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.<embed>
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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 by following the directions here.

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. These can be viewed here.

SAO employee access at Harvard Libraries

Your SAO ID should allow you entry and borrowing privileges at all Harvard Libraries.

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:

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 the HCO Business Office, B-115, 617-495-7540.

See also Hours, Parking, Map

Books & Resources:

Renewing materials

You may renew most library materials remotely (via HOLLIS or 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 Wolbach's electronic devices.

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, 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 or via HOLLIS, members of the CfA community should use 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. Set up your Library Link Server:
    1. Go to Customize Settings under the Account menu, and then to Library Link Server.
    2. Click on the "Update" button.
    3. A drop down menu should appear; select "Harvard University Library," then click the "Apply" button.
    4. You should see a line that says "Current Link Server: Harvard University Library."
  3. You can now access full text content via Harvard's subscriptions.
  4. If you come accross an article you need to access but is unavaialble via our subscriptions, please send an email to or use our request form.

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.

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 and Copyright and Fair Use: a Guide for the Harvard Community.

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 items when I donate them to the library?

No. By law, we cannot appraise the value of items donated to the library, but we can connect you with qualified appraisers. See Wolbach's Donation Policy for more information.