Olin Library Guidelines and Policies

Exterior roof of the Olin Library with a yellow ginkgo tree.

John M. Olin Library’s stacks, available study spaces, and Help Desk are open for use according to the Building Access, Visitors, and other guidelines and policies below. Visitors to Special Collections must be pre-approved with an appointment.

See our COVID-19 Information page and our hours page for additional details.

Building Access

The John M. Olin Library will require a card swipe with a valid WashU ID for entrance during operational hours after 6 PM, Monday-Friday, and during all open hours on weekends. All users without a valid WashU ID are expected to leave Olin Library at 6 PM, Monday-Friday; users without a valid WashU ID will not be able to visit Olin Library during weekend hours. Users should have their WashU ID with them at all times; for safety and security reasons, library staff may request to see a library user’s identification.

See the Library Hours page for Olin Library and other Danforth Campus library regular hours, as well as special hours and closures due to breaks and holidays.

There is an automated door at the north and south entrances to John M. Olin Library, and an elevator is located on each floor. Please see People with Disabilities under For Visitors and Alumni for more information

Visitors

See the Library access & visitors section below under Libraries’ Expectations of Users due to COVID-19 Operations for details.

Closing Time

A closing announcement will be made prior to closing each day. At that time, prepare to leave the library. Users who have material to check out at the Help Desk should prepare to arrive at the Help Desk at least 10 minutes before closing time in order to check out materials.

Personal Property and Lost Items

Protect your personal property from theft or damage. Do not leave any personal property, including laptops, mobile devices, bags, and other articles of value, unattended. The University Libraries are not responsible for lost or stolen property.

Lost items are kept at the Help Desk on Level 1. WashU Police pick up the lost items that they deem to be valuable and transfer them to the WashU Police Department’s Lost & Found, which is the central location for those seeking lost items on Danforth Campus. Items such as mobile devices, laptops, and wallets that are not claimed at the Help Desk will be sent to WUPD’s lost & found.

Libraries’ Expectations of Users due to COVID-19 Operations 

We expect Library users to adhere to University and Libraries COVID-19 requirements at all times, including and not limited to the following points. Additional University policies and details are available on the WashU Together: COVID-19 Response Web page; these policies may evolve during the fall semester. 

  • Library access & visitors – Visitors are responsible for being abreast of and adhering to the university’s visitor guidance and protocols, available on the WashU Together: COVID-19 Response, including self-screening with the visitor screening tool. Visitors to Special Collections must be pre-approved with an appointment.

    The John M. Olin Library will require a card swipe with a valid WashU ID for entrance during operational hours after 6 PM, Monday-Friday, and during all open hours on weekends. All users without a valid WashU ID are expected to leave Olin Library at 6 PM, Monday-Friday; users without a valid WashU ID will not be able to visit Olin Library during weekend hours. Users should have their WashU ID with them at all times; for safety and security reasons, library staff may request to see a library user’s identification.
  • Self-screening – All library users and pre-approved visitors are required to complete the University’s daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the Libraries. Individuals may be asked to show their screening results to library staff. Users found not to have a successfully passed screening result for that day will be asked to leave/step outside the Libraries and return only when they have a successfully passed screening result. 
  • Masking – Masking is required in all areas inside all University Libraries locations unless actively eating or drinking (where permitted), including and not limited to: lobbies and vestibules; open spaces and walkways; all study spaces including study and reading rooms; book stacks; instruction rooms; computing areas; and multi-stall restrooms.

    Users are expected to have their own mask(s). The Libraries do not provide masks for users. Users found not in possession of a mask will be asked to leave the Libraries and return only when wearing a mask. 
  • Eating & drinking – Eating and drinking are permitted in some Olin Library spaces according to the Food and Drink guidelines below. Users can remove their mask(s) when actively eating or drinking where permitted, allowing for personal space as much as possible.
  • Physical distancing – Physical distancing is not required, except for allowing for personal space as much as possible when actively eating or drinking where permitted. 

Library Usage Guidelines

For the comfort and safety of library users and the security of the building and collections, the University Libraries expect users to observe the following guidelines when using Olin Library. The University Libraries reserve the right to address behaviors that do not adhere to these guidelines.

