Please see our COVID-19 Reopening Plans for updated access policies. These updated policies currently supercede this page as of July 1, 2021.

Access to the libraries of Caltech varies based on day of the week and specific library and the individual visiting the libraries. For the most up-to-date library hours, please visit the hours page.  The Caltech Library provides a safe space for its community to study or work on academic endeavors.  Behavior contrary to this principle will not be tolerated and Campus Security will be notified immediately.

The information provided here addresses physical access to the Caltech libraries and online resources.  The Library has four categories of users: the Caltech Community, Affiliates, Guest Readers, and visitors.  Only the Caltech Community and Affiliates have borrowing privileges of library materials.

Physical access to the libraries

Caltech Community

Current Caltech students, faculty, and staff may use any of the Caltech Libraries between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday (the Caltech Archives requires an appointment before visiting).  After 5pm on weekdays and on weekends, a valid Caltech ID card is needed to gain entry to Sherman Fairchild and Millikan Libraries.  Access to the other libraries on evenings and weekends is limited.  Please visit the hours page for more information on each library. 

Affiliates and Guest Readers

Caltech Affiliates with a borrower's card and individuals with a guest reader card may use the Sherman Fairchild Library between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday without showing their card. 

From 5pm to midnight during the week and 9am to midnight on weekends, Caltech affiliates and guest readers can use their card to gain entry to Sherman Fairchild Library only. 

Caltech affiliates and guest readers may not bring in other guests to the Sherman Fairchild Library. 

Guest readers are granted library access for reference use of the SFL collections only.  The following may qualify for this status:

  • Faculty from other Institutions of Higher Learning
  • Fuller Theological Seminary Graduate Students
  • Huntington Hospital Professional Staff
  • City of Hope National Medical Professional Staff (contact the City of Hope Library for an access card)
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) interns

In addition, users with a legitimate need to use the specialized collections at Caltech may apply for a Guest Reader card.

Graduate level status and the recommendation of a tenured Caltech Faculty or administration is required. Application is initiated at the Sherman Fairchild Library circulation desk between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Please call ahead (626-395-6401) to verify staff availability. Applicants will be notified by mail following review of their application (approximately two weeks from date of application).

Guest reader card holders are not permitted to let other visitors into the Sherman Fairchild Library.  If a guest reader card holder does this, their card may be revoked.

External Researchers (Visitors)

Because these libraries have small, heavily used, highly specialized collections, and very limited seating, they are largely unsuitable for access to general information. For those services, we highly recommend visiting other local libraries. The Caltech Library is primarily for the Caltech community, but external researchers may have limited access to SFL between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday. Access to other libraries must be by appointment. Contact us for more information.

Service Animals

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are welcomed and permitted in the Caltech Libraries. Per ADA, service animals are trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. For details, please see ADA Requirements on Service Animals. No other animals are permitted (e.g.  comfort or therapy dogs).

The Library seeks to provide a safe and productive environment for all its users and staff.  The following service animal guidelines are to be observed:

  • Service animals must be in physical proximity with their handler and under handler control at all times with a leash or harness at all times, unless the leash or harness interferes with the animal’s performance of service task.
  • Service animals may not be left unattended by their handler at any time.
  • Service animals must not display disruptive behavior such as barking or growling.
  • The handler is responsible for any upkeep or clean-up of the service animal. 

If a service animal's behaviors or actions pose an unreasonable or direct threat to the health or safety of others, or do not conform to these guidelines, it may not remain in a Library facility.  If the service animal is excluded from a Library facility, the individual with the disability is welcomed to stay and will be reasonably accommodated by Library staff.

If you have questions regarding these guidelines, please contact us.

Access to Online Resources

For access to online journals and databases, if you do not have an access.caltech account, please consult the Computing Resources Policy for guidance.