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Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Andover-Harvard Theological Library—Harvard Divinity School

Andover-Harvard Theological Library


Report of Laura C. Wood, Librarian

Drawing on its historical strength in Christian studies and its significant resources in global religious studies, Harvard Divinity School (HDS) educates scholars, teachers, ministers, and other professionals for leadership and service, both nationally and internationally. To help in building a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides, we strive to be a primary resource in religious and theological studies for the academy, for religious communities, and in the public sphere. In support of that mission, the Andover-Harvard Theological Library strives to serve a wide and expanding array of scholarly inquiries from Harvard students and faculty, while also providing services to our alumni/ae, local clergy, and the worldwide community of scholars of religious studies.


After last year's funding shortage for acquisitions, this year's acquisitions funding recovered substantially, due largely to the improved exchange rate for the US dollar and the increased endowment payout. The funding enabled the purchase of several important electronic resources, including the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford Biblical Studies Online, and the first section of the ATLA Historical Monographs Collection: 13th Century to 1893, containing over 14,000 monographs on religion and theology

Nevertheless, the projected budget reductions for the next few years prompted a continuation and intensification of efforts to review and cancel serial subscriptions, especially for titles duplicated at other Harvard libraries and/or available online. In addition to cancelling 104 subscriptions, most serial titles purchased on microfilm were cancelled.


In December 2008, a major goal was realized with the load into HOLLIS of 20,000 brief records for preservation microfilm holdings of “Unitarian Universalist and Liberal Religious Pamphlets and Ephemera.” The records were created in 1982-83 (when the material was preserved), but had never been publicly accessible as a finding tool for this material. Most of this rare original material is monographic, but there were also serial records for 660 Unitarian Universalist church bulletins. We have started to upgrade each record to meet bibliographic standards and provide authority control. Continuing into next year, we will focus dedicated staff time to this important collection.

The monograph-cataloging department has continued to increase cataloging output. The number of titles cataloged increased 36% over FY 2008 and 55% over FY 2007. Even when adjusted to exclude the titles cataloged as part of the Unitarian database project, cataloging output has still increased 8% over FY 2008 and 23% over FY 2007. In June, Ella Johnson retired after 38 years of service. The cataloging department has lost an important source of institutional knowledge as well as an esteemed colleague.

Manuscripts and Archives

After two years of planning, the Unitarian Service Committee digitization project commenced this fall. By year's end, the first 10,000 images had been scanned (out of an expected 250,000). This project is in partnership with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and should finish in FY 2010. The materials will be deposited in DRS with access provided through the finding aids in OASIS and images in VIA.

We added 60 linear feet of new material to the collections. This included 31 feet of personal papers (faculty members, ministers, etc.) and 29 feet of institutional records (church records, Unitarian Universalist Association records, etc.) The department assisted 220 individuals in using the collections.

Research and Access Services

The research services department focused on new initiatives, working closely with the HDS faculty's library advisory committee to discuss the research needs of students and faculty. These conversations culminated in a presentation to the faculty, followed by individual consultations to improve faculty awareness of electronic resources.

Steven Beardsley began serving part-time at the reference desk, permitting other staff to focus on more in-depth research guidance and provide targeted services to 35 classes and events. In addition, the library provided customized resource referrals for 17 course web sites, directing students to quality online and in-print library resources relevant to the course focus.

Use of the library increased substantially this year, as measured by a 10% increase in entrance counts and