Library Access Policy | Mechanics' Institute

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Library Access Policy

The Mechanics Institute Library is open to the public without charge for a short visit to learn more about its facilities and services. (Click here to learn about becoming a member.)

The Library welcomes visitors during normal operating hours. Our staff is ready to answer any questions you might have about the Mechanics' Institute. We provide free weekly tours every Wednesday at noon and one evening tour quarterly. Our beautiful archival exhibit case on the 2nd floor has changing displays every 6–8 weeks.

Research Services

Although primarily a library for the general reader, there is considerable potential for research. Our special collections and archives are quite diverse in subject matter and are used by a variety of researchers, historians, authors and genealogists.

We welcome research queries about our:

  • Archives
    • Chess Club Records, Photographs, Tournaments, 1883–present
    • Mechanics' Institute History: Bylaws, Historic Minutes, Historic Membership records, Photographs, 1857–present
    • Mechanics' Institute Industrial Exhibitions, 1857–1899
  • Special Collections
    • Industrial Expositions and World's Fairs, 1894–1962
    • Californiana, 1840–present
    • Western Americana early 1800s–present
    • Chess Books and Journals, late 1700s–present

Our Reference desk is staffed by librarians Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.