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The Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Loeb Library

Report of Hugh Wilburn, Librarian


The Frances Loeb Library supports the educational and research programs of Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD), which offers professional, post-professional, and doctoral degrees in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design. The Design School community includes approximately 550 students; 50 tenured, adjunct, associate, and assistant professors; 50 visiting faculty and design critics; and 100 staff members. The library is also used by students and faculty from throughout the Harvard community, design professionals, and visiting scholars from around the world.

Members of the departments within the Loeb Design Library work collaboratively with other individuals and departments within the library and with colleagues across the University. These relationships are essential as staff members strive to perform their daily work, to implement new policies and procedures, and to plan future objectives. Those activities are detailed in the sections that follow. In addition to cooperative working relationships with librarian colleagues across the University, staff members work with colleagues throughout the Graduate School of Design to support the work of the School and to strengthen the relationship of the library to other departments. Staff members serve on the Design School's Emergency Management Team, Staff and Community Committee, Reward and Recognition Committee, and Advanced Study Programs Advisory Group. Library staff members planned and offered a very successful "Library Walk" event for all members of the GSD staff, to introduce them to the variety of activities and to the staff members of the Loeb Design Library.

Visitors from around the world frequently come to the Loeb Design Library to consult the collections and to learn from the librarians about our organization and resources. This year, our guests included a dean, faculty members, and students from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai, China.

Collection Development

The GSD Student Forum conducted a survey of student opinions about the services of the Design Library and other departments within the School. The results revealed frustration with the lack of availability of the most popular books and journals. Several approaches have been taken to address this issue, including a review of titles with high circulation numbers, evidence of "hold" activity, creation of a list of the design firms currently of interest to the students, and identification of titles in need of additional non-circulating "core" copies in the open stacks. An initial group of second-copy acquisitions has been followed by a program that regularly identifies second-copy candidates to meet the needs of students. Conversations were initiated with our approval-plan vendors to expedite the receipt of multiple copies of books of high interest to our students. Approval plans continue to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary. With a newly streamlined gift-book process firmly in place, the library continues to acknowledge the generous donations from students, visiting scholars, design critics, faculty, and alumni/ae.

Early in the year a project was initiated to weed the collection of extra copies of titles no longer in high demand. This project, a collaborative effort among the departments responsible for circulation, technical services, and collections, included a review of copies for newer editions, a review of physical condition, and an evaluation of circulation records. Appropriate copies were withdrawn and offered to students in the semiannual book sale.

University-wide electronic resource activities benefit Loeb Library's users through our participation in the Committee on Electronic Resources and Services (COERS) and the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee (DACC). This year we coordinated a University-wide license to the Garden Literature Index and initiated a trial of the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals on a new vendor platform offering improved searching capabilities. Work of the DACC included the approval of a number of multi-year journal licenses; ongoing review of issues around the University's Ebrary electronic book license; and review and approval of a new type of resource, RefWorks, a web-based bibliographic management product.


Increased reference-desk activity, which is notable this year, can be attributed, in part, to the in-depth assistance provided to orient patrons to the newly launched "E-Research @ Harvard Libraries" site. Reference staff worked closely with students in one-on-one sessions, explaining the features and setting up "My Research" sites for students.

The library's orientation session for new students was completely redesigned. A new presentation to the assembled incoming students, organized around a case study of Harvard's Carpenter Center, Le Corbusier's only North American building, was supplemented by group tours and instruction. The presentation included tours of the library; instruction on searching in HOLLIS, the Avery Index, and VIA; and tours of the stacks to locate materials. The session included well-illustrated demonstrations of the materials to be found in the Special Collections and Visual Resources departments, orientation to Courseware, and a brief visual introduction to the library departments and staff. A number of "Survival Skills" orientation tours were also offered and were well attended.

In addition to the large group sessions, presentations were made to classes and other groupings within the GSD community. In the late summer, orientation sessions specifically designed for students enrolled in the English as a Second Language program were given, along with a session for the Executive Education program's Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate. Special tours for the Loeb Fellows, doctor of design students, and master of design students were held at the beginning of the fall term. A new initiative this year offered a series of tutorials on the Digital Historic Sanborn Map collection, co-taught with the Design School's GIS specialist, Paul Cote. Several faculty members also requested special sessions for their classes.

The reference department continues to utilize student e-mail announcements and the school's internal web interface (MyGSD) to advertise the availability of research consultations, new resources, and training sessions. Reference services to the broader Harvard community included assistance to 300 undergraduate students enrolled in a Core course on Frank Lloyd Wright.


The volume of books and periodicals that circulated was slightly less than the spike of the prior year, but consistent with recent earlier years. Students continued heavily using the ability to renew their books online through the HOLLIS catalog. Of the 45,151 renewals, 99% were accomplished online. Another popular feature continues to grow in use: the ability through the online catalog to recall a circulating book or place a hold on a book when it is returned.

