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The SAR campus is open during business hours but staffing levels continue to fluctuate with the covid pandemic. All visitors should wear masks indoors on the SAR campus, regardless of vaccination status. Library appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, email the librarian: wolf@sarsf.org. Books may be returned after hours by using the brown mail box outside the main gate to the campus.  

American Anthropological Association (AAA) COVID-19 Resources.

The Catherine McElvain Library is a special library serving the scholars, artists, staff, and members of the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The collection is focused on anthropology, archaeology, and Native American art. The library resources and services are part of SAR’s support for comparative research on human prehistory and multiple dimensions of human social life, ranging from how people make a living in difficult environments to how they create meaning through language, ritual, and art. 

The collection is open to the public for research and anyone who joins SAR may check out books. For SAR members, a current membership card functions as a library card.

Service Hours: In-person service on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Appointments are recommended. Email and phone service available Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Library service is provided by one staff person. When the librarian is not available, books may be used on the premises only. Please contact the library before visiting, particularly during inclement weather when the campus may close unexpectedly.

Email: library@sarsf.org     Phone: 505-954-7234

Librarian & Archivist: Katherine Wolf, MLIS

Catherine McElvain Library, photo by Jose Cruzado Coronel

Collections & Services

The online catalog provides access to approximately 10,000 books and includes lists of titles to browse on a variety of subjects. The book collection ranges from general interest titles to cutting-edge anthropological research.

Catherine McElvain Library

Staley Prize and new book shelves flank the entrance to the stacks

The library has a strong basic anthropology collection with emphasis on innovative research in the major subdisciplines: archaeology, cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. A large part of the collection is devoted to Native American history and culture, particularly the arts. The American Southwest and Mesoamerica are geographic focus areas, however there are also many ethnographies of cultures around the world. There are separate areas to browse for New Books, Staley Prize Winners, the Southwest Collection, Oversize art books, and SAR Press titles. The collection is cataloged and shelved by Dewey Decimal classification, although the library is seeking better methods of organizing Indigenous subjects and welcomes comments.

Borrowing Privileges

Books can be checked out by staff, volunteers, resident fellows, and SAR members. Visiting scholars, researchers, and the general public may use materials in the library for reference only. Library cards are not issued, but members and volunteers must show their SAR membership card and photo ID to register for a library account. Books are loaned for one month at a time, with the option to renew. All books removed from the library must be checked out from the librarian. There is no self check-out. The library building also contains staff offices for the Scholar Programs Department. As a result, the building may be open and access to the collection available at times without library service. In the absence of the librarian, the library is open for independent study and books may be used on the premises only.

Interlibrary loan (ILL) of books and articles from university libraries across the country is available to all resident fellows and staff. Simply email your title request directly to the librarian. SAR members may purchase interlibrary loan service as an added benefit at the time of their annual membership renewal or purchase for an additional $50. ILL books may come from libraries within the state or from across the nation and take up to three weeks to arrive. Loan periods vary widely and are determined by the lending library. Renewals are not guaranteed. ILL books must be returned by the due date. Late returns will result in the loss of ILL privileges. 

Rare Books, Archives, Digital Collections

The library has a small collection of rare books that are listed in the catalog but are not on public view. A special collection of volumes donated by Dr. William Y. Adams traces the development of anthropological thought from the 16th century. Researchers may request rare books for reference use inside the library. The archives in the library are primarily institutional records and personal papers that document SAR’s long history. Archival materials are accessible by appointment only. However, digitization is currently in progress and images of archival documents and photographs are available online as part of the New Mexico Digital Collections.


The library subscribes to a variety of professional journals within the field of anthropology, history, and Native American studies, including a selection of journals published by the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Current journals are listed below and recent issues are on display in the library lobby. Issues from the last two to five years are accessible in the open book stacks. Older issues, along with the bulk of our periodical holdings, are stored in closed stacks and will be retrieved by the librarian upon request. With the exception of some annual publications, most periodicals cannot be checked out, but the library has a self-serve photocopier that will print or scan to PDF format.

Periodical Holdings List

The library’s periodical holdings are extensive, dating back to the late nineteenth century, including newsletters, society papers, conference proceedings, reports, bulletins, and a range of SAR publications. A selection of SAR annual reports from 1907 to 2005 are online at the New Mexico Digital Collections. Some of our periodical titles are listed in the online catalog, however, the holdings information is incomplete. For a full list of our holdings, see the link above to the PDF document.

Article Databases are not available through the library due to the high cost of database subscriptions, plus the fact that many of our resident scholars already have access through their university affiliations. Researchers within New Mexico have free access to scholarly journals online, some full-text, in Gale Academic OneFile through the State Library’s El Portal. The web version of Worldcat (worldcat.org) can also be used to search for journal article citations. Please note that the SAR library is not a member of Worldcat, so our books and periodical holdings do not appear in their database.

Current Journals

AIQ: American Indian Quarterly
American Anthropologist
American Antiquity
American Ethnologist
Annual Review of Anthropology
Anthropology News
Archaeology Southwest Magazine
Chronicle of Higher Education
Current Anthropology
El Palacio: Art, History, Culture of the Southwest
Journal of Anthropological Research
Journal of Latin American Caribbean Anthropology
Journal of the Southwest
Latin American Antiquity
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Museum Anthropology
NAIS: Native American Indigenous Studies
New Mexico Historical Review
PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review
SAA Archaeological Record
Visual Anthropology Review

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