The Harvard Depository  

The Facility

Background and Design

Harvard Depository ShelvesThe Harvard Depository storage facility is modular by design, so that additional storage units can be added as needed. The site will allow for the eventual construction of 15 main storage units, amounting to approximately 200,000 square feet of storage space, with a capacity of three million linear feet of shelving. The Depository's offsite location provides a secure yet accessible point from which materials can be retrieved rapidly when needed.

The first Harvard Depository storage module was opened in 1986, with a second unit added in 1991. Construction of a third module—and of a high-rise cold-storage vault—was completed in 1995. To keep pace with the demand for offsite storage space, a fourth Depository module was added in 1996. Two larger modules were completed in mid-1999, with each unit offering a storage capacity of 1.5 times that of the original individual modules. In 2004, a large unit was completed for the storage of temporary departmental records. Main module seven, a 19,000 square foot archival expansion, opened in fall 2009.

The Harvard Depository's primary service responsibility is to meet the storage and retrieval needs of the University's libraries, archives, and administrative offices. By combining state-of-the-art construction with a streamlined service operation, the Depository is able to provide depositors with an extraordinarily high level of physical control, environmental protection, and inventory security for their collections. The Depository is also committed to providing archival-quality storage in a cost-effective manner.

Climate-Controlled Storage Environment

The Harvard Depository has been designed specifically to provide an archival-quality storage environment for books and other paper-based materials, one that will stabilize the condition—and extend the useful life—of these materials. While the Depository's preservation environment is ideally suited for paper-based materials, other media formats are also appropriately stored in the archival environment, such as motion picture film, microforms, and magnetic tapes.

The following features of the Depository ensure a clean and stable preservation environment:

  • an integrated climate-control system monitors storage conditions within the stacks on a continuous cycle;
  • temperature within the main storage area is maintained at an average of 45° F; humidity is maintained at an average 35% RH;
  • film storage vaults have a fixed temperature setting of 40° F and humidity is maintained at an average 30% RH;
  • sophisticated air circulation and filtering devices enhance the storage environment by removing damaging particles and gases;
  • UV-shielded fluorescent lamps on sensors minimize the damaging effects on media of long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation;
  • acid-neutral book storage trays prevent the spread of acids that may leach from paper-based materials.

Media Storage and Tracking

The Harvard Depository is a high-density storage facility that uses storage space in a highly efficient manner. The following steps are among those taken at the Depository to maximize storage space and to provide accurate tracking of stored materials:

  • Items arriving at the Depository for storage are sorted by size and stored on appropriately-sized shelves. For book collections, each book's size—not its subject or author—dictates where it gets shelved.
  • Adjustable shelving is employed throughout the facility. Each shelf can be set to the height required by the material being stored. This flexibility enables the Depository to avoid the problem of wasted space found throughout typical library book stacks.
  • Depository clients are required to attach barcode label identifiers to all items prior to transfer to the Depository. Clients are responsible for maintaining an accurate catalog of all items transferred, one that links each cataloged item to its proper barcode.
  • Barcode information is recorded at the Depository by means of portable, hand-held, laser-scanners. Barcode data are used to to identify, track, and locate all stored materials.
  • Quick and accurate access to stored items is supported by the Depository's sophisticated computerized inventory-tracking system.

Media Access and Retrieval

Access to the Harvard Depository's stacks is restricted to HD staff only.

Retrieval requests are submitted electronically to the Depository to facilitate data processing and maintain the accuracy of each request. Requests for most library materials can be submitted through HOLLIS (Harvard's online library catalog).

For any materials not retrievable through HOLLIS, library staff should use the Depository's online Media Retrieval Request Form. This form can also be accessed via the Online Forms for Requesting Services page. Non-HOLLIS orders are restricted to library staff who have been authorized to submit retrieval requests and sign for receipt of materials. If a client is temporarily unable to submit retrieval orders through HOLLIS, or by means of the Depository's online form, such requests may be submitted as follows: via e-mail (HD Circulation Desk), telephone (508.481.3224), or fax transmission (508.481.3837).

Library patrons with valid Harvard IDs can submit retrieval requests for Depository items only through HOLLIS or by contacting the circulation desk of the library that owns the item. Library patrons cannot retrieve materials by contacting the Depository directly. Access to Harvard University records material stored at the Depository is restricted to the depositor of origin. All requests for the retrieval of University records must be arranged by contacting the Records Management Services in the University Archives (T. 617.495.5961).

The Depository requires that retrieval requests include the barcode identification number for each item being sought. Requested materials are delivered to clients via the Depository's courier service. Deliveries are normally made on the business day following receipt of a request (Monday through Friday, holidays excluded).

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