In response to the Student Forum survey comments about the difficulty in finding books waiting to be shelved, the number of shelving staff was increased and greatly reduced the time between the return of a book (from circulating outside or being used in the library) and its being shelved.

The placement of required course readings in the form of books or periodical articles on reserve at the circulation desk continued to decline in popularity. The number of courses using the reserve service has dropped 15% since 2004, and the number of items placed on reserve has decreased by 40%. Instead, an increasing number of faculty members are using the online reserve services offered by the library in conjunction with the School's implementation of Harvard's Courseware system. We anticipate that this trend will continue.

Technical Services

As part of the Harvard University Library system, the staff of Technical Services implemented version 18.01 of our integrated library system, Aleph. This is the fifth upgrade in five years. Project planning was begun for the library's participation in the Harvard-Google Project, as part of the larger Harvard-wide project to scan titles in the public domain.

Technical Services continues to maintain a backlog-free level of ordering, receiving, and cataloging. A total of 3,635 volumes were added to the library collection, representing a 10% increase over the prior year. The increase is primarily due to the concerted effort of staff members to identify and acquire multiple copies of monograph titles in high demand.

Staff members continue to serve important roles in the cooperative work and numerous committees that carry forward many activities of the Harvard libraries. The department chair is a member of the Aleph Acquisitions, Serials, and Financial committees. She is also a member of the Reporting Working Group for the implementation of the new reporting system (COGNOS) for the University Libraries. She continues to serve on the HUL Standing Subcommittee on Bibliographic Standards and Policy and serves as the Aleph liaison for the Loeb Library. Staff members also represent the library at the monthly Cataloging Discussion Group meeting and participate on the University Problem Solving Team.


The Conservation Department oversees preservation activities throughout the library, focusing on both preventative measures and individual conservation treatments of books and flat paper objects from the rare and circulating collections. During the past year the conservator performed 533 minor and 247 major treatments.

This year the library contributed to two exhibitions outside the GSD: "Team X" in the Netherlands, which made use of nine items from the Alison and Peter Smithson Archive, and an exhibition on modern architecture in Maine, The Maine Perspective, held at the Portland Museum of Art, for which two drawings by Edward Larrabee Barnes were lent. All of these materials required preparatory treatments by the conservator before they could be exhibited.

The project to repair and conserve the books from the library of 19th-century Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson, held in Loeb Library's Special Collections department, is finished. The program was being sponsored by the fundraising efforts of the Frances Loeb Library. An independent contractor was hired to finish the project.

The Conservation Department offered a two-month internship to a student of the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS). The intern had an opportunity to explore a variety of treatment techniques and write conservation documentation, as well as perform examinations, choose housing options, and implement preventative conservation.

Instructional Technology and Library Information Systems

The Loeb Design Library is fortunate to have a department that combines support for library information systems with support for evolving methods of instructional technology and outreach to faculty members. A significant achievement of this department was the completion and staffing of an image-processing facility. Workflows were established to support the activities of the Visual Resources, Special Collections, and Conservation departments. In addition, the Imaging Lab accomplished much of the work funded by the Library Digital Initiative grant and "content creation" grants detailed below in the Visual Resources section of this report.

The department assists faculty, teaching fellows, and staff members using the evolving Harvard learning management system called Courseware and iSites, under the administrative direction of the iCommons group. The use of course web sites by GSD faculty members continues to grow, and the variety of tools they employ continues to expand.

The department head serves as the main point of contact between the GSD and the Presidential Instructional Technology Fellows (PITF) program, which is designed to stimulate and support the development and use of digital applications and materials that enrich the Harvard curriculum. It does so through hiring Harvard students to work with faculty members in creating digital content for course web sites. The department head communicates between the library and the GSD's Computer Resources Group, the Harvard University Library's Office for Information Systems (OIS), and Harvard's University Information Systems (UIS) group. In this role he is responsible for ongoing upgrades, implementations, and troubleshooting for the library's pay-for-print system, staff and public information technology needs, library connectivity, and all library-related software applications for staff members. The department head chairs the library's web group, overseeing the complex organization and evolving content of the library's main information portal.

Visual Resources

Departmental staff devoted much time and attention to a grant from Harvard's Library Digital Initiative (LDI), awarded in April 2004, for a project called "Image Digitization and Cataloging Project to Support Core Course Offerings at the Harvard Design School." A project staff member cataloged images and prepared batches for scanning in the Loeb Design Library's Imaging Lab. A total of 12,000 images were cataloged and prepared for scanning. The project will be completed in the coming fiscal year, and all of the images will be added to VIA, Harvard's online catalog for image collections from around the University.

