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The Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Loeb Library

Report of Hugh Wilburn, Librarian


Report of Hugh Wilburn, Librarian and Assistant Dean for Information Services—Harvard Graduate School of Design


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 used by students and faculty across the University, by members of the design profession, and by visiting scholars from around the world.

The Loeb Design Library supports the work of the School and strengthens the relationship of the Library to other departments. Staff members serve on the Design School’s Emergency Management Team, the Staff and Community Committee, the GSD Web Committee, and the Advanced Study Programs Advisory Group. In addition, librarians in the Design Library work collaboratively with colleagues across the University, serving on over 15 committees under the oversight of the University Library Council. These relationships are essential as staff members strive to perform their daily work, to implement new policies and procedures, and to plan future objectives. More than ever, collaboration and cooperative planning are the guiding forces in the work to provide resources of depth and variety for our students and faculty members.

Collection Development

Collection development activities for the year included work to streamline the identification of heavily circulated titles in order to expedite ordering of additional copies. Approval plans for acquiring new titles continue to be reviewed and adjusted, and full implementation of a new approval plan for Spanish-language titles was completed. As part of a space-planning effort, a pilot project to identify low-use titles in the social sciences was developed, testing review and selection criteria for implementation in an evolving comprehensive collection development program.

In digital acquisitions, activities included the purchase of University-wide access to the BuildingGreen Suite, a resource of great interest to the GSD community. The library also purchased GoogleEarth Pro and PCensus and made them available on dedicated library workstations.

A new cost-share model for digital acquisitions was developed by a committee of the University Library Council. The model distributes costs more clearly along core subject-area affiliations, with individual libraries or select groups of libraries covering the costs of resources that are core to their subject. Overhead costs for this joint acquisitions effort have been significantly reduced.


Students come to the graduate programs offered by the Design School with a variety of experiences in using libraries. Accordingly, the reference librarians devote significant time to providing instruction to individuals and groups and helping them to exploit the depth of the resources made available by the library. A slight reduction in the annual tally of individual requests for assistance may reflect the increase in the number of bibliographic instruction sessions offered to groups of students, and the attendance of over 1,000 individuals in the variety of group sessions offered during the year.

A new initiative this year was an instructional session on “green design” resources, coordinated with the GSD Student Forum, which featured collections in Loeb Library and its Materials Collection. Other instructional opportunities ranged from one-on-one consultations at the reference desk to a classroom presentation to 300 undergraduates in Professor Alex Krieger’s “American Cities” core course, utilizing the case-study format to demonstrate the range of print and electronic resources available for researching their final paper assignment.

Librarians in Loeb Design Library worked with colleagues across the Design School to increase student awareness of academic writing standards and best practices. Future projects in this area will include summer online tutorials, targeted workshops offered during the fall semester, and the creation of an academic writing “toolbox,” which compiles GSD guidelines, academic writing tips, and style guides in one accessible site.


The volume of books and periodicals that circulated (82,656) was, for the second year, slightly less than the spike of previous years. Similarly, the total number of books shelved dropped by 2%, continuing a trend noticed since 2004. Students continued to rely on the online HOLLIS catalog to renew their books, with 99% of our 45,151 renewals 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. Use of this service has grown by 40% since 2004.

In response to a need identified last year through work with the GSD Student Forum, the library continued to prioritize staff attention to quick and accurate shelving of books, resulting in greater availability of the collections. Students found books in the library more easily because the books and periodical volumes are shelved more quickly.

Technical Services

Technical Services staff initiated a project to purchase second copies of monograph titles in high demand. Based on a report of usage statistics, an additional 100 copies of high-use monographs were added to the collection. The department continues to maintain a backlog-free level of ordering, receiving, and cataloging. A total of 4,410 volumes were added to the library collection, representing a 17% increase over the prior year.

Project planning continued for the library’s participation in the Harvard–Google project, as part of the larger Harvard project to scan titles in the public domain.


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 as well as the circulating collections. During the past year the conservator performed 375 minor and 376 major treatments.

This year the library contributed to a significant GSD exhibition: “Beyond the Harvard Box: The Early Works of Edward L. Barnes, Ulrich Franzen, John Johansen, Victor Lundy, I. M. Pei, and Paul Rudolph.” Many of the objects from the collections required extensive conservation treatments. Six drawings by Herbert Langford Warren, founder of Harvard’s architecture program, were repaired and prepared for exhibition in the reading room of the library’s Special Collections department.

The Conservation department, in collaboration with the Library Information Systems department, designed and launched a new conservation treatment records database. Information from an existing database was converted, old treatment slides were scanned into digital images, and links were created to record a more comprehensive visual documentation of treatment stages.

Instructional Technology and Library Information Systems

The Loeb Design Library is fortunate to include a department that combines support for library information systems with support for evolving methods of instructional technology and outreach to faculty members. 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 growth in the support needed by faculty members was met by the addition of a new staff assistant position within the department to assist faculty members and their teaching assistants as they exploit the tools offered by the iCommons infrastructure.

Workflows and policies of the Imaging Lab, created last year, were refined by departmental staff members in cooperation with the Visual Resources, Special Collections, and Conservation departments. The significant increase in digital acquisitions and creation for the Visual Resources collections would not have been possible without this in-house facility.

Visual Resources

The staff of the Visual Resources department focused on collection development, cataloging, acquiring digital images, and outreach to GSD faculty and students. The department continued working closely with the Library Information Systems department and the Imaging Lab to increase digital image production and acquisition. Library staff worked on three different “content creation” grants, funded by the Office of the Provost, to digitize, catalog, and make available images used in courses on landscape technology, innovative construction in modern Japan, and modernity and urban design in Central Europe during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Further emphasis was placed this year on securing additional image licenses with vendors, working with electronic licensing specialists in the Harvard University Library’s Office for Information Systems. Presentations were made to individuals, classes, and academic departments as part of an expanded outreach effort.

