Reference service is available in the Academy Library by appointment during open hours. Services are provided on site, and reference requests can be made by mail, telephone, fax or e-mail. The Library offers access to a variety of electronic resources including:

• Commercial databases (such as Zoological Record and OCLC FirstSearch
• Online library catalogs
• World Wide Web databases and resources

Reference librarians can assist with the use of online library catalogs, indexes, and databases. In addition, we are available to faclitate use of the reference, journal, and research monograph collections, as well as our fine collection of Rare Books.

The Library's holdings are included in Melvyl® and in the Academy Library's own online Academy Catalog.

The Academy Library's new acquisitions lists are also available via the Web.

Interlibrary Loan

The Interlibrary Loan Department supports the research needs of the California Academy of Sciences by borrowing materials that are not owned by the Academy Library. Every attempt is made to borrow materials from libraries throughout the United States and the world. The care and effort you put into your requests has a great impact on our speed and effectiveness.

To request an item through interlibrary loan:

• Make sure the item is not available at the California Academy of Sciences Library by searching the Catalog (the Library will not honor requests to borrow items we already own).

• Fill out an ILL request form completely for each item, including all of the bibliographic information requested, in order to identify the item.

Place ILL Request

Scanning, Reproduction & Use

Material from the Academy Archives is available for research and may also be used on a fee basis in publications and commercial products.

Please see our Price Listing for fees and Request for Permission for information about the reproduction and use of materials.

Most reproduction orders are completed within 10 working days of receipt. Large or difficult orders may require additional time. Rush orders may be accommodated for additional fees depending on staff availability.
Please note, reproduction services are performed by an independent photo lab.


All orders must be paid in advance. Acceptable forms of payment are:

• Cash
• Check or money order payable to California Academy of Sciences Special Collections
• Visa, Mastercard, or American Express

Completed orders may be picked up at the California Academy of Sciences, Special Collections between the hours of 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. Orders can be shipped via US Mail, UPS or Federal Express. Fees vary depending on shipment method. Digital images can be sent via e-mail or retrieved from our ftp site.

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  • Who can use the Academy Library?

    The Library is open to all staff, students, and volunteers of the Academy during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm).

    Members of the public with a legitimate research interest are welcome to use the collections by appointment.

  • Can I check out books from the Academy Library?

    Items from the Academy Library only circulate to Academy Staff for in-house use. Members of the public may view items in the Naturalist Center


  • How do I contact a Librarian?

    Librarians are generally available during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm).

    We can help you with questions, provide referrals, or schedule an appointment for you to visit the Library.

    You can contact the Library by

    Phone: (415) 379-5484




  • How do I look up a book?

    All of the Academy Library and Naturalist Center book, journal, and multimedia holdings are listed in the Academy Library catalog.

    Confused? Watch a tutorial on searching the Academy Library catalog.

    There are many ways to find items in the Academy Library catalog.

    Watch a short tutorial

  • How do I find journal articles?

    The Academy Library offers access to a variety of databases and indexes, both free and subscription services.  You must be on-site at the Academy to use the subscription databases.

    Browse our Indexes & Databases

  • I know what I want, now how do I get it?

    First, look it up in the Catalog.

    If we don't own it, try the following:

    Academy Staff ONLY: Place an Interlibrary Loan request.

    If you do not have Academy Library borrowing privileges, try searching to see if a library near you owns the item.

  • Can I reuse or publish your photographs or other materials?

    In most cases, the answer is yes.  Please see Scanning, Reproduction & Use for more information.

  • How do I search for archival collections in the catalog?

    As a rule, those collections are not listed in the Library catalog.  You can browse the list of manuscript holdings here and you can search Archives image collections in the Manzanita Image Gallery.


    Please contact archives [at] calacademy [dot] org with any questions.

  • Can I volunteer at the Library?

    We periodically have volunteer opportunities for both short-term, project based and long-term assignments. 

    Please contact Volunteer Services if you are interested in becoming a Library volunteer.