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Administration & Programs

Harvard Depository


The Harvard Depository (HD), which completed its 21st year of service in FY 2007, 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 2007, the Depository held in storage nearly 6.9 million items comprising various media, including books, records boxes, microformats, films, etc. Of this number, books and archival material comprise approximately 6.3 million items.

The Harvard–Google Project is taking advantage of the large number of public domain books located at the HD. A project team of HD staff began work in March 2007 retrieving eligible books for the project and will continue through the project’s end. The collections housed at the Depository will make a substantial contribution to the success of the project, as a high proportion of the collections were transferred into the archival environment due to low-use and book condition.

New Accessions

New accessions in FY 2007 were 514,457 discrete items, 7% more than the previous year. Books made up the majority of new accessions, with approximately 508,000 individual volumes accessioned. Widener Library transferred 203,135 new items to the HD in FY 2007.

Other Harvard library clients with substantial transfer rates were:


          Harvard Law School Library


          Harvard Yenching Library (Harvard College Library)


          Harvard-Yenching Library (Harvard College Library)


          Gordon McKay Library (School of Engineering and Applied Science)


          Government Documents (Harvard College Library)


          Fine Arts Library (Harvard College Library)


          Andover–Harvard Theological Library (Harvard Divinity School)



Additionally, HCL’s Littauer Library collection of 113,408 books at the HD was merged with Widener Library near the end of FY 2007, which increased the book storage feet occupied by Widener collections by 10,163 BSF.


218,067 items were retrieved in FY 2007, or 3.2% of total holdings. Library users placed nearly 150,000 retrieval requests using the HOLLIS HD request interface, an increase of 13% over the previous year. All non-HOLLIS requests for services and supplies are submitted through interactive forms on the HD web site and account for the remainder of the retrievals (approximately 70,000 requests). There were 11,672 retrieval requests from Widener Library’s Interlibrary Loan department in FY 2007, consistent with FY 2006.

Eleven library depositors recorded more than 2,000 retrievals each, some substantially more than 2,000, and comprised 91% of all library retrievals. The HD courier vans made 6,524 customer deliveries to 5,984 locations over the course of the fiscal year, an average of 24 individual stops per day for circulation. Among these stops, the couriers delivered to clients 70,096 BSF (book storage feet: i.e., one records box is the equivalent of 2.21 BSF, and one book is approximately .1 BSF) of retrieved material, and brought back to the HD 41,497 BSF of material to be re-shelved. 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 3 courier vans on a daily basis to respond to the increasing circulation figures.

Physical Space       

At the end of FY 2007, stored media occupied 1,091,110 BSF, a net increase of approximately 48,512 BSF in FY 2007, or nearly 86% of existing capacity. In the film vault, 17,136 BSF were occupied of a total of 19,386 BSF, or 88.4% of capacity. New transfers to the HD in FY 2007 comprised 87,605 BSF; ongoing consolidation of shelves and withdrawal of records boxes and other materials result in the net increase of 48,512 BSF in assigned shelf space.  

At a transfer accession rate of 55,000 BSF per year, the HD will have storage capacity for no more than 3 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 5 more years of growth, at the minimum, 2010-2015. The capital project will also include additional film cold storage (40 F., 35% relative humidity). The completed construction project will add capacity of 300,000 BSF of archival space and 20,000 BSF of cold storage for film.  Also being added are an expanded processing area, additional restrooms and staff lockers, and a workroom for facilities and equipment management. Existing project space will be renovated to become garage and loading dock space for two delivery vehicles.

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 through October 2003. By the end of FY 2007, the archive represented 87% of the database, with supplemental volumes arriving daily. Meanwhile, a continuation of the agreement was successfully negotiated to include the journal titles added to the archive after the initial agreement was struck, more than 15 million additional pages. This agreement will continue the relationship with JSTOR through 2010, with additional annual agreements thereafter to include titles added to the continuously growing database.