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Visit the Library

The entrance to Friends Historical Library

The library is closed to the public until further notice.  Please see COVID-19 information at the link above.  During this period of closure, our staff will work to provide digital scans of our materials insofar as we are able.  You may email requests to .

General access information (when COVID precautions are not in place)

The Friends Historical Library is available to anyone, and no appointment is necessary.

Visitors do not need to be affiliated with Swarthmore or with any institution at all. If you do not have a specific research question, please come inside to browse our pop-up exhibit.

Upon arrival at the library, we will ask for photo identification to photocopy onto our researcher registration form [pdf]. It does not have to be an official or government document; any card that matches your photograph to your name will do.

Open to the public:

  • Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

  • Select Saturdays 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.  When coming on Saturdays, patrons must call or email ahead to request materials. 

Closed to the public:

  • November 26-27, 2020
  • December 24, 2020 - January 3, 2021
How to Find the Library

Friends Historical Library is located on the main floor of McCabe Library on the Swarthmore College campus on Route 320 in the Borough of Swarthmore. The McCabe Library Building is located at the center of the campus. It is a large, stone building with long, narrow windows and a mansard roof.

Use the Directions to Swarthmore College to find the campus and for information about food and lodging. Wayfinding for Blind & Low Vision Visitors.

If you have limited mobility and require accessible parking, turn into campus on College Avenue. There are five wheelchair-accessible parking spots next to the Library. Otherwise park by the Visitor's Center at Benjamin West House, just south of College Avenue on Rte 320. The row of spaces with dark red lines nearest to campus is reserved for visitors. You will see McCabe Library on the hill above you. When you walk in the front door, turn left to find Friends Historical Library. Interactive campus map.

Parts of the campus are currently under construction, and finding parking during mid morning and mid afternoon hours may be difficult. Please consider the public parking at the South Entrance as an alternative.

Planning for your visit

No appointment is necessary to visit the Friends Historical Library. However, if you are travelling from a distance, we recommend you send an email to to let us know what dates you plan to come and what materials you hope to use, so we can confirm that the library will be open and the materials will be available. A small percentage of our materials are currently stored off-site, and this should be indicated in the catalog for these materials. Off-site materials require two-weeks advance notice for retrieval.

If you are planning to visit on a Saturday (see "Hours" section for a listing of what Saturdays FHL is open in the current semester), you must call or email in advance with your requests, so that we can have materials ready in advance of your visit. 

The climate control in the McCabe Library Building can be extreme, especially in the summer time. Researchers are advised to dress in layers, including a warm sweater or jacket.

We do allow photography of most materials, so you may wish to bring a digital camera or cell phone with a camera.

It may be helpful to review our Research Room Rules [pdf] before you arrive.


Please see our Copies and Permissions page.

Overnight Accommodations

Need to stay overnight near Swarthmore? Located just a few minutes from the College, Pendle Hill is a Quaker study, retreat, and conference center welcoming all for Spirit-led learning and community. Their bed & breakfast service is perfect for short stays. Some of our visitors working on larger research projects choose Pendle Hill for longer-term sabbatical or personal retreat accommodations. Visit Pendle Hill website

Internet Access

SwatGuest wireless accounts for use while in the Library can be created for up to 7 days. FHL guests need only to provide a valid email address to send account notification to. A guest wireless account allows you to register your personal computing devices for use on the Swarthmore wireless network. SwatGuest wireless access is available in all academic and dorm buildings on campus, but does not allow access to campus printers or file servers. More information is available at


Restrooms are located in the main College Library (McCabe), either one floor above or one floor below the Reading Room of Friends Historical Library; please follow the signs on each floor. A gender-neutral wheelchair accessible restroom is available on the second floor; there is an elevator past the McCabe Circulation desk.

Funding to Research at FHL

Funding is available for research at the Friends Historical Library. Outside researchers (including independent scholars as well as graduate students and professors) are eligible for the Moore Research Fellowship. There is also a Moore fellowship for current Swarthmore students