The Othmer Library is open to researchers by appointment only.
- We encourage you to explore the library’s collections by searching our online catalog and digital collections.
- If you have a reference question, please email [email protected].
Make an Appointment
- To schedule an appointment, please email [email protected].
- While not required, you may request items in advance of your visit; materials will be retrieved by library staff and brought to you in our Reading Room.
- If you are interested in viewing rare books or archives, please read the special policies below.
Location, Hours, and Contact
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Email: [email protected]
Hours: Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
The Othmer Library is closed on the following holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Presidents’ Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after
- December 24 through January 1
A wheelchair-accessible pedestrian gate is available at our parking-lot entrance on 3rd Street between Chestnut and Market Streets. The pedestrian gate is unlocked during regular business hours and for events. If you’re traveling by car, drive up to the parking-lot gate, which will open automatically during regular business hours and events. You may park in any open spot marked “Visitor” or in one of two spots reserved for persons with disabilities. To enter the building, call our receptionist via the intercom at the East Entrance for visitors and staff.
Learn more about accessibility at the Science History Institute.
Reading Room Procedures
- Upon arrival provide a current photo identification and fill out a registration form.
- Place umbrellas, backpacks, or briefcases into a locker.
- Use only pencils or laptops for note taking.
- Use of digital cameras is permitted for research purposes.
Special Policies for Accessing Rare Books and Archives
- Before your visit please provide a list of books and/or archives you plan to view; email [email protected].
- Research hours for rare books and archives are 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
- For photocopies or scans, make a request through library staff, who will scan materials. There are fees for copies.
The Othmer Library offers travel grants for periods of up to two weeks for research and scholarly exploration of our primary materials which include rare and modern books, manuscripts, archival collections, oral histories, fine art, artifacts, and instruments. Travel grants are $750 per week and are intended to help defray the costs of travel and accommodation. Applicants must currently reside more than 75 miles (120 km) from Philadelphia to be eligible. Applications and research visits are accepted and approved on a rolling basis.
To apply for a travel grant fill out our online application form.
Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
Holdings range from rare books on the history of chemistry to alchemical manuscripts dating from the 15th to the 17th century.
Collections include the papers of organizations and individuals whose work has significantly advanced our scientific understanding of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences and its allied fields.