John M. Olin Library (Main)

Starting September 14, Olin Library will be open for appointment-based services, as well as limited access to the university's Study Cubbies, printing, and scanning, for Washington University faculty, staff, and students. Curbside pickup and numerous remote resources remain available. See below for more details.

  • Access to printing services will be available in Whispers Cafe to persons with a valid WashU ID starting September 14, and University Study Cubbies, additional printers, and the Bookeye scanner are also slated to be available in early fall 2020.
  • All Danforth Campus circulating physical materials are available via a curbside pickup-style service at Olin Library. See our Curbside Pickup page for full details.
  • The Julian Edison Department of Special Collections will be open on a limited basis to researchers by appointment and will offer virtual instruction.
  • Patrons can make an appointment to utilize the microfilm scanner in Olin Library to view film or fische borrowed on Interlibrary Loan or housed in Olin.
  • Visit our Remote Resources and Guidance page for details about how to access our extensive remote services and additional digital content available during this time.

Visit our COVID-19 Updates and Resources page for additional information.

The John M. Olin Library is the central library of the Washington University Libraries system, housing general-interest materials and collections in the humanities, social sciences, and engineering.

You may search library collections in the Classic Catalog or Primo, and by exploring our Articles & Databases. Olin Library is also the location of many general services for the Washington University Libraries.

Please visit the Services and Circulation pages for details about Library services and Olin Library’s Help Desk, borrowing privileges, circulation policies, fines and fees, and more.

Directions, Maps, & Parking Details

Unit/Service Phone Email address
Administration (314) 935-5400
Help Desk: Circulation (314) 935-5420
Help Desk:
Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery
(314) 935-5442
Help Desk: Reference (314) 935-5410
Help Desk: Reserves (314) 935-5451
Special Collections (314) 935-5495

Building Access

As part of the University Libraries’ response to the new COVID-19 policies and practices on campus, the John M. Olin Library building will be closed until further notice. See our COVID-19 response page and our hours page for additional details.

Olin Library is accessible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, to users in possession of a valid Washington University ID (WashU ID). Exceptions include fall, winter, and spring breaks, WILD, Washington University holidays, and summer, when Olin Library’s hours are shortened. (WashU ID card swipe is required for access after 9:00 pm and until 7:30 am daily during 24-hour access periods.) 24-hour access was implemented at the request of Washington University students and is intended to support the study, learning, and research needs of users in possession of a valid WashU ID.

There is an automated door at the north and south entrances to the Library. An elevator is located on each floor. Please see People with Disabilities under Visitors and Other Users for more information.


During 24-hour access periods, visitors and others not in possession of a valid WashU ID may use Olin Library from 7:30 am – 9:00 pm daily. All users without a valid WashU ID are expected to leave the library before 9:00 pm. During breaks, summer, and other periods when the library is not open 24 hours, users without a valid WashU ID are welcome to use the library at all times the library is open. Olin Library hours are listed here.

Identification cards

Bring your WashU ID with you to the library. Users without a WashU ID who wish to use the Libraries’ computers will need a personal ID in order to obtain a temporary login from the Help Desk on Level 1. For safety and security reasons, library staff may request to see a library user’s identification. A valid WashU ID is required to use Olin Library starting at 9:00 pm until 7:30 am daily when the library is open 24 hours.

Closing time

During breaks, summer, and other days when the library is not open 24 hours, 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 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.

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.


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 a space where… Try these:
Talking and activity are expected and encouraged
  • Level 1: Study areas near the Help Desk, Thomas Gallery, and building entrances; Whispers Cafe
  • Level 2: Risa’s Landing, Group Study Rooms 204-208, and 217
  • Level A: Newman Exploration Center
Talking and other noise-generating activity should be kept to a minimum
  • Level 2: Quiet Study Rooms 210, 212, and 215; Graduate Study Rooms 213 and 214; Faculty Study Room 219
  • Level 3: Quiet Study Room 323; Graduate Study Room 326
  • 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.

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

Restricted Food and Drink Spaces

  • The book stacks
  • The Special Collections Reading Room, Mendle Classroom, and the Declaration of Independence exhibit
  • 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 or 326; covered drinks allowed

Scheduled, University Libraries sponsored and co-sponsored events that include food or drink must be approved by Libraries Administration.


Olin Library spaces are provided primarily to support study, learning, and research. Therefore, Olin Library spaces are 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.


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 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.


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, following these instructions. The complete Libraries Posting Policy is available here.

Plaza Scripts

Curious about the scripts displayed on the Olin Library plaza? We’ve created a PDF guide about them.