John M. Olin Library (Main)

The John M. Olin Library is the central library of the Washington University Library 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. Olin Library is also the location of many general services for the Washington University Libraries.

Olin Library
One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1061
St. Louis, MO 63130
Phone: 314-935-5420

Directions, Maps, & Parking Details

Unit/Service Phone Email address
Administration (314) 935-5400
Digital Library Services (314) 935-8329
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
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.

Building access: Olin Library is accessible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, to users in possession of a valid Washington University ID (WashU ID), with the exception of fall, winter, and spring breaks, WILD, Washington University holidays, and summer, when Olin Library’s hours are shortened. (WU 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 the Washington University community (users in possession of a valid WashU ID).

Visitors: 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: 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.

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 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

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.
  • Report all spills to the Help Desk promptly, so they can be cleaned.

Restricted Food and Drink Spaces

  • No food or drink within the book stacks
  • No food or drink in the Special Collections Reading Room, Mendle Classroom, and the Declaration of Independence exhibit
  • No food or drink in 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

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

Events: 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.

Tabling: The University Libraries do not currently 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.

Balloons: Balloons are not permitted in the library.

Running, skating, and similar activities: Do not engage in these activities. While in the building, carry (do not ride) your skateboard, in-line skates, or collapsible scooter. Do not place these items where they obstruct pathways or stairways, and do not leave them unattended.

Bicycles and non-collapsible scooters: Do not bring bicycles and non-collapsible scooters into the building.

Electrical cords: For safety reasons, do not stretch electrical cords across or within pathways. Doing so creates a trip hazard.

Stairways: Due to safety and fire regulations, do not linger or sit on staircases.

Smoking: Do not smoke (including e-cigarettes) or chew tobacco. These activities are not allowed anywhere on the Washington University campuses.

Animals: With the exception of trained service animals, do not bring animals into the library.

Please visit the Circulation pages for details about Olin Library’s help desk, borrowing privileges, circulation policies, fines and fees, and more.

Faculty studies are available to Danforth Campus faculty on a first-come-first-served basis. Faculty members may request a study by emailing the Head of Access. Graduate Student Lockers are assigned to graduate students on a first-come-first-served basis. Obtain a Graduate Student Locker at the Check-out Desk (Level 1). Day lockers are also available on Levels B, A, 2, and 3; keys are available at the Check-Out Desk. Policy on the use of studies and lockers.
Computers are available on all Levels in Olin. Please see this page for more information: Computing and Printing.
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.
Olin Library has thousands of DVDs. Here’s how to find them.
To see what’s on display, or to request a space for your own exhibit, please see Exhibits in Olin Library.
Please refrain from bringing food into the library. Beverages in covered containers and cans are permissible, as these containers are less likely to spill. Visit our Whispers Cafe page for details about Whispers Cafe hours and menu.
There are five group study rooms on Level 2 along the east side. These rooms are for groups of three or more people. Individual users will be asked to leave if a group wants to use the room. These 5 rooms are also available to be reserved. Reserve a Group Study Room

Graduate study rooms are located on Levels B, A, 2, and 3. Faculty studies are located on the west side of Level 2.

Lost items are kept at the Check-out Desk on Level 1. WU Police pick up the lost items once per day, Monday – Saturday, and transfer them to the WUPD lost & found, which is the central location for those seeking lost items on Danforth Campus. Valuable items such as mobile devices, laptops, and wallets that are not claimed at the Help Desk within 2 hours will be sent to WUPD’s lost & found. For more information, please see WUPD’s Lost and Found.

Microform Scanners & Collections
Location: Level B of Olin Library
There is one ViewScan II and two ViewScan III state-of-the-art microform scanners located on Level B of the Olin Library.

How to Find Microforms
  1. Determine if you are looking for a microfilm, microfiche, or microcard by checking the WU Libraries Catalog.
  2. While looking at the item’s catalog record, make a note of the item’s primary (first) entry in the record. This is most likely the author or title. Also check to see if it is part of a series.
  3. Use the chart below to best determine where your item is located within the collection.
  4. Use signs at the end of each shelf to determine the aisle in which the title is located.
  5. Visit the Interlibrary Loan office around the corner from the scanners for assistance during the hours 8:30-5:00, Monday-Friday. Visit the Help Desk on the first floor for assistance in the evening or on the weekend.
  • Individual titles are often filed under the author’s last name
  • Journals, magazines, and newspapers are filed by title (e.g. New York Times or Time magazine)
  • Items which are part of a series are filed by series title (e.g. STC or Wing reels fall under Early English Books).
Type of microform Description How it is Shelved
Microfiche Approximately 3″x4″ transparent pieces of plastic printed with very small images of documents. Government documents are often printed on fiche. Most fiche are filed alphabetically, by primary entry in the online catalog. Government documents are by the federal government’s classification, or SuDoc, number.
Microcard Opaque cards of various sizes that are printed with very small images of documents. Microcards are filed alphabetically, by primary entry in the online catalog.
Microfilm Approximately 35mm wide rolls of transparent plastic printed with very small images. Microfilm is filed alphabetically, by primary entry in the online catalog.

Students, faculty, and staff who have computers or other devices with wireless capability can access the wireless network on all levels of Olin Library. 
Direct phone lines to the Help Desk are near the restrooms on Levels B, A, 2, & 3.

Courtesy/campus phones may be found in the basement of the Women’s Building; east entrance of Mallinckrodt Center, across from the Bakery; and the south door of Eads on the 1st floor. These phones can be used to make campus and local calls. Dial ‘9’ plus the number for an off-campus call.

Please use your cell phone only in the staircase landing area on each floor. In other areas of Olin, cell phone ringers should be turned off in order to minimize noise and distractions for library users.

Curious about the scripts displayed on the Olin Library plaza? We’ve created a PDF guide about them.
The Libraries provide printing and scanning services to members of the Washington University community (students, faculty, and staff) using color, multi-function printers located throughout the Libraries. These devices provide print and copy services at the same price. Printing is available from all PCs in the Libraries and from personally owned computers with the proper drivers installed.

Printing/Copying Costs
Print and copy charges will be:

  • Black & white, single-sided — $0.04 per image
  • Black & white, two-sided* — $0.06 per sheet ($.03 per image**)
  • Color, single-sided — $0.25 per image
  • Color, two-sided — $0.40 per sheet ($0.20 per image)

*Default print and copy settings are set to black & white, two-sided. Users may choose other options as desired.
**An image is all printing on one side of a sheet of paper.

Check your PaperCut Account Balance 

Printing From Library Computers
Computers in the Library have one print queue installed which allows users to print to library multi-function printers. Libraries The default print queue is “\\\wulib-print”. This queue can be used to print to any multi-function printer in the Libraries. This queue is set to print black & white, two-sided. Users can change printer properties to print single-sided or to print color, either single-sided or two-sided.

Printing From Personally-owned Computers in the Libraries
Printing from personally-owned computers in the Libraries is available provided you have installed the proper software which is available on the STS web site.

Please report problems with the printers to the Helpdesk on Level 1.

Graduate study rooms are located on Levels B, A, 2, and 3. Quiet study rooms for undergraduates are located on Levels B, A, 2, and 3. Faculty studies are located on the west side of Level 2. Please see these floor maps for the locations. Please note that A30 (grads) and A34 (undergrads) have been designated ‘keyboard-free’ rooms – no laptop or other keyboard devices are allowed, to enhance quiet study.
A portable DVD player can be checked out at the Help Desk. For viewing of Blu-Rays and VHS tapes, use the media station located on Level B near the microform machines. Videos and DVDs also can be viewed in Special Collections. Some departmental libraries also maintain video equipment.