Welcome to California Historical Society's North Baker Research Library, your gateway to the CHS Collection. The Library is open to the public, free of charge, between 1:00pm and 5:00pm Wednesday through Friday. All are encouraged to visit the Library and explore hands-on the rich history of our state.

Do I need to make an appointment to use the Library?

Appointments are not required. The Library is open Wednesday through Friday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. If you would like to discuss your research interests with library staff in advance of your visit, you may call the reference desk at 415.357.1848 x220 or send email to

What should I bring to the Library?

Please bring a valid photo ID to use the library. Laptop computers are permitted. Storage is provided for your computer case, bag, purse, etc.

How can I find out what is in your collection?

A significant portion of our printed, manuscript, and photography collections are searchable in our online library catalog.

Additional resources containing CHS material can be found on the Search the Collections page.

Some of our collections are only accessible through card catalogs, shelf lists, and finding aids located in the North Baker Research Library Reading Room. Library staff will be happy to answer questions about particular collections or our holdings on a specific subject. From time to time CHS collections are sent off-site for conservation, digitization, or exhibition. Please contact us in advance if you want to view a particular item.

Can I view photographs on the Internet?

A portion of our vast photography collection is available to view online on several websites featured on the Search the Collections page.

Can I borrow from the Library?

Materials from the Library collections are in library use only and do not circulate to individual researchers or other libraries.

How can I get photocopies of Library materials?

Photocopy request forms are available in the library. Photocopying is paid in advance and subject to approval by library staff, based upon preservation and copyright concerns. Photographs are never photocopied and manuscript collections are not usually photocopied in their entirety.

Can I get photocopies without visiting the Library?

Yes. All requests for copies are required in writing, either by letter, e-mail, or fax; we are unable to accept requests made by telephone. A $10 minimum fee applies to all orders sent remotely.

How can I access articles published in your journal, California History?

Articles from past issues of California History (and its predecessors, California Historical Quarterly and California Historical Society Quarterly) are available online through the subscription service Check your local library for access. If you cannot find the article you are looking for, email For a minimum fee of $10, we can provide a PDF or photocopy of the article (limit one article per request).

Do you provide digital scans or images for purchase?

Yes. Please see the Reproductions page.

Can I photograph or scan Library materials myself?

By arrangement you may take a limited number of digital photographs for reference purposes only, using your own camera, without flash. Video/motion picture filming may be arranged and scheduled for a fee. Scanning is not permitted.

Can I view paintings or other artworks from your collection?

Prints and drawings on paper are accessible for viewing in the library. Framed works and pieces located off-site require a scheduled appointment and may incur a charge. Some works might not be publicly available due to fragile conditions or because of loans to other institutions. Please visit the Bridgeman Art Library website to view and purchase select images from our collections.

Would you be able to tell me how much a book (photograph, diary, painting, etc.) is worth?

We cannot provide appraisals or assign values. We can provide the following links to assist you in researching auction sales prices or finding an appraiser:

Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America
American Society of Appraisers
Pacific Book Auction
Bonhams & Butterfields

678 Mission Street
San Francisco
CA 94105
415.357.1848 voice
415.357.1850 fax
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