Collection Access

Please see our borrowing procedures for more information about borrowing items from our circulating collections. See our hours and location for details on where we are.

The Wolbach Library and the Plate Stacks are located at the Center for Astrophysics. However, many records and special collection items are stored off-site. Please contact us at least two weeks prior to visiting to ensure that records can be made available upon arrival. Researchers visiting Wolbach Library must abide by the below Visiting Researcher Rules and handling practices.

Please note: researchers may only schedule work with special collection materials Monday-Friday from 9-5pm. 

Visiting Researcher Rules


Researchers staying one day:

  • Please write to library@cfa.harvard with a specific research request at least two weeks prior to your visit. 

Extended research visits: 

  • Visitors coming to the CfA for more than one day will be required to fill out a few forms in addition to abiding by the rules for one-day visitors.
  • You will need a sponsor within the Center for Astrophysics who can sign a sponsorship letter for you. Please let us know if you need help identifying a sponsor.
  • You will need to sign a short liability waiver and an on-site access permission form. 

Handling Special Collections

  • Special collection materials can only be physically handled in support of specific research needs.
  • Special collection materials may only be consulted in designated spaces and may not be removed.
  • Absolutely no food or drinks are allowed in the proximity of special collection materials.
  • The use of pens is not permitted while handling special collection materials.  
    • Pencils will be made available to you.
    • The use of laptops is encouraged.
  • Equipment (e.g., light sources) that rests directly on collection material is not permitted.
  • Researchers must show all books and papers to Wolbach Library staff whenever they leave the Library.