Study Spaces

See the Study Rooms page for information on available study rooms and spaces in Olin Library and other Danforth Campus libraries. Olin Library currently has 63 university study cubbies in the southwest area of Level 1, ideal for participating in Zoom classes.

All Olin Library study spaces and seating are currently available first-come, first-served (no reservations).

Noise

Be respectful of other library users and mindful of the surrounding noise level when using Olin Library. The following chart is intended to help users choose study spaces according to desired noise and activity levels. Note that not all areas of Olin Library are represented in the chart. Users are encouraged to explore the library to find the environments that best support their needs.

Looking for spaces where…Try these:
Talking and activity are expected and encouragedLevel 1: Study areas near the Help Desk, Thomas Gallery, and building entrances; Whispers Cafe
Level 2: Risa’s Landing, Morrow Group Study Room 217
Level A: Newman Exploration Center
Talking and other noise-generating activities should be kept to a minimumLevel 2: Roffer Lerner Study Room 215
Level A: Silent Graduate Study Room A30 (no keyboard/laptop usage)
Level B: Quiet Study Room B24; Graduate Study Room B25

Item and Activity Restrictions

  • Please talk on your cell phone only in the staircase landing area on each floor, and keep your phone on silent or vibrate at all times.
  • Running, skating, and similar activities are not allowed. Carry (do not ride) your skateboard, in-line skates, or collapsible scooter in the building; do not place these items where they obstruct pathways or stairways, and do not leave them unattended.
  • Bicycles and non-collapsible scooters are not allowed into the building.
  • For safety reasons, do not stretch electrical cords across or within pathways. Doing so creates a trip hazard.
  • Due to safety and fire regulations, do not linger or sit on staircases.
  • Do not smoke (including e-cigarettes) or chew tobacco. These activities are not allowed anywhere on the Washington University campuses.
  • With the exception of trained service animals, do not bring animals into the library.
  • Balloons are not permitted in the library.

Food and Drink

The University Libraries strive to maintain an environment conducive to user comfort, study, and research while preserving library collections, equipment, and furnishings.

Eating and drinking are permitted in some areas of John M. Olin Library as outlined below. Users can remove their mask(s) when actively eating or drinking where permitted, allowing for personal space as much as possible.

Food and Drink Allowed

  • Food and covered drinks are not generally monitored in most spaces, except the areas listed in the “Restricted Food and Drink Spaces” section below.
  • All food deliveries must be received outside the library.
  • Cooking appliances, such as griddles, hot pots, and crock pots, are not permitted.
  • Users are expected to properly dispose of all food and drink waste.
  • Promptly report all spills to the Help Desk or email CFU-LIBFacilitiesandSafety@email.wustl.edu.

Restricted Food and Drink Spaces

  • The book stacks
  • The Special Collections Reading Room and Mendle Classroom
  • Library Instruction Rooms 1 and 2
  • No food at library computers, microform readers, and DVD/VHS viewing stations; covered drinks allowed
  • No food in Graduate Study Rooms A30; covered drinks allowed

Events

Most Libraries events and programs are currently taking place virtually, with no in-person events in Olin Library. Olin Library spaces are provided primarily to support study, learning, and research. Olin Library spaces are therefore not generally appropriate for campus events. Special events that occur in Olin Library are programmatic to the Libraries or are Libraries sponsored or co-sponsored activities. In the case of such events, Olin Library spaces are reservable only by Libraries staff. Those seeking event spaces for campus activities are directed to Washington University Event Management.

Filming

Permission must be granted by the Libraries in advance in order to film in Olin Library. Requests to film will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as the requested location, duration of filming, and impact on study, learning, and research. To request permission, email Kimberly Singer (ksinger@wustl.edu) at least one week prior to the desired filming date, and include a brief description of the intended project along with the date, time, anticipated duration, and number of people involved.

Tabling

The University Libraries do not offer tabling inside Olin Library or on the grounds outside the library, except by Libraries staff for content that is programmatic to the Libraries.

Posters and Flyers

Do not hang, place, or distribute posters and flyers within or outside the building, except on the bulletin board in Whispers Cafe, near the vending machines and printers. Users are welcome to submit content for display on Olin Library’s digital signage. The complete Libraries Posting Policy is available here.