Frequently Asked Questions

Click below for more information about our library.

Wifi & Harvard Key:


HarvardKey is Harvard University's login authentication system. All members of the CfA community are eligible to claim a HarvardKey. You will need to claim and use your HarvardKey in order to access online CfA Library and Harvard resources.

Click here for a list, sorted by School and role, of the applications and systems for which you can use your new HarvardKey login.

Harvard WiFi

Harvard Secure is now the primary wifi network at Harvard University. You can log in as a guest or as a Harvard user. Follow the directions here:

Once you claim your HarvardKey, Harvard WiFi no longer works with HUID and PIN-password; you will get an invalid credentials message. Instead, continue to use your HUID as the username, but log in using the new password you just created for HarvardKey. For the WiFi network "Harvard Secure" this is noted here. -- Click here to see screenshots.

You do not need to claim your HarvardKey in order to use Harvard WiFi, as the HUID/PIN mechanism will continue to work until further notice. However, some of you may wish to claim your HarvardKey now for other reasons, and you can do so and continue to access Harvard WiFi as described above.

Please contact if you need further assistance with Harvard WiFi.

Library Access:

Harvard Alumni library access

A working group, formed under the authorization of the Harvard Library Leadership Team in collaboration with the Harvard Alumni Association, has set up access to a limited offering of electronic resources for Harvard alumni. This can be viewed at:

Your library may make additional resources available to you. Contact them directly to learn more about alumni library access and privileges.

SAO employee access at Harvard Libraries

Your SAO ID should* allow you entry to borrowing privileges at the following Harvard Libraries:

Botany Arboretum
Baker Business**
Fine Arts Library
Harvard-Yenching Library
Kennedy School of Government
Gordon McKay
Loeb Music

*Admittance to the Harvard Libraries is controlled by the Harvard Libraries Access Services Department. If you encounter any issues, please go to the Privileges office, Room 130 in Widener, and the staff there will arrange to have your card coded correctly for entry. If for some reason the Privileges office is closed or if you'd prefer to call or email ahead of time, the Privileges staff can be reached at 617-495-4166 or by email at:

**Baker and Countway control their turnstiles locally. If there is an issue with being able to swipe in at those Libraries, the staff at the circulation desks there should be notified. Privileges can also be alerted and facilitate if that is easier.

My ID card doesn't work to get into the Library.

24-hour access via ID card is linked to building access, which is linked to the CfA staff database. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and Harvard College Observatory (HCO) Employees and Official Visitors, Harvard Astronomy Department Graduate Students and other Center for Astrophysics (CfA) affiliates who have a current entry in the CfA Staff Database are eligible for 24-hour access to the Library.

If you do have 24-hour building access, but your card does not work in the Library doors, contact Judy Schwab in the Business Office, B-115, 617-495-7540.

See also Hours, Parking, Map

Books & Resources:

Renewing materials

You may renew most library materials remotely (online/phone) up to five times. After that, the materials must be returned and may be renewed in person. Once renewed in person, the renewal cycle starts anew.

Exceptions to the 5-Renewals rule include borrowing our electronic devices.

Having a HOLLIS account allows you to view and manage materials you have checked out from Wolbach or other Harvard libraries. Renew online in the HOLLIS catalog at  At the top right of the page, click on: My HOLLIS Account / Renew to log in with your HarvardKey.

Phone renewals: 
617-496-5769 (Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm) 
Voicemail messages not accepted

Returning Harvard books

You can return any Harvard Library book here at the Wolbach Library. There is a Library Messenger service which travels between the Harvard Libraries. Materials from other Harvard Libraries can be returned to Wolbach Library, just as Wolbach Library materials can be returned to any Harvard Library.

  • Library materials may be returned at the Circulation Desk during business hours.
  • After-hours, Library materials may be returned using the book drop outside the front entrance to the Perkin building lobby at 60 Garden Street.
  • Library materials may also be returned at most other Harvard Libraries (the borrower must check the policies of each Library; some Libraries may not accept returns for other Harvard Libraries).
  • Library materials may be returned by mail to:
    • John G. Wolbach Library, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St. MS-56, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Getting materials from other libraries

For books or other resources not available at Wolbach:

  • Harvard undergraduate students should request interlibrary loans through their undergraduate libraries.
  • Harvard Astronomy graduate students and CfA staff should request through the Wolbach Library Material Request Form.

Journals & Proceedings:

Accessing online journals

Access is via HarvardKey and goes through a proxy server. Access is granted to: Employees of the SAO (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) and HCO (Harvard College Observatory), Harvard Astronomy Department Graduate Students and other Center for Astrophysics (CfA) affiliates who have a current entry in the CfA Staff Database. Most frequently used journals are listed on our web page. Additional journal titles, frequently in full text, may be located via Harvard's HOLLIS catalogue.

Full-text journals through ADS

Please note that all abstracts and articles in the ADS are copyrighted by the publisher, and access is free for personal use only.

