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Harvard Library's Borrow Direct Leads to Better, Deeper, Richer Service

August 29, 2011—Harvard's new Borrow Direct service enables the University's faculty, staff, and students to borrow books and other circulating library materials from the libraries of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale when they're not available at Harvard.

The new service, which the Library "soft-launched" in June, is reflects the Library's mandate to collaborate ambitiously with its peers.

"This is a significant step in collaboration for Harvard," says Helen Shenton, executive director of the Harvard Library. "We are delighted to be joining forces with our peers in order to provide a better, deeper, and richer service for all of our patrons."

By logging on to the Borrow Direct catalog with a Harvard ID and PIN, library patrons can request

  • books that normally circulate from the Borrow Direct "partner collections"
  • books owned by Harvard, but currently checked out

Materials requested through Borrow Direct generally arrive within four business days at one of the 14 user-designated pickup points across the University.

"Borrow Direct is a dedicated service among a small subset of the nation's best research libraries," states Matthew Sheehy, the Harvard Library's Head of Access Services. "Borrow Direct is a partnership among peers who provide a customer service level that's above and beyond traditional interlibrary loan services."

Borrow Direct has successfully shared approximately one million items across the partnership since it was initiated in 1999. Borrow Direct services continue to evolve: Harvard will begin lending books to the partners late in September, while MIT is expected to become an active partner later in the fall.

"Through Borrow Direct," says Sheehy, "the University is engaging with a larger library community, providing new and higher levels of support for scholarship, and offering access to aggregated collections of nearly 50 million volumes."

Borrow Direct is one of Harvard's five "Get It" services, which include HOLLIS, HOLLIS Classic, Scan & Deliver, and Interlibrary Loan.

To determine which "Get It" service meets your research needs—books, articles, DVDs, microforms, and more—visit http://lib.harvard.edu/libraries/getit.html.

"These are tiered services that maximize your access and expand your resources," Sheehy observes. "These services also ask you, as a researcher, to be knowledgeable about your choices and mindful of your own timeframe: engagement and knowledge and thoughtfulness are critical. It's about digging deeper into research materials—at Harvard and beyond."


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