The department chair is a member of the OLIVIA Working Group, which oversees the database that records the cataloging of image collections at Harvard. 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).

Over 12,000 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 84,369 records currently in VIA (representing about one third of our total collection), 28,194 are available as digital images for easy identification and use by Harvard students and faculty members.

Special Collections

In the Rare Book Room, more than 600 requests for book and periodical titles were received during the past year. More than 250 readers made significant use of the resources of the Le Corbusier Research Collection.

Loeb Design Library special collections include the papers of designers and design firms that are used by faculty members and students from the GSD and the broader Harvard community. Researchers visiting Harvard from a variety of institutions made use of materials in the Special Collections department. Among the most heavily used collections are the Josep Lluis Sert collection, the CIAM collection, and the Alison and Peter Smithson Archive. Additional frequently consulted collections include the Edward Larrabee Barnes collection, the archives of Hugh Stubbins and Dan Kiley, the Roberto Burle Marx collection, the William L. Phillips Collection, the John Charles Olmsted collection, and the Martin Wagner collection.

In October 2006, Beyond the Harvard Box, a Gund Gallery exhibition, opened. Featured were GSD graduates of the 1940s and 1950s, including Edward L. Barnes and Ulrich Franzen. Special Collections staff (and conservator Irina Gorstein) worked closely with curator Michael Meredith, supplying material for the portions of the exhibition highlighting the architects’ work as well as selecting material and designing the exhibition’s “wall” focused on GSD history during the period.

Related material was included in an ancillary exhibition in the Special Collections Department. Subsequent department exhibitions included Travelers and Tourists (featuring manuscripts, printed texts, and photographs recording the impressions of designers as travelers and which also included various genres of tour guides and other travel literature) and an exhibition honoring Hugh Stubbins MArch 1935, which coincided with a memorial service held at the School. The department was also the site of an exhibition of material related to H. Langford Warren and his partner F. Patterson Smith; included were a sequence of plans and renderings by Warren for a proposed Harvard University Press building and other University projects.

In addition to the department’s contributions to Beyond the Harvard Box, Rare Book Room titles were included in the GSD exhibition Constructing the Swiss Landscape, and photographs from the Sert Collection appeared in the exhibition Project Zagreb.

Material from the Special Collections and from the Sert Collection in particular was included in several notable exhibitions in this past year. Barcelona and Modernity opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in March 2007, and an exhibition, Revistas y Guerra, 1936–1939, was inaugurated at the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid. Numerous items from the Sert Collection were included in the exhibition Miró/Sert at the Fundació Miró on Mallorca, which documented their lifelong personal and professional relationship. Drawings and correspondence from the Eleanor Raymond Collection were selected for an exhibition at the Centre Canadien d’Architecture, focused on early experiments in solar heating/green architecture.


Gifts received this year include material from GSD alumni/ae, their descendants, and others with connections to the GSD and its predecessor programs. Among these gifts were

  • an array of books, drawings, manuscript material, and memorabilia by or related to Herbert Langford Warren, the first chair of the Department of Architecture, which are the gift of Mrs. Frank H. Stoutamire;
  • a selection of renderings and drawings by F. Patterson Smith, principal of the Boston firm of Warren and Smith, which are the gifts of Richard T. Joslin MArch ’54;
  • examples of student work, donated by James Lamantia BArch ’47;
  • books, period photographs, and student work by Channing W. Porter BS Arch 1907, the gift of his granddaughter, Constance Graham;
  • GSD-related materials, books, and research slides from the collection of Emeritus Professor Jerzy Soltan, which are the gifts of his daughter, Joanna Soltan;
  • a selection of teaching materials, student work, and related files from a succession of GSD studios and classes, which are the gifts of Carl Steinitz; and
  • a set of reduced bound copies of student work, which are the gifts of Mack Scogin.

The library also received significant enrichments to existing collections: Eugenia Devine (formerly of the Barnes office) provided the file of submission materials which ensured the award of the AIA Gold Medal to Edward L. Barnes in January of this year; photographs and a related CD of images of the Dan Kiley-designed Cole House were received from Landscape Institute student Faith Michaels; GSD staff member Deborah Johansen supplied prints of plans of the house itself. A mass of material from the estate of the late Huson Jackson (BArch 1938; MArch 1939) related to the Sert Jackson practice was the gift of Polly Jackson (1943 DES). James Herold BArch 1956 also contributed additional material to the Sert Collection. A less conventional acquisition was a pair of sofas (designed by J. L. Sert for use in Holyoke Center); the sofas were received through the good offices of Emmy Norris, curator of University cultural property.

The department has acquired the photo archive of the noted architectural photographer Nick Wheeler. This archive documents designs by E. L. Barnes, Ulrich Franzen, and Hugh Stubbins, and it adds additional value to departmental holdings. GSD alumna and Council member Doris Cole MArch ’63 was instrumental in the acquisition of this collection.

Deborah Jackson Weiss and her siblings presented the department with the original model, plans, correspondence, and job files related to “The Jackson House,” the first built residence (1941) designed by Eliot Noyes MArch 1938.

Ellen Vaughn Howe was the donor of a collection of material related to the first commercial outlet for Alvar Aalto furnishings in Boston, established by her sister, Cambridge School graduate Louisa Vaughn Conrad. (Later in the year the managing director of Artek visited the department, was intrigued by the collection’s contents, and assured us that many of the Aalto designs featured in the Boston shop of 1940 were still in production.)