re looking for and if you have a specific deadline. 

If you need to send a snail mail letter, please make sure you address it to the Research Library. There are several libraries on campus, and letters that don’t include “Research Library” may not get to us. 

Our mailing address is:

Research Library
Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon St.
Watertown, MA

Visits to the Research Library are by appointment only. Our page on visiting the Research Library has all the details.

Our books and materials only circulate to Perkins staff. 

We are glad to provide additional information about items in our collection, such as the table of contents or checking to see if a book covers a topic. We can also scan a limited amount of material in keeping with our scanning policies.

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’re glad to help.

Due to our unique collection, we use specialized subject headings. Additional help on searching the catalog is available.

Items in our collection only circulate to Perkins staff. We are able to scan material for other users in keeping with our Distance Services policies, or share access through a visit to the Research Library (by appointment only.)

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. The amount of information we have about former students and staff also varies a great deal.

The best way to start is to email us with the information you have and the information you are looking for. Helpful details to include are dates, the name they used while here and any known interests. We’ll get back to you with how we can help in your specific case.

Samuel Perkins Hayes was a Perkins psychologist who pioneered psychological testing of students who are blind. He also led research projects at Perkins for many years. The Research Library is named in his honor. 

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 those who have reading disabilities in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Have a question?

Reach us at [email protected] and 617-972-7250.