Collection Access Policy

Wolbach Library and HCO's Astronomical Photographic Glass Plate Collection

Our reference teams have answered frequently asked reference questions and provided guidance on accessing collections below. If the answer to your question cannot be found there, the reference teams are also available to help researchers locate the materials, retrieve answers to specific questions about our collections, and answer general questions via the following email addresses:

Visiting Researcher Rules

Wolbach Library and the Glass Plate Collection are located at the Center for Astrophysics. However, most records and special collections are stored off-site. Researchers should contact the Library or the Collection at least two weeks prior to visiting to ensure that records can be made available in upon their arrival. Researchers visiting Wolbach Library or the Glass Plate Collection must abide by the below Visiting Researcher Rules.

Researchers staying one day:

  • Please contact either Wolbach Library or the Glass Plate Collection with a specific research request at least two weeks prior to your visit. 
    • Due to limited staff, our teams are not able to do your research for you, but we are happy to assist in accessing collections of interest.

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.
  • You will need to sign a short liability waiver and an on-site access permission form. 

If you have any questions about the above rules please contact either Wolbach Library (library@cfa.harvard.edu) or the Collection Curator (lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu)

 

Loans

Please note, the Glass Plate Collection is unable to process loan requests at this time. However, if a museum or university would like to produce a plate facsimile, please contact the Curator (lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu) for permission and a list of good candidates for your exhibit.

See Wolbach Library's Borrowing Procedures for more information about loans of circulating collection items. Please contact the Head Librarian (daina.bouquin@cfa.harvard.edu) for more information about loans for exhibitions.

 

Please note, a readable copy is preferred to the loan of original documents. Our main concern is for the survival of the original primary evidence and its continued availability for all users. The Glass Plate Collection and Wolbach Library retain the authority to reject loan requests.

 

Image Permissions for Publications

We require written permission to reproduce any images owned by either Wolbach Library or the Glass Plate Collection. Please contact the appropriate entity for your specific image request. 

For permission to publish a glass plate photograph, please contact the curator, Lindsay Smith Zrull, directly at lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu. For unlimited use of an astronomical glass plate image in your publication or film, the observatory charges $40 per image. For students or non-profit entities with small budgets, speak with the curator directly about a waiver. In select cases, the curator/librarian may choose to waive a permission fee based on merit. Contact the collections manager directly if you need assistance in this matter.

For permission to publish images or reproductions of content from Wolbach Library’s collections, please email library@cfa.harvard.edu. Wolbach Library does not charge for reproductions, but does require requestors sign a reproduction agreement.

 

FAQ

Reference FAQ

Are Wolbach Library and the Glass Plate Collection the same?

No. While we often work together to assist researchers and we both exist within the greater umbrella of the Center for Astrophysics, we are two separate entities. Please make sure you know which collection you are interested in visiting before emailing us for a research visit.

Can I use an image from Wolbach Library's collections?

Please contact the Library directly at library@cfa.harvard.edu.

Can I use an image from the Astronomical Glass Plate Collection?

Please contact the curator, Lindsay Smith Zrull, directly at lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu. For unlimited use of an astronomical glass plate image in your publication or film, the observatory charges $40 per image. For students or non-profit entities with small budgets, speak with the curator directly about a waiver.

Where can I get more info about the Harvard 'women computers'?

Please reach out to Plate Stacks curator  Lindsay Smith Zrull (lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu) for a link with resources and historic photographs related to your specific research request.

Can I sell an astornomical item to Library or Plate Collection?

Wolbach Library and the Glass Plate Collection typically do not purchase astronomical items. However, donations are sometimes accepted depending on space and institutional needs.

Can I donate glass plates or other astronomical items?

If you have found astronomical photographic plates that used to belong to our collection, please reach out to curator Lindsay Smith Zrull (lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu). If your astronomical items need a home, please reach out to Wolbach library  (library@cfa.harvard.edu) or consider donating them to the learning center at PARI (www.pari.edu)

Can I visit the Glass Plate or Wolbach collections for research?

If you would like to visit the Wolbach Library Collections, contact the Library directly at library@cfa.harvard.edu.  If you would like to visit the Astronomical Photographic Glass Plate Collection contact Curator Lindsay Smith Zrull at lcsmith@cfa.harvard.edu.

I have scheduled a research visit, is there parking available?

The Center for Astrophysics does not have free public parking. Two and four hour passes can only be purchased on-site at the Harvard Observatory business office (Room B-115). Payment can be made by cash or check only. To purchase a one-day pass to use the lot on Observatory Hill, please follow the steps below: 

 

1.  Type in the URL: https://onedaypermit.vpcs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/permit/purchase.pl

2.  At the bottom of the page, click either ‘Faculty, Staff, or Student’ or ‘Visitor’

3.  All non-Harvard affiliated visitors must register. To do that, click on ‘Click Here to Register’. Fill out log-in information and your personal profile.

4.  Follow the directions on the screen. Use Observatory code 7770, when filling out the information.

5.  Once you have completed the process of purchasing your permit online, print out a copy and place it on your dashboard

Can I tour the Center for Astrophysics?

Wolbach Library and the Glass Plate Collection can not host tours for non-research groups at this time, however, Wolbach library is open to for public use between 9:00am -5:00pm.

What do I need to know about scheduling a tour for my school?

Student groups who want to visit our collections should know that there are many fragile artifacts on display during tours. There is no touching allowed unless your guide specifically grants permission. Due to space restrictions in the Glass Plate Collection, the curator can only host ten guests per tour. If your group shows up with more than guests than that, the curator will not be allowed to grant you entrance.

How can my institution care for its collection of glass plates?

If your institution has a small collection of glass plates, the Curator of Astronomical Photographs, Lindsay Smith Zrull, can help provide information on how to properly care for them.