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Harvard College Library‚€”Report of Nancy M. Cline

Research and Instruction

Research and Instruction


Instruction and outreach are a significant part of the Library’s work. With the increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary initiatives and the implementation in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) of a plan for General Education, new opportunities for collaboration with students and faculty are emerging. Over the past year, the Library has worked with the Standing Committee on Writing and Speaking and the Harvard Writing Project to develop a teaching module for Expository Writing courses to instruct students in effective use of library resources. In collaboration with Expos preceptors, over 60 sections were taught in a pilot that shows promise for becoming an integral part of the Expos experience.

Through the Library Liaison Program, librarians are associated with specific FAS departments or programs. Liaisons establish ongoing relationships within departments and collaborate with faculty and instructors on creating and teaching library-related classes. They meet with students and faculty, provide one-on-one consultations, develop course research guides, assist with content for course web sites, and provide general reference services to the department’s faculty and students. The Library Liaison Program helps instructors to identify and locate e-resources and to link to them from course web pages, giving students direct access to online readings for courses. This effort continues to be a factor in reducing the size and cost of printed course packs.

Currently, there are over 200 online research guides, accessible via the HCL web site, which provide detailed advice on how to use the libraries to conduct research in given subject areas. In addition, librarians collaborating with faculty have created major research sites on classics and medieval studies, film studies, Germanic studies, Renaissance studies, and Romance languages and literatures, with sites on photographs and poetry debuting soon.

Librarians and faculty continue to discover ways to provide a richer undergraduate experience by using specific course assignments and lectures to introduce students to the libraries’ vast resources. The rare and distinguished collections that attract faculty and international scholars to Harvard’s libraries are increasingly used by both undergraduate and graduate students. In many cases, these collections are discovered through online content, the result of digitizing items from the Library’s collections. There is also an increase in the number of faculty whose courses require students to use original items such as 17th-century documents, medieval manuscripts, poetry recordings, vintage films, or historical photographs.

Some recent faculty/library collaborations have also produced exhibitions, which likewise foster the use of the collections. Of particular note were those at Houghton Library, including:

  • Benjamin Franklin: A “How To” Guide,
  • Images of Congo: The Art and Ethnography of Anne Eisner Putnam, 1946–1957,
  • Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200,
  • William Empson: A Centennial Exhibition,
  • Leaves From Paradise: The Cult of John the Evangelist ta the Dominican Nunnery of Paradies bei Soest, and
  • Proclamations of Immortality: Rumi’s Works in Modern Editions

Loeb Music Library staff worked closely with the faculty of the Department of Music on the Leonard Bernstein celebration and exhibition. Each of these collaborations brought undergraduate students into the library where they had hands-on experience with primary source materials.

Research Services at Lamont opened in September 2007, bringing together two formerly separate reference programs from Lamont Library and the Social Sciences Program (SSP). The renovated area, on Lamont’s B level, features a new service desk, contemporary study tables, reference materials, computers, a copy/scan center, consultation and instructional rooms, and group study tables in the adjacent stack alcoves. This move also brought into closer proximity several units of SSP: Environmental Information Services, Government Information Services, Microfilm Services, Numeric Data Services, and the Harvard Map Collection. Lamont’s extended hours (24/5) combined with the easy accessibility and ambiance of the Lamont Library Cafe, have contributed to increased use of this library.