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Harvard College Library-Report of Nancy M. Cline



We attempt to reach students through our web site, through classes, through reference consultations, or wherever the opportunity arises. Our course-related instructional program is in large part defined by HCL’s Library Liaison Program, which became more formalized this past year in an effort to provide outreach to the many academic departments, programs, and committees in FAS. Research librarians often provide library instruction for the tutorials and concentration courses for an assigned department, freshman seminars, summer-school courses, and Core classes.

Last fall, students expressed concern that the coursepacks for large Core courses were quite expensive, and an analysis indicated that many articles in these publications were available for free within the licensed subscriptions for e-resources. A small sampling of 33 coursepacks showed that 46 to 73% of the journal items were available electronically. Working with the College’s Core Office, and with the FAS Instructional Computing Group, the Library pursued several key steps intended to reduce the cost of these items and save students money. Library liaisons are available to work with academic departments to inform them about the extensive range of licensed e-content to which they can create links from course web sites; the Library instructions on linking are posted on HCL’s web site, and we will provide a session this fall for teaching fellows.

An exciting instructional opportunity arose in FY 2006, when HCL was approached by the Expository Writing Program to provide a library segment in each Expos course. Previously the Library had provided instruction for only 30% of Expos courses. A team of librarians from across HCL worked closely with Expos preceptors to develop a library instructional module to be integrated into every Expos course, beginning with a pilot program in the spring semester; a fuller implementation is planned for Fall 2006. The principles in the curriculum include: basic research skills; understanding Harvard’s expectations re: research; the complexity of the Harvard Library system and its vast resources (HOLLIS, etc.); proper use and citation of resources (to help avoid plagiarism); when to use scholarly vs. popular resources; and the difference between primary and secondary resources. The classes have included Law of the Internet, Childhood and Its Literature, Human Rights, Globalization, Sacco and Vanzetti, and Responsibility, the Brain, and Behavior…as well as planning for new undergraduate courses in life sciences and physical sciences. HCL is very pleased to have this opportunity to reach all freshmen through the Expos classes and help to give them a solid foundation of library-related skills upon which they can build.

Notable examples of classes that Houghton staff have participated in include: an English department class on illustrated Victorian literature; a seminar for new graduate students in African-American studies; art and art history classes on artists’ books and relief printing; a philosophy seminar; and, perhaps the year’s most extraordinary class, a freshman seminar in which a dozen students engaged in close study of individual Books of Hours in Houghton Library, producing a very popular exhibition and catalog at the end of term.

Cabot Science Library reference staff contributed to a number of instructional initiatives in FY 2006, including: Psychology 970 (sophomore tutorial); Science B62 (Human Mind) and Life Sciences 1B; and the week-long Freshman Concentration and Academic Planning Fair. In FY 2007, Cabot Library expects to continue with science-related resource instruction, including expanding to freshman seminars, additional Core courses, and other tutorials.

Loeb Music Library reports that staff have experienced growing demand for more extensive interaction with faculty and students than ever before and have invested considerably more time working with classes—often those of new faculty. This work has involved attending the class (often more than once), offering instruction on archiving class research documents, creating online guides, linking library resources to course web pages, guiding student exhibits, and engaging in major productions such as the Bernstein Festival at Harvard.

The type and scope of queries answered by the Map Collection staff continued to be varied and challenging, from computer mapping of salamander samples and toxicity in Acadia National Park to historical geopolitical reference maps of correspondence in 19th-century Europe. Staff maintained a public-service environment responsive to requests for digital maps as well as answering innumerable queries using their more traditional paper collections. The Harvard Geospatial Library (HGL) approached 5,000 data layers and had 210,000 requests; GIS instruction reached over 650 people; and cataloging was improved for antiquarian map collections from New England to Virginia—all signaling the heavy use of these collections and services. Upgraded technology infrastructure allowed for a greatly improved large-format scanning service and increased commitment to digital imaging of historical maps for preservation and security.

Beyond the course-related instruction, the librarians have also offered a wide variety of special presentations, including: GSAS orientation workshops; sessions on the use of numeric databases and geospatial data; research presentations to the transfer students displaced by Hurricane Katrina; iSite presentations for Romance Languages and Literatures tutors; and, research methods for History Department teaching fellows. Libraries such as Houghton and Loeb Music are responding to a growing demand from faculty to integrate primary materials such as manuscripts and scores into FAS courses.

The cohort of librarians conducting instructional support is not limited to research and reference staff, as bibliographers have also been involved in this aspect of user services. Bibliographers have worked collaboratively with their public-services colleagues in providing instruction to all sections of English 10a—the gateway course for English concentrators, participating in an orientation session for new History graduate students, and in developing iSite research guides for Germanic Languages and Literatures and Renaissance Studies. The language expertise possessed by the bibliographers and selectors adds a critical element to our instructional programs.

Increasingly, librarians provide outreach by bringing their expertise to where the users are. For example, a science librarian regularly assisted with reference at Lamont Library. The environmental resources librarian provided reference service in five locations this past year, demonstrating the breadth of service needs in this area: Cabot Science Library, Government Documents/Microforms, Littauer Library, the Harvard University Center for the Environment offices in the Geological Museum, and online.

In Fall 2005, HCL redesigned its web site to create a research tool for library users, and among its features are links to a wide range of online research guides. We have seen the experienced content experts from reference/research programs working shoulder-to-shoulder with the communications/web teams to produce high-quality web content, to respond to concerns about updating all our research guides (approximately 150), and to delve into ways that the library can participate in the FAS’s move to course web sites. The Library has increasingly shifted to using iSites as the format for the creation of research guides, as they allow for the use of multimedia and can be easily linked to course web sites. iSite research guides have been created for a range of disciplines such as film studies (Reel Research), classical and medieval studies (Inter Libros), and romance languages and literatures (RLL Research).

The Library also achieves outreach to the Harvard community in the many special events the Library hosts each year—lectures, poetry readings, chamber-music concerts, and exhibitions of collections materials. The Library also continues to generate publications in the form of catalogs, such as Picturing Prayer: The Book of Hours in the Middle Ages, and other scholarly writings, including the Harvard Library Bulletin. In May 2006, Harvard Review launched its new user-friendly web site, and, for the fifth consecutive year, contributors to Harvard Review have been selected for the prestigious Best American Series.