In order to access both the ADS article archive and the more recent literature in ADS that is available through current Wolbach Library paid subscriptions, you must have an ADS account set up to link to the Harvard University proxy servers. This will enable links to the full text of a paper via the familiar "Find it @ Harvard" buttons when viewing an ADS record with full-text availability.

  1. Create a new account or sign into your existing account.
  2. Confirm link present for HU Library Server:
    1. Go to the ADS Account Management page
    2. Click on "Library Links Settings."
    3. Once the next page opens, make sure the pull down menu for “Select Library Link server” is set to "Harvard University Library", then, “Save Settings”
  3. Add Abstract Service Proxy:
    1. Log in to your account (upper right corner)
    2. Go to ADS User preferences
    3. Click on Set/Review your User preferences
    4. Paste the following link into the Abstract Server Proxy Field:
    5. Click Save Settings button
  4. You can now use the ADS from the usual web addresses:
    1. ADS Home Page
    2. ADS Abstract Service

To access full-text articles through ADS at home, simply log into the ADS with the email address used to create the account. You will need to enter your HarvardKey to authenticate yourself, after which you will be granted access to all of the electronic resources as if you were at work.

Full-text articles with Google Scholar

In order to view full-text resources available through the Harvard University Library System, you must link your account on Google Scholar search to the Harvard University proxy server. This will enable links to full-text via the familiar "Find it @ Harvard" buttons when viewing a Google Scholar record with full-text availability.

  1. Go to Google Scholar’s main page and click “Settings”

  2. Select “Library links” on the left of the page

  3. In the empty box, type “Harvard” and click Search

  4. Check the box next to “Harvard University - Find It @ Harvard” and click “Save”

  5. Now “Find it @ Harvard” buttons will appear next to resources.  If you are logged into your or other google based email address, the changes to the settings page should remain in effect when you return to Google Scholar.

Browsing Tables of Contents of current issues in ADS

Access journals using the links on the journals page of our Library's website (which may not always take you to most current issue), or use the ADS TOC service page at this address: You must be logged into your ADS account for full text via the library proxy.

SPIE proceedings

If you are located at the CfA, you have access to the entire SPIE Digital Library with IP authentication.

For remote access, follow the instructions here: SPIE Digital Library_Remote Access PDF

In the HOLLIS Classic Catalog, search in order of volume number:

1. Select SEARCH.

2. In the drop down menu under Search Type, select “Series.”

3. In the Search For box, type in “Proceedings of SPIE.”

4. Click on the “Search” button to the right of where you just typed. A new page will load with an alphabetical list of titles. Find the “Proceedings of SPIE – the International Society for Optical Engineering’ line (which has 50+ records).

5. Sort options include: — Author(D)/Year  — Author(A)/Year  — Title(D)/Year  —  Title(A)/Year  —  Year(D)/Author  — Year(A)/Author  — Author/Title.   Alternatively, click on the arrows next to Author, Title, Year to sort by these headings.

Other Info:

Copyright Law

Always feel free to contact the library if you have questions or concerns about intellectual property and copyright.

The most comprehensive source of information about U.S. copyright is the U.S. Copyright Office. Their website provides answers to many questions about copyright. See also: Information on Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. Another good resource is the Digital Media Law Project Primer on Copyright Liability and Fair Use.

Additional Harvard resources include: the Copyright First respondersCopyright Basics, by Betsy Rosenblatt; Copyright and Fair Use: a Guide for the Harvard Community from Harvard University's General Counsel.

I'm a new CfA Predoc/Postdoc Fellow. What do I need to know?

The CfA Fellowship Program Office is located in Room B-218 on the Observatory grounds at 60 Garden Street in Cambridge, and provides information for Predoc and Postdoc Fellows regarding:

Arrival Checklists


 Ms. Christine Crowley
 Fellowship Program Coordinator
 MS 67
 60 Garden Street
 Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

 Phone: (617) 495-7103
 Fax: (617) 496-7589

Cost of Living
Getting Settled
Research Scientists
Harvard Astronomy Faculty
Awards and Benefits
Tax Information
Postdoc Liaisons
Predoc Liaisons
Local Community

Can you state the value of my donated items to the Library?

Following Smithsonian Institution policy, no staff member may provide an appraisal of materials donated to the Library.  

The John G. Wolbach Library accepts gifts-in-kind, or non-monetary donations, which enhance and complete its collection. The Library reserves the right to limit such gifts to those which substantially benefit the Library and are cost effective to receive, catalog, process, maintain and preserve. The Library, through its governing institutions, assumes ownership of all donations and reserves the right to add donated materials to its collections, and to exchange, sell, or discard them as appropriate.

Only in unusual cases of exceptionally rare and valuable items does the Library accept donated collections which must be kept intact, items offered conditionally, temporarily, or with restrictions. Appraisal and documentation of materials for tax purposes is the responsibility of the donor.