Wolbach Library

Center for Astrophysics
Combining the collections of both the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Wolbach Library houses one of the world’s preeminent astronomical collections.
Today: 9am - 5pm
Wolbach Library Reference Desk 10am - 4pm


Reservable space Reservable space
Conversation areas Conversation areas
Couches / arm chairs Couches / arm chairs
Private desks Private desks
Food and drink allowed Food and drink allowed
Whiteboards / chalkboards Whiteboards / chalkboards
Printers / scanners / copiers Printers / scanners / copiers
Tech loan Tech loan


Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Wolbach Library is open to the public weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm and closed on federal holidays.

24-hour card access to the library is available via ID card for:

  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory employees
  • Harvard College Observatory employees
  • Official visitors
  • Harvard Astronomy Department graduate students
  • Center for Astrophysics affiliates who have a current entry in the CfA Staff Database

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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.