Astronomical Institutions (AI) Collection: contains historical publications, papers, and objects created by observatories worldwide.
- Along with the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, Wolbach holds the most complete collection in the United States. Publications and artifacts representing the history of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory are also held within the AI Collection and Wolbach's non-ciculating collections. Many of these objects are unique.
International Astronomy/Astrophysics Thesis Collection: a select and expanding world wide collection from the 19th century on, cataloged individually and shelved together.
The Astronomy Thesis Collection on Zenodo is also curated by Wolbach Library staff.
Harvard Astronomy Department Dissertations Collection: shelved alphabetically by author.
Papers resulting from the Harvard Astronomy Department Research Tutorials.
Project PHaEDRA Collection: collection of early 19th and 20th century notebooks representing the evolution of observation methods and astronomy as a science. The material exemplifies a unique history of women in science as the collection contains over 2,500 logbooks and notebooks produced by the Harvard Computers and other astronomers.
Books and materials in a broad range of subjects: astronomy, physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, mathematics, etc.
Charts & Atlases
Journals & Proceedings
- Journals & Proceedings, such as IOP/AAS, APS, AIP, MNRAS, SPIE Digital Library, etc.
- e-Book Collections, such as Springer, Safari, Cambridge University Press, etc.
- News Sources
- Online Research Tools
Astronomy Slide Collection: Slide sets available at the Wolbach Library, including itemized slide listings.CfA Historical Bibliography: A collection of highlighted resources about the CfA's history.
CfA Newsletters: A recently digitized and searchable online collection of CfA Newsletters, accessible through CfA IP addresses or VPN authentication. SAO NEWS (1961-1973), CenterLine (1974-1981), CfA Almanac (1982-2000).
Microfilm Project: Items microfilmed as part of a preservation project carried out at Harvard University through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Stars from the Wolbach Library Collection: Short slideshow of various historical items unique to Wolbach's holdings.
Video Collection: Videos available at the Wolbach Library, including CfA Colloquia.Women in Astronomy Bibliography: A collection of works by and about women in astronomy.
The John G. Wolbach Library combines the collections of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), forming one of the world’s preeminent astronomical collections.
The Center for Astrophysics
Wolbach Library is the library for the Center for Astrophysics (CfA). The CfA consists of the HCO, the SAO, and numerous ground-based and space-based telescopes and observatories. In 1973, the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University formalized their collaboration as the "Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics" to coordinate the related research activities of the two observatories under a single director. Today, the HCO and the SAO retain their separate identities, each responsible to its parent organization, with combined staff in six scientific divisions and the Library (CfA org chart). This partnership between the Smithsonian and Harvard is now known as the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
The Wolbach Library must provide shared resources to support the CfA community's continuously evolving needs. To do this Wolbach staff participate in local, national, and international networks and cooperative activities to promote scholarly advancement, access to recorded knowledge, and the empowerment of the astronomy community.
- Facilitate the creation and sharing of new knowledge in astronomy
- Lower technical and social barriers that negatively impact the astronomy community's ability to achieve its goals
- Promote and amplify both the contemporary and historic work of the CfA community
- Develop digital projects and priorities that continually challenge Library staff to excel at an international level
- Seek strategic collaborations to ensure the sustainability of the Library's programs, services, and projects
- Promote open science through outreach and training programs
These priorities shape the Library's services and guide how staff build, organize, manage, house, and preserve collections of physical and digital artifacts. At Wolbach this work is often done in collaboration with the Astrophysics Data System (ADS).
Library Staffing Structure
Services and Resources
Assistance from Librarians
- Contact Us for help with research, scholarly communication, and digital preservation questions (or to just tell us how we can best support your work).
Collections and Borrowing
- Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan services are available to all members of the CfA community
Books can be renewed up to five times online via HOLLIS, by phone, or walk-in
- Books can be checked out for a full semester unless recalled
- Books can be renewed up to five times online via HOLLIS, by phone, or walk-in
- Some Wolbach material is stored at the Harvard Depository and can usually be recalled within 24-hours of request (via HOLLIS)
- Special collections can only be referenced on-site via request
Online access to journals and other resources: requires a HarvardKey
- See our FAQ for information on how to setup your HarvardKey and access full text articles through the ADS
- Technical training and professional development support (see calendars for upcoming and past events)
- Lounge and workspace
- Collaboration Space: Members of the CfA community can reserve this space by writing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Technology loans: Includes laptops, cameras, and many other devices
- Other essentials: desktop computers (Mac, PC), printers, scanners and copiers, microfilm reader
The HCO collection results from the traditional exchange of scholarly works between observatories in the 1800s, and expanded further as commercially published materials became available. The SAO Library dates back to about 1959, when items were selected from the collection of astronomical material in Washington, DC and moved to Cambridge, MA. In 1975, the two libraries, which had been housed in separate parts of the Observatory, were merged into the Wolbach Library in the Perkin Building. In 1992, the administration of the HCO and SAO collections was merged under one director and staff.