General Access

  • Except in the case of open public events, a Harvard ID is required to enter the library (enforced by card-swipe at all entrances).
  • Everyone is welcome to use the café, coffee bar, courtyard and lobby area at the entrance to the library. 


Cabot Science Library is a food friendly environment. Food and drink are welcome except in the Media Studios and Collections area.

In case of a spill, each person is expected to take responsibility for reporting the situation to library or building security staff and making efforts to clean up promptly. Prompt action can make a significant difference in limiting damage of spills on computer equipment and upholstery. Reports can be made to:

  • The Library Staff at the lower level Service Desk
  • The Security Staff at the first floor guard desk
  • The Security Staff at the Science Center guard desk (at the end of the ramp on the first floor).

Noise Level

Cabot Science Library is designed as a collaborative space that integrates seamlessly into the Science Center. As such, we value behavior that is respectful and helps us maintain this beautiful space without adding restrictions that seem arbitrary or capricious.

  • In general, Cabot Science Library does not support quiet study, though there will be locations and times that are quieter. The Access Services Desk can suggest nearby library locations for those searching for truly quiet study space.
  • The first floor, near the Discovery Bar and Puzzle Tables, is expected to be highly collaborative, hosting a variety of events that may be open to the general public. Some of these events may involve music, dancing and loud multimedia displays. Significant foot traffic is also expected from the cafe and courtyard.
  • Several enclosed spaces (group study rooms and the Videoconference Room) provide quiet and can be reserved for group study sessions.
  • We recommend the use of noise-canceling headphones to improve study focus during busy times of the semester. The Collections Area and the Study Pod locations are expected to be relatively quiet.

Animals in the Libraries

With the exception of licensed Service Animals, pets/animals are not allowed in the libraries.

Appropriate Use of Public Terminals

The Harvard College Library offers Internet and computing resources to the Harvard Community and members of the public for the purpose of promoting research and scholarship. Although the libraries do not monitor or censor the use of computers by library patrons, patrons should consider that the open display of some materials may create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for others. Library patrons should respect others' desires not to be inadvertently exposed to images they find offensive. Library staff reserve the right to mediate complaints about the display of material and enforce this policy.

Cell Phones

Cabot Library provides three designated chat booths on the Lower Level for phone or video calls; cell phones are also permitted in the Group Study Rooms, Media Studios, and the Videoconference Room.   Patrons are asked to turn off ringers and discontinue calls in other areas of the library.

Licensing and Copyright

All library users must respect the copyrights for printed materials as well as for software and data accessible through computers throughout the Harvard College Library. No copyrighted work may be copied, published, disseminated, displayed, or played without permission of the copyright holder except in accordance with fair use or licensed agreement. Students with questions about copyrights or this policy are invited to raise those questions with any dean, tutor, or academic officer. Staff supervisors and members of the faculty are welcome to call the University's Office of General Counsel.

Some electronic resources are restricted by license agreement to current students, faculty, and staff members in the Harvard community and to on-site users of Harvard's libraries for purposes of research, teaching, and private study. Commercial use and systematic downloading, copying, or distributing of information are expressly prohibited. Users are individually responsible for compliance with these terms.

Permission to Use Images from Library Materials

Users who wish to include a copy (in any format) obtained from materials held by the Harvard College Library in publication, Web page or other electronic medium, film, exhibit, etc., must first obtain permission from the holding library. Permissons and reproduction requests for library materials may also be submitted via the Imaging Services order inquiry forms.

Photography and Filming

In support of its mission to provide access to materials and service in an environment that is conducive to study and research, the Harvard Library strictly limits filming in its libraries and facilities. No photography or filming is permitted in the buildings without written permission; please see special considerations, below.

Additionally, photography and filming in library buildings is subject to Harvard University’s photography and videotaping policies, available here. Note that these guidelines require all participants (including students and audience members) to be notified of recordings and all copyright permissions to be granted. Disruptive photography or filming is not allowed.

To request permission to photograph or film within the library system, please fill out the Photography, Filming, and Recording request form. Advance notice of at least two weeks is preferred.

Special considerations:

Photographing materials for research use:
In some libraries, patrons may use personal digital cameras to photograph some materials for research purposes. Please inquire with staff regarding an individual library's policy.

Special events within the libraries:
Special events, conferences, seminars, etc. held in a contained space in a library building may be recorded or filmed by the Harvard sponsoring organization for archival purposes only. Filming outside the space is not permitted. Camera crews are not permitted to film b-roll in any part of any library building or facility. Such recording may not be sold or distributed to other internal or external organizations.

Personal photography:
Photography by Harvard students, faculty, staff and guests, such as visitors to parents’ weekends, using hand-held, self-contained cameras (without tripod or other attachments) is permitted so long as it respects the privacy of library patrons, does not disrupt or interfere with the scholarly environment, the work of library users or staff or the safety of the collections and abides by copyright law. Personal photographers should not record any library patron without prior consent, and photography cannot be used for commercial purposes. Flash photography is not allowed.

Smoking Policy

Harvard Library policy prohibits smoking in the libraries. Smoking is also prohibited in Harvard Yard.