Harvard College Library-Report of Nancy M. Cline
Today, it seems that the Library’s greatest challenge is to make sure that the faculty and students learn about the exceptional resources they can use through the libraries…and that means finding ways to bridge the digital resources with the wonderful legacy collections, the one-of-a-kind items that might shed new light on a research topic. One of the best things we have to offer to Harvard’s academic programs is the talent and expertise of the Library’s staff. We know that, with so many separate libraries, it is often confusing to know where to begin…so we have been increasingly involved in outreach to academic departments, partnering with faculty members as they prepare courses and identify the materials they want their students to use from the libraries and developing information on HCL’s web site this is findable 24/7. Users approach us as a single entity—“their library”—so we need to achieve a seamlessness to our services.
In every renovation of a library, we look for ways to make our reading rooms and reference areas inviting and welcoming—to make our libraries a special place for students. Loeb Music’s Isham Memorial Library has been renovated and now features better storage and improved connectivity and electrical connections; houses a microfilm scanning station; and offers a more welcoming arrangement of resources with clear sight lines to staff. Improvements were also made to Loeb Music’s video-viewing rooms with the addition of independent video-viewing workstations in the Woodworth Listening Room. Although these improvements have been enthusiastically received by users, we are mindful that the entire building is in need of comprehensive renovations.
In October 2005, the Quad Library opened. Reconfigured from the former multi-level Hilles Library, this single-level library features a variety of seating for study and research, two group study spaces, loaner laptops, and scanners and copiers. Its stack collection includes approximately 25,000 high-use volumes of scholarly works, selected reference materials, and current periodicals.
Years of planning resulted in the Fall 2005 opening of the H. C. Fung Library in the new Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS), bringing together the specialized library collections supporting the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, and Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, as well as services for the Government Department and a general journal collection supported by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, all under the aegis of HCL’s Social Sciences Program. Its clientele runs the gamut: undergraduate and graduate students, research fellows and faculty, dignitaries and scholars from around the world. The Fung Library is adjacent to the Harvard–MIT Data Center.
Enhancing services for our users has included the extension of library hours in a few of the libraries. Undergraduates and graduate students alike often make requests for the longer operating hours. The Library understands the need for enhanced hours; however, budget constraints coupled with increasing operating costs have made this area difficult to address. Some expansion has been made where possible. In Fall 2005 we embarked on a two-year pilot of extended hours in Lamont on a 24/5 schedule, staying open around the clock from Sunday morning at 8 am through Friday at 9:45 pm (with hours from 8 am to midnight on Saturdays). The students have voted with their feet—they are in Lamont, using the hours between 12 and 8 am for study and for borrowing materials. Planning is now under way for a cafe in Lamont that will provide light food service as well as a comfortable place for conversation and collaborative study. Cabot Science Library continues its successful 24-hour coverage during reading and exam periods. This year Houghton Library opened its Reading Room on Tuesday nights. This innovation was very well received, with approximately 30% of Tuesday visitors either staying into the evening or arriving after 5 pm.
In its second full year of operation, the Morse Music and Media unit in Lamont began even more fully to realize the tremendous potential we envisioned for it in the planning period three years ago. Media use in Lamont has become a major factor in library activity as measured in circulation numbers: use of playback equipment doubled between 2004–2005 and 2005–2006. We have increased both HOLLIS installations and facilities for the use of leading-edge resources for media authoring now shared on the network with the Loeb Music Library.
Cabot Library has undergone a quiet redefinition. In February 2006, an open house was held to celebrate the expansion of its services and collections that resulted from the integration of the collections of the Kummel Geological Sciences Library into Cabot. Cabot now holds research collections in pure math, theoretical statistics, geological sciences, and some cross-disciplinary areas such as environmental studies and forest ecology. In support of the undergraduate curriculum, it holds core materials on astronomy, biochemistry, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioremediation, botany, chemistry, ecology, environment, general science, geology, medicine, microbiology, natural history, neuroscience, oceanography, physiology, physics, sustainable agriculture, and zoology. The result has been Cabot’s transformation from a primarily undergraduate library (a credit to its visibility in the Science Center, its broad core collection, and its extended hours) to a research facility whose reference services and circulating collections are used by undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty alike.
Social Sciences Program (SSP) staff observed a number of trends or changes in academic programming that will influence planning for services. Among them was the opening of Harvard’s Center for Geographic Analysis with its focus on research and education in the field of spatial analysis and geographic information. The end of LDI grant funding that allowed us to teach GIS and geospatial analysis techniques to over 650 people this past year means that the new center will absorb part of this work, but not all. We can expect increased demand for our digital cartography and GIS services, including the Harvard Geospatial Library (HGL) as a result. Inquiries to Numeric Data Services by freshmen and sophomores looking for research data have increased. These in particular require in-person consultations and advanced support for new users. “Typical” reference questions are varied; examples include requests for data on the Chinese film industry, media bias on the Iraq War, crime and education in developing countries, Internet video use, locating hedge funds in Monaco, and regional-level government spending in the European Union.
Planning has begun for relocating SSP units now in Littauer to Lamont in 2007. Various scenarios had been considered, and ultimately we concluded that better program alignment would be achieved by keeping the large microform collection and government documents collections in Lamont—both are heavily used by undergraduates and relate closely to services and collections in Widener and Pusey—and drawing the existing Littauer SSP units into Lamont. This move will bring most of the SSP units—Government Documents/Microforms, Numeric Data Services, Environmental Information Services, Harvard Map Collection, and SSP Collection Management—into closer proximity with one another. We are now investigating the impact on reference services within the Lamont building to see how the existing Lamont services and the inbound Social Sciences reference services can become an integrated research service point in Lamont.
Meanwhile, planning continues apace for the renovation of the Fogg Art Museum, an entity based within the Provost’s Office. The Fine Arts Library (FAL) as a “tenant” is working in line with the museum’s plans to be out of the building within the next several years. Since all elements of the plans have an impact on the teaching programs, especially those of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, there is now an integrated planning committee that includes representation from the academic department, the library, and the museum. This committee, working with architects and engineers, has investigated various options involving the uses of the Stirling Building (which now houses the Sackler Museum) and the renovated Fogg, as well as other facilities, to accommodate the interrelated needs of the faculty, the library, and the museum.
The most pressing issue for the FAL has been to find an interim site in which library programs and services could be sustained and collections adequately and securely housed. As a first step, in June 2006, the Fine Arts Library processing staff moved to 625 Mass. Ave., along with the Harvard Film Archive’s preservation unit, which relocated from the Watertown Arsenal.