The Provost's Office awarded the Loeb Library three "content creation" grants to support the creation of digital images for GSD courses: Histories and Theories of Urban Planning and Design, Landscape Technology, and Innovative Constructions: Cases in Modern Japan. As part of these grants, the images created for faculty members are cataloged and uploaded into VIA, where they are available for study by others in the Harvard community.

The department chair is a member of the VIA Steering Committee, which guides the VIA (Visual Information Access) union catalog of visual materials. Efforts this year were focused on increasing the Harvard community's awareness of the system, while also improving the user interface. The department chair also contributed to the ongoing development of the cataloging database for visual materials, OLIVIA (Online Input to VIA). Committee activities included creating guidelines, training and assisting new users, and reviewing the metadata and vocabularies entered into the system. The Loeb Design Library uses OLIVIA to catalog all 35mm slides and digital images and to link catalog records to images stored in the Digital Repository Service (DRS).

The department head also chaired the Librarian's Assembly's Executive Committee during the past year, organizing monthly meetings; supervising four standing committees; and developing, publicizing, and executing two University-wide Assembly meetings for Harvard librarians.

Almost 6,000 new images, as slides and in digital formats, were cataloged for the Visual Resources collections this year. The percentage of images that are available in digital format continues to increase. Of the 75,993 records currently in VIA (representing about one third of our total collection), 19,653 are available as digital images for easy identification and use by Harvard students and faculty members.

Special Collections

Over 800 requests for Rare Book Room titles were received during the past year. Some 218 readers made significant use of the resources of the Le Corbusier Research Collection; this number was augmented by a significant number of casual readers.

The special collections-the papers of designers and design firms-are used by faculty members and students from the GSD and the broader Harvard community. Researchers at every level and from a variety of institutions also make use of our materials. Among the most heavily used collections are the Josep Lluis Sert collection, the CIAM collection, the Alison and Peter Smithson Archive, the Edward Larrabee Barnes collection, and the archives of Hugh Stubbins and Dan Kiley. Additional frequently consulted collections include the Roberto Burle Marx collection, the William L. Phillips Collection, the John Charles Olmsted collection, and the Martin Wagner collection.

Original material received during the year included a rendering of Gund Hall, signed by its architect John Andrews, the gift of Professor Emeritus William Doebele; a sketchbook and associated files assembled by Bremer Pond, former chairman of the Landscape Architecture Department (the gift of Peter MacGregor); and a variety of material from the estate of Franziska Porges Hosken, MArch '44, documenting her years as a GSD student and subsequently as an architect and designer. Hosken was also the author of The Kathmandu Valley Towns and provided additional material related to that study (the focus of a previous gift). Robert Geddes, MArch '50, presented a selection of material documenting his work as a planner and architect. Raphael Bernstein (through the offices of Deborah Martin Kao of the Harvard University Art Museums) donated a substantial collection of photographs by an array of noted architectural photographers focused on the architecture of banks in the US and Canada. Robert D. Bradley (MArch '66) presented the Department, in honor of Jerzy Soltan, a Le Corbusier letter and sheet of sketches addressed to his father, Prentice Bradley (MArch '33).

Two drawings of the Haystack Mountain School from the Edward Larrabee Barnes Collection were included in an exhibition, The Maine Perspective, mounted at the Portland Museum of Art. 

Departmental exhibitions within the past year included a continuation of West Looks East: A Sampling of Titles Focused on Islamic Architecture, Urbanism and Decorative Arts, and Le Corbusier: Architect of Books. The Le Corbusier exhibition was complemented by A Tribute to Jerzy Soltan, the late and much-lamented GSD emeritus professor of architecture.

During the past year, presentations on a variety of themes were given to classes from the GSD, Harvard's Landscape Institute, and the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as to prospective GSD students, the GSD Alumni Council, the reunion classes of 1954-1956, the incoming Class of Loeb Fellows, and Career Discovery sections.

The special collections librarian and the archivist made a presentation to a joint meeting of the Boston Society of Architects and GSD Women in Design groups, of material from the Special Collections by Alison Smithson, Eleanor Raymond, Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, and other women architects, critics, and historians.


The Loeb Design Library once again was the recipient of a gift from the Estate of Helen P. K. Shillaber. An additional $8,763 was received this year, added to the large gift from the estate received last year. Helen Shillaber was the sister of Miss Caroline Shillaber, the former librarian of the Frances Loeb Library from 1963 to 1975. The gift was added to the current-use Friends of the Frances Loeb Library fund.

The Department also received a generous gift of $22,667 from the family of Dan Kiley, which will be used to build a "compensatory archive" of Kiley material, to be solicited from clients and associates.

The Friends of the Frances Loeb Library Fund received gifts from an additional 58 donors for a total of $44,390, including the Shillaber and Kiley gifts.