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Administration & Programs

Harvard Depository


The Harvard Depository (HD), which completed its 20th year of service in FY 2006, is a high-density, offsite storage facility shared by the Harvard libraries and located 30 miles west of Cambridge. Research libraries and consortia worldwide have emulated the innovative design of the Harvard Depository.


As of the end of FY 2006, the Depository held in storage nearly 6.4 million items comprising various media, including books, records boxes, microformats, films, etc. Of this number, books make up approximately 5.8 million items.

New Accessions

New accessions in FY 2006 were 481,606 discrete items, approximately the same level as the previous year. Books made up the majority of new accessions, with approximately 475,000 individual volumes accessioned. Widener Library transferred 182,175 new items to the HD in FY 2006. Other Harvard library clients with substantial transfer rates were the Harvard Law School Library (52,034); Harvard–Yenching Library (43,828); Littauer Library (26,759); Gordon McKay Library (12,972); Tozzer Library (11,481); and the Physics Research Library (7,562).


223,707 items were retrieved in FY 2006, exceeding by 30,000 the historical rate of 3% of total holdings. Of these, nearly 20,000 were retrieved for cataloging projects. Library users placed 130,909 retrieval requests using the HOLLIS HD request interface. The use of this request method increased by 5% over the previous year. All non-HOLLIS requests for services and supplies are submitted through interactive forms on the HD web site. There were 11,716 retrieval requests from Widener Library’s Interlibrary Loan department in FY 2006, which is an increase of 17.3% from FY05.

Ten depositors submitted more than 2,000 retrievals each, some substantially more than 2,000, and made up 88% of all retrievals. The courier vans made 8,481 customer deliveries to 5,463 locations over the course of the fiscal year, an average of 22 individual stops per day for circulation. Among these stops, the couriers delivered to clients 65,678 BSF (book storage feet: one records box is the equivalent of 2.21 BSF) of retrieved material, and brought back to the HD 42,154 BSF of material to be reshelved. The HD staff continued its excellent performance by successfully fulfilling 100% of the valid retrieval requests that were submitted, a remarkable achievement that has become an expectation among clients. The HD now runs three courier vans on a daily basis.

Physical Space

At the end of FY 2006, stored media occupied 1,044,272 BSF, a net increase of approximately 49,867 BSF in FY 2006, or nearly 82% of existing capacity, excluding the film vault. In the film vault, 17,093 BSF were occupied of a total of 19,386 BSF, or 88% of capacity. New transfers to the HD in FY 2006 comprised 89,911 BSF; continuing consolidation of shelves and withdrawal of records boxes create the lower net increase in assigned shelf space.

At a new archival accession rate of 55,000 BSF per year, the HD should have storage capacity for no more than four years. Therefore, the next storage module is being planned for construction beginning in April of 2008 and will be completed by August of 2009. The new module will have sufficient capacity for five more years of growth, at the minimum, 2010 through 2015. The capital project will also include additional film cold storage capacity of a minimum of 20,000 BSF.

JSTOR Dark Archive Project

Beginning in FY 2005 and continuing under a two-year agreement, a non-circulating archive was created at the HD of paper material digitized in the JSTOR journal database. By the end of FY 2006, the archive represented 83% of the database, with supplemental volumes arriving daily. Meanwhile, a continuation of the agreement was being negotiated to include the journal titles added to the archive after the initial agreement was struck, more than 15 million additional pages.