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Borrow Direct: An FAQ for Harvard Library Staff

Updated May 20, 2011

1. What is Borrow Direct (BD)?

Borrow Direct is a rapid book request and delivery system. It enables current Harvard faculty, staff, and students to search the library catalogs of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale—an aggregate collection of over 50 million volumes—and to directly request expedited delivery of circulating items from non-Harvard locations.

2. How is Borrow Direct different from Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary loan requires library staff mediation to submit a request. With the Borrow Direct service, patrons will be able to place requests online without library staff mediation. Materials received from another Borrow Direct library will be checked out to the patron's Harvard Library account.

3. When will Borrow Direct be available to Harvard users?

NEW We anticipate a mid-June date on which Harvard borrowers will be able to place their first requests through Borrow Direct. When that date is set, Harvard borrowers will see links in the HOLLIS catalog and from other library web pages that will help them navigate to the Borrow Direct catalog.

4. When will Harvard lend material through Borrow Direct?

NEW Additional system development is required to ensure that materials are appropriately profiled for lending through Borrow Direct. Provided that this additional development goes as planned, Harvard will begin to lend through Borrow Direct in late July.

5. Which Harvard libraries will lend through Borrow Direct?

The initial launch of Borrow Direct at Harvard will be limited to a few lending libraries, as we test service models and determine the best-practice approach prior to expanding lending from other Harvard libraries. The collections included in the initial implementation will include: Countway, Divinity, Widener, and the collections for those libraries held at HD. However, regardless of whether a library is participating as a loaning library, their patrons will be eligible to request items via Borrow Direct.

6. How does Borrow Direct work?

Upon implementation, members of the Harvard community will use their current IDs, PINs, and established library privileges to place Borrow Direct requests online through the BD catalog interface. When the book is received at Harvard, users will receive a message that the material is available for pickup and the book will be checked out directly to the patron in Aleph.

7. What can be requested through Borrow Direct?

  • books and printed music not owned by Harvard libraries
  • books and printed music that are currently unavailable at Harvard; e.g., charged out, lost, missing, at the bindery, etc.
  • books and printed music that normally circulate from the BD partner collections

8. What cannot be requested through Borrow Direct?

  • books and printed music currently available for loan at Harvard
  • journals, magazines, newspapers, and other serials
  • photocopies of articles or other materials
  • reference books, microfilm, and other non-circulating materials
  • audiovisual materials (DVDs, videos, CDs with some exceptions)
  • electronic books, journals, and other e-resources
  • special collections and/or rare materials

9. How will materials be delivered?

NEW Most materials will arrive within four business days. Individual borrowers will receive an e-mail notice when a requested item is available for pickup. Harvard patrons are given the option of choosing one of 14 pickup locations.

10. Which libraries will serve as Borrow Direct pickup locations?

NEW The following Harvard libraries will serve as pickup locations for Borrow Direct:

  • Andover-Harvard Theological Library
  • Baker/Knowledge and Library Services
  • Cabot Science Library
  • Countway Library of Medicine
  • Fine Arts Library
  • Gutman Library
  • Harvard Kennedy School Library and Knowledge Services
  • Harvard Law School Library
  • Harvard-Yenching Library
  • Lamont Library
  • Loeb Design Library
  • Tozzer Library
  • Widener Library
  • Wolbach/Harvard-Smithosonian Center for Astrophysics

These libraries all currently have daily (Monday–Friday) University Mail Services delivery/pickups.

11. Is there a fee for requesting items through Borrow Direct?

This service is free of charge to library patrons.

12. How long can I keep the material that I borrow through Borrow Direct?

Six weeks, subject to recall by the owning library. A one-time renewal for an additional six weeks is generally available.

13. How are Borrow Direct materials returned?

NEW Patrons may return their Borrow Direct materials to any Harvard Library, which, in turn, will deliver the material to Widener through Harvard University Mail Services. Widener will batch all returned items for shipment to the lending institution.

14. Who will be leading Harvard's implementation of Borrow Direct?

Helen Shenton has charged a project board with leading the Library's Borrow Direct implementation. Members of the project board include: Marilyn Wood (Harvard College Library), chair; David Osterbur (Countway); Ken Peterson (Harvard College Library); Tracey Robinson (Office for Information Systems); Matthew Sheehy (Harvard Depository); and Suzanne Wones (Harvard Law School Library).

15. Who will represent Harvard in Borrow Direct discussions about collection development?

Dan Hazen (Harvard College Library) will be the liaison to the BD Collection Development group and will consult widely across the Harvard Library.

16. How can I learn more about this service?

This FAQ will be updated as planning for implementation continues. It is posted on the Borrow Direct iSite: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k78982. The iSite provides additional information about Borrow Direct as well as options for submitting feedback or questions. You may also contact members of the project board.

Borrow Direct iSite

March 15 version
February 28 version


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