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Administration and Programs

Harvard Depository

Harvard Depository


The Harvard Depository (HD), which completed its 23rd year of service in FY 2009, 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 2009, the Depository held in storage nearly 7.8 million items comprising various media, including books, records boxes, microformats, films, etc. Of this number, books and archival material comprise approximately 7.3 million items. 

New Accessions

New accessions in FY 2009 were 478,543 discrete items. Books made up the majority of new accessions, with 440,000 individual volumes accessioned. Widener Library transferred 226,784 new items to the HD in FY 2009. Other Harvard library clients with substantial transfer rates were the Fine Arts Library (37,314), the Harvard Law School Library (29,266), the Harvard–Yenching Library (58,945), and Government Documents (17,072). MIT Libraries also transferred 50,001 books, the largest by far of the non-Harvard HD clients. Records management clients transferred 6,223 boxes of records in FY 2009. 


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.  All requested retrievals were delivered on the next business day or within 24 hours of the request.

220,301 items were retrieved in FY 2009, or 2.83% of total holdings. Library users placed 159,397 retrieval requests using the HOLLIS–HD request interface, an increase of 5.1% 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, nearly 61,000 requests. There were 13,056 retrieval requests from Widener Library's Interlibrary Loan department in FY 2009, an increase of 14% from FY 2008. 

Ten library depositors recorded more than 2,000 retrievals each, some substantially more than 2,000, and comprised 93.5% of all library retrievals. As always, Widener Library recorded the highest number of retrievals at 147,428.  Records management clients had 5,538 retrievals over the course of FY 2009, consistent with FY 2008.

Courier Activity

The HD courier vans made 6,479 customer deliveries over the course of the fiscal year, an average of 26 individual stops per day for circulation. Among these stops, the couriers delivered to clients 63,725 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 46,348 BSF of material to be reshelved. The couriers also picked up 35,834 BSF of material being transferred to the HD. The total volume of material carried by the HD courier vans totaled 145,907 BSF, an increase of 8% from FY 2008. The HD now runs three courier vans on a daily basis to respond to the increasing circulation figures.

Physical Space       

At the end of FY 2009, stored media occupied 1,188,958 BSF, a net increase of 54,069 BSF in FY 2009, or more than 95% of existing capacity. In the film vault, 18,110 BSF were occupied of a total of 19,386 BSF, or 93.4% of capacity. New transfers to the HD in FY 2009 comprised 82,670 BSF; ongoing consolidation of shelves and withdrawal of records boxes and other materials resulted in the net increase of 54,069 BSF in assigned shelf space. 

At the end of FY 2009, available archival storage space for books and archival material amounted to less than 60,000 BSF—or enough available shelving for less than one year. The next storage module, under construction as of April of 2008, is planned to be completed by mid-July of 2009 (editor's note: actual completion was in October). The new module has sufficient capacity for five more years of growth, at the minimum, 2010–2015. The capital project also includes additional film cold storage (40 F., 35% relative humidity). The completed construction project adds capacity of 300,000 BSF of archival space and 37,000 BSF of cold storage for film.  Also added are an expanded processing area, additional restrooms, and a workroom for facilities and equipment management. An existing workroom has been renovated to become garage and loading dock space for two delivery vehicles.

Electronic Document Delivery

On April 22, 2009, the Harvard Libraries began a library-wide electronic delivery initiative, dubbed “Scan and Deliver.” At the HD, just one half-time staff member was assigned to the project, initially. The HD filled 634 requests in the first three months, an average of 10 requests filled each day. Request volume continued to increase steadily through the summer. At the beginning of the fall semester, the request level was high enough to warrant adding a second full-time staff member to handle the volume, allowing the original staff member to return to supervisory responsibility for the service. 

Harvard–Google Project at the HD

The Harvard–Google Project took full 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 completed its sweep of the HD shelves in early April of FY 2009. 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 fragile book condition.
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 2009, the archive represented 90.5% of the database covered by the first agreement, 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. JSTOR is composing a new continuation agreement for the period of FY 2011–2013, to take effect July 1, 2010. At the end of FY 2009, the titles associated with the continuation agreement were 69.2% complete. Overall, more than 22 million pages are archived at the HD.