Book pickup, Ask a Librarian, and on-demand scanning are available. Many other services, tools, and collections can be accessed online. Learn more

Wolbach Library

Center for Astrophysics
Today: Virtual Only


A world premier collection of astronomy research and artifacts partnering with the global astronomical community to link the past and present.

  • History of women in astronomy
  • International metadata schemas
  • Borrow telescopes & planetaria
  • Library Space Tech Network
Open to the general public. Members of the Center for Astrophysics have 24-hour access to the Library.

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Daguerreotype of the Moon taken at Harvard College Obseravtory, 1848.
Daguerreotype of the Moon taken at Harvard College Obseravtory, 1848. Learn More

The John G. Wolbach Library supports the endeavours of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), consisting of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO), the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), and numerous ground-based and space-based telescopes and observatories. In 1973, the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University formalized their collaboration to coordinate the related research activities of their two observatories under a single director. Today, HCO and SAO have combined CfA staffs in six research divisions: Atomic and Molecular Physics; High Energy Astrophysics; Optical and Infrared Astronomy; Radio and Geoastronomy; Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences; and Theoretical Astrophysics.

The HCO library collection results from the traditional exchange of scholarly works between observatories in the 1800s, and expanded further as commercially published materials became available. The SAO Library dates back to about 1959, when items were selected from the collection of astronomical material in Washington, DC and moved to Cambridge, MA. In 1975, the two libraries, which had been housed in separate parts of the Observatory, were merged into the Wolbach Library in the Perkin Building. In 1992, the administration of the HCO and SAO collections was merged under one director and staff.