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Othmer Library of Chemical History: Using the Library

The Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library is an independent research library.

General Information

Othmer Library of Chemical History

Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Monday - Friday
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

Holiday Closings

The Library is closed on these holidays every year:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Presidents' Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day including the Friday after
  • Winter Break (December 24- January 1)

Additionally, the Library is occasionally closed for events, including these:

  • Heritage Day (Occurs in May)

Admission to the Research Library

Planning a research visit

The Othmer Library is an independent research library. It is open to all users, by appointment, 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 are encouraged to consult the online catalog and request materials in advance of their visit. The library's online catalog, Midon, 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 asked to make an appointment in advance of a visit.
  • Researchers must fill out a Research Registration form before a library card will be issued to you. 
  • 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  • Digital cameras are allowed only for the purpose of research and not for publication.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, brief cases, or luggage into the reading room. Lockers are available to store these items.


  • Microform reader/printer. This equipment is capable of viewing microfilm (16 and 35 mm) and microfiche. There is a fee for making copies.
  • Book-edge photocopier. There is a fee for making copies.
  • Personal computers may be used in the reading room.
  • WiFi access is available.

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.