Schedule a Visit

Planning a Research Visit

The Othmer Library is an independent research library. It is open to all users, but the collections and services are designed for scholars and experienced researchers who are working on specific topics, with a research strategy in place. 

Researchers must request the materials they wish to consult. The library’s online catalog, Midon, is available via CHF’s website and provides full bibliographic descriptions of books, journals, oral histories, and archival materials held in the collection. The requested items will be retrieved from the stacks to be used in the Jacobs Reading Room. 

Researchers are encouraged to consult the online catalog and request materials in advance of their visit.

Reading Room Hours

10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

(V): 215-873-8269
(F): 215-629-5269
Mailing address: 315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Library is closed on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day


  • A microform reader/printer is located in the Jacobs Reading Room. This equipment is capable of viewing microfilm (16 and 35 mm) and microfiche. There is a fee for making copies.
  • A book-edge photocopier is located in the Jacobs Reading Room. There is a fee for making copies.
  • Personal computers may be used in the reading room. Electrical outlets and WiFi access are available.

Library Policies

  • Researchers are asked to make an appointment in advance of a visit.
  • All researchers must provide a photo ID upon arrival.
  • Researchers may use only pencil or laptops for note taking.
  • Digital cameras are allowed only for the purpose of research and not for publication.
  • Researchers may not bring food or drink, umbrellas, backpacks, briefcases, or luggage into the reading room. Lockers are available near the first-floor reception area.

Rare-Book Researchers

  • Please make an appointment in advance and provide a list of books you plan to consult. 
  • You must fill out a rare-book research registration form before a library card will be issued to you. 
  • Upon arrival please place all unnecessary items in a locker near the first-floor reception area.

Security Regulations

Violation of any established conditions and/or procedures for using materials from the collections are subject to penalties, including denial of further access to the collections. Repeated violations may result in denial of further access to the premises and denial of further use of the Library’s facility. Mutilation or theft of property will result in criminal prosecution, as set forth in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929.1.

Privacy of Use Records

Records related to the circulation of library materials that contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of the State Library or any local library that is established or maintained under any law of the Commonwealth or the library of any university, college, or educational institution chartered by the Commonwealth or the library of any public school or branch reading room, deposit station or agency operated in connection therewith, shall be confidential and shall not be made available to anyone except by a court order in a criminal proceeding as set forth in 24 Pa.C.S. § 4428.

Subject Guides

Subject Guides

Research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by the Othmer library staff. Know what we know — find it in our Subject Guides!