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John G. Wolbach Library

The John G. Wolbach Library is dedicated to providing information and research services to staff and scientists at the Center for Astrophysics, as well as supporting communities from Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the international astronomy community.

Welcome to the John G. Wolbach Library

Wolbach Library houses a world premier collection of astronomy research and artifacts, including books, journals, conference proceedings, databases, globes, slides, charts, folios, and dissertations.  The staff of Wolbach Library work to provide resources that respond to and anticipate challenges that impact the astrophysics community.  Wolbach Library also serves as a community space for all members of the Center for Astrophysics, extended affiliates from Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as the international astronomy community.

Reference Desk Hours: 10am - 4pm, Monday through Friday (excluding Holidays)

Wolbach Library is currently closed due to COVD-19. Wolbach staff are available remotely, Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm (Eastern).  Please contact us if you have questions or need resources.

Explore the Wolbach Library


Projects & Research

Wolbach Library is involved in several projects that support the research and scientific endeavours of the Center for Astrophysics, as well as stretching the field of librarianship.  Below is a sample of our work.


Project PHaEDRA is an initiative to catalog, digitize, transcribe, and enrich the metadata of over 2500 logbooks and notebooks produced by the Harvard Computers and other early astronomers. Our goal is to ensure that this remarkable set of items, created by a remarkable group of people, is as accessible and useful as possible.


MetaSat is an openly developed metadata toolkit to help link hardware, software, data, and people associated with small satellite missions. MetaSat's controlled vocabulary has been implemented by the Libre Space Foundation on their open satellite transmitter database, SatNOGs DB. Our goal is to continue developing MetaSat to be as open, flexible, and extensive as possible.

LSTN: Library Space Technology Network

LSTN is a collaborative project that gives public library communities ownership of open source technologies that allow them to participate in real space missions. To start, the Wolbach Library and the Libre Space Foundation are piloting the installation of openSatNOGS ground stations at five public libraries around the world. 

United Astronomy Thesaurus

An open, interoperable, community-supported thesaurus that unifies the divergent and isolated astronomy and astrophysics thesauri into a single high-quality controlled vocabulary formalizing astronomical concepts and their inter-relationships. The UAT has been implemented by AAS Publishing and others.

Software Preservation in Astronomy

Software will be the foundation on which future generations must construct their understanding of how the Universe works. Because of this, the library undertakes research and contributes to projects that help scientists make their software more easily citable and persistent.

Principles & Priorities

These principles and priorities shape the Library's efforts and guide how staff build, organize, manage, house, and preserve collections of physical and digital artifacts. At Wolbach this work is often done in collaboration with the Astrophysics Data System (ADS). The Wolbach Library also acknoweldges the historical and on-going influence that racism, sexism, and colonialism have on astronomers and their research. The Library therefore commits to continually evaluating how the Library's collections, projects, and services can be useful in combating these forms of oppression and violence.

Guiding Principles

Conversation: The Wolbach Library will work to foster conversation among members of the community and actively engage in those conversations to provide resources that meet the community’s continually changing and diverse needs.

Ownership: The Wolbach Library is a shared resource for all members of the astrophysics community. Community members are invited to contribute their ideas about how the Library can develop collections that help meet their scholarly and personal goals.

Adaptability: The Wolbach Library will maintain a willingness to adapt to the community’s needs and to enable discovery, sharing, and publication of all research artifacts.

Support: The Wolbach Library will support the community by providing resources that lower technical and social barriers that impact the future of astronomy research.     

Humanity: Astronomy is a human endeavor, and the Wolbach Library sees people as the most valuable resource at the CfA. The Library therefore prioritizes people and astronomers’ human needs when making decisions about our collections, services, and projects.

Library Priorities

  • Facilitate research about the Universe
  • Lower technical and social barriers that negatively impact the astronomy community     
  • Promote and amplify the astronomy community’s contemporary and historic work     
  • Develop projects and priorities that challenge Library staff to excel at an international level    
  • Seek strategic collaborations that sustain Library programs, services, and projects     
  • Enable scientific advancement through outreach and training programs