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Welcome to Caltech Library: From the University Librarian

New to Caltech? Learn about all the library resources, services, and staff available to you.

Fall 2020

September 21, 2020

Dear Caltech Community,

Supporting the research and teaching mission of the Institute is the top priority of the Caltech Library. We are working to develop new services and expand current ones to meet your needs for teaching and research going forward. Below we have detailed updates to our current services, and we encourage you to review our offerings and use them to benefit your work. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have additional needs or concerns, but please also understand that our services are dependent on external partners, including other libraries, many of which are in great flux just as we are.

All Caltech Library indoor locations are currently closed to patrons, including access to paper printers. We are offering an outdoor reading room for on-campus study space. This outdoor reading room is located outside the east side of Sherman Fairchild Library, and it provides shaded, socially distanced tables, chairs, power outlets, and WiFi. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and priority is given to current Caltech students. Enhanced cleaning protocols in this area are in place to protect our users.

We are happy to announce that all physical Library collections are available for check-out to the Caltech community ONLY via placing a HOLD in the Caltech Library Catalog (books, DVDs, maps, etc), or making an equipment reservation. Any Library materials or equipment that are requested may be picked up by appointment at Sherman Fairchild Library via the westside service window. Once your request is confirmed, you will be contacted regarding making an appointment to pick up your request and the procedures you must follow. Information about postal delivery will be provided. Library materials may also be returned at Sherman Fairchild Library via the bookdrop (books only) or the service window (for media and equipment) by appointment. For those not able to visit campus, library materials may also be returned via USPS prepaid shipping. Contact for more information.

DocuServe services are available. All document delivery and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) requests will be fulfilled in digital form wherever possible. DocuServe will scan articles and book chapters from items currently in the collection if requested but will not scan whole volumes. Members of the Caltech community may still request items other than journal articles and electronic book chapters (such as whole print books) to be filled via Interlibrary Loan. However, please be aware that our ILL service relies on other libraries. If these libraries are not providing lending services, our ability to provide interlibrary loan, even of digital materials, will also be affected. In the case of items being unavailable via ILL, the request will be referred to Subject Librarians for evaluation for purchase for the collection.

Caltech Library TechLab is also offering mediated 3-D printing for research and class projects ONLY. Please review the service guidelines prior to submitting your request.

All of the Caltech Library's numerous online services remain fully available, including reference and research consultations (email:, and access to all electronic resources (Library Guides, electronic books and journals, databases, etc.). Please note that if you are accessing our electronic resources remotely, refer to our guidelines for Off-Campus Access.

We have launched a new digital Course Reserves service for the Fall Term which allows for Library materials to be integrated into online courses via Canvas.  If your course isn't using Canvas, you will still be able to access Library Course Reserves via our online portal.

We are offering our instructional program for Fall 2020, and our currently scheduled classes are listed here. All instruction, including carpentry workshops on programming and data skills, is available online this term. To request an instruction session for your class, please email

Most acquisitions, cataloging and repository services are continuing normally. To request items for our collection, please use our request form. For information about our Caltech repository services, please visit Caltech Research Online.


Wishing you well,
Kara Whatley, University Librarian
Caltech Library