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Face masks are optional but recommended inside the library to reduce virus exposure, protect vulnerable members of our community, and help maintain staffing levels. Library service hours may vary due to staffing shortage. Books may be returned after hours by using the brown mail box outside the main gate to the campus.  

The Catherine McElvain Library supports the scholars, artists, staff, and members of the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This special collection focuses on anthropology, archaeology, and Native American 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.

CLOSED JUNE 19-23, 2023

In-Person Service: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Email Service: Monday through Friday.

Please contact the library before visiting. Open hours vary according to staff availability, special events may impact visitor parking, and the campus may close unexpectedly during inclement weather. Closed major holidays. Campus map with parking.

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, Oversized books, and SAR Press titles. The collection is cataloged and shelved by Dewey Decimal classification. Comments are welcome concerning better methods of organizing Indigenous subjects, with the goal of social justice.

Borrowing Privileges

Books can be checked out by the SAR community: staff, volunteers, resident fellows, senior scholars, and SAR members. Visiting scholars, independent researchers, and the general public may use materials inside the library for reference only. Library cards are not issued. Instead, the SAR membership card functions as a library card for all members and volunteers. New members may register for a library account through the online catalog. New accounts need to be verified in person by showing a photo ID and a current SAR membership card. Those who join SAR with a family membership will have individual library accounts for each person. Library accounts expire after one year at the same time as the membership.

Books are loaned for 4 weeks at a time, with the option to renew. All books removed from the library must first be checked out from the librarian. There is no self check-out. The library building also contains staff offices for the Scholar Programs Division. 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 along with their membership 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. 


The library subscribes to a variety of professional journals within the field of anthropology, history, and Native American studies. Journals currently received are listed below. 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. Holdings information in the online catalog is not complete. 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.

Gale Academic OneFile: free access to scholarly journals to users within New Mexico provided by the New Mexico State Library.

WorldCat: can be used to search for article citations, books, and other items in library collections worldwide. Note: SAR library books and journal holdings do not appear in WorldCat.

Current Journals

AIQ: American Indian Quarterly
American Antiquity
Annual Review of Anthropology (donation)
Anthropology News
Archaeology Southwest Magazine
Chronicle of Higher Education
Current Anthropology
El Palacio: Art, History, Culture of the Southwest
Journal of Anthropological Research
NAIS: Native American Indigenous Studies
New Mexico Historical Review
Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico

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