Policies and Procedures

Building Access

Harvard ID holders and members of the general public may access the Library during our normal business hours. Members of the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) who have a current entry in the CfA Staff Database have 24-hour access to the Wolbach Library, this includes employees, visitors, graduates and other affiliates from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the Harvard College Observatory (HCO).

Library staff make every effort possible to accommodate visitors with disabilities. Please contact us in advance to make arrangements (email library@cfa.harvard.edu, or call 617-496-5769).

Events and Code of Conduct

See Guidelines for Events and Conduct in Wolbach Library

Licensed Electronic Resources

See E-Resources Copyright and Licensing Restrictions

Collection Development

See Collection Development Policy.


  • Individuals with valid Harvard or SAO ID or Official Visitor credentials may borrow materials from the Library's circulating collections (terms vary, see below for more information). All others may request loans of Library materials through the interlibrary loan department of their institution or public library.
  • The following materials do not circulate and may not be removed from the Library: unbound journals, rare or brittle materials, reference works, microfiche and microfilm. Photocopiers and microform reader/printers are available in the Library.
  • Generally, all other materials may be borrowed.
  • Loan periods for books are dependent on duration of appointment:
    • Harvard Faculty, Officers, Staff and Graduate Students, SAO and HCO Employees and Official Visitors with appointments of twelve months or more: There are 2 standard due dates, September 10 and February 10, for those borrowers in this category. Unless recalled, books can usually be renewed online, through My Account in HOLLIS, up to five times.
    • SAO Employees and Official Visitors with one to twelve month appointments, Harvard Undergraduate and Summer School Students, Extension School Degree Candidates and Harvard University Libraries Special Borrowers: 28 days. 
    • SAO Employees and Official Visitors here for less than one month: no borrowing privileges.
    • Please contact the library if you have questions about your elligability to borrow library materials.
  • Shorter loan periods apply to bound journals and to materials from some special collections including digital formats, slides, videos and course reserves.
  • Borrowing privileges for physical material may be temporarily revoked if a member of the community fails to return, renew, or acknowledge materials as lost for a protracted period of time. Library staff will attempt to contact patrons at risk of losing borrowing privileges for four weeks prior to enacting any changes to borrower privileges.  


  • All materials are subject to recall at any time. If another patron requests the recall of a borrowed item, the current borrower will be notified, and must return the recalled item within seven days.
  • Once a book has been recalled, the date stamped in the book or printed on a renewal confirmation notice is no longer valid.
  • Any patron may place a recall request, and any material that is checked out by any patron can be recalled. Material that is currently on loan to another borrower may be requested directly through the HOLLIS Catalog at http://holliscatalog.harvard.edu using a Harvard or SAO ID and HarvardKey. From the "Full view" display of a record in the HOLLIS Catalog, click "Availability" then "request." Recall requests may also be placed in person at the main desk in the Library.
  • We suggest that borrowers return materials to the Library before any extended absence.


  • Borrowers may renew Library materials directly through the HOLLIS Catalog at http://holliscatalog.harvard.edu. Click on "Your Account" and enter your HarvardKey to log in. A HarvardKey may be obtained at: http://iam.harvard.edu/harvardkey
  • Library materials may also be renewed over the phone at 617-496-5769, or in person at the Library during business hours.
  • There is a limit of five remote renewals (online, phone) after which materials must be renewed in person.


  • 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 Wolbach or 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.


See Harvard Library's Fines & Fees

Interlibrary Loan: Lending for Non-Harvard Libraries

We are a supplying member of OCLC, represented by the symbol SQD. See our OCLC profile (SQD) for detailed policy information.

Requests by other libraries may also be submitted via fax (617-495-7199), email (library@cfa.harvard.edu - use "I.L.L. REQUEST" in subject line), or mail; standardized ALA forms are not required.

Wolbach Library's collection is represented in the HOLLIS Catalog. Records include circulation status for monographs and specific holdings information for journal titles.

For further information, please call 617-496-5769.