BPL eCard and JSTOR Tutorial

Any Massachusetts resident can sign up for a card at the Boston Public Library, and you can sign up for an eCard without even taking the train into Boston. A BPL eCard gives you access to many of the BPL's electronic resources, including JSTOR and their eBook collection on OverDrive.

JSTOR is short for Journal STORage, and the database gives you access to articles from journals on a variety of subjects. To get started searching JSTOR, you'll need to sign up for a BPL eCard unless you already have a library card at the BPL.
  • Click on this link to go straight to BPL's page about eCards. If you're starting from the BPL's home page, go up to the Quick Links menu at the top of the page and choose "eCards." This is where you'll find information about how the card works and what you can do with it.
  • Click on the link for the registration form, which will open up in a new window. To register, you'll need to affirm that you live in Massachusetts, enter contact information including your email address, and choose a PIN.

  • You will receive your eCard number in an email. Keep this email and remember the PIN you chose, because these are the two numbers you need to access the BPL's electronic resources.
 Now that you have an eCard, check out the databases you can access.
  • Head back over to bpl.org and tap "electronic resources" in the gray bar near the top of the page. In the drop down menu, choose "Resources by Subject" to browse the resources available online through the BPL on a given subject. When prompted to sign in, use your eCard number and PIN.

  • For OverDrive, head over to the OverDrive app, add BPL as one of your libraries, and sign in with your eCard number and PIN.
If you already know you want to look in JSTOR:
  • In the "electronic resources" drop down menu, choose "A-Z list of resources" and scroll down to the link for JSTOR.
  • When you click on the link, you'll be asked for your eCard number and PIN, then taken to JSTOR.

  • On the homepage, you have a few options. You can either start searching with keywords or go to the Advanced Search.

  • In Advanced Search, enter your keywords. Check out the options in the drop down menus for ways to narrow down your search. You want to make sure that "Include only content I can access" is checked, and you may want to choose only certain types of items or set a range of dates for JSTOR to look at. Though it may be tempting to choose a discipline to search within, leave that section alone - you'll get better results.

  • Advanced Search is a very useful way to narrow down your results to a manageable number. Notice that you can save article citations right from the list of articles, and that you can look at the article in a few different ways - a summary to help you decide if it will be useful, scans of the article as it appeared in the original journal, or a PDF you can view and download.

  • If searching JSTOR still seems intimidating, never fear. Try some of the videos in the Help section. "Searching JSTOR" and "Advanced Searching on JSTOR: Tips for Constructing Search Statements" are both good places to start.

  • Of course, you can always visit the library before or after school to talk to Ms. Charpentier about searching in this or other databases, or talk to your teacher about good keywords to help you get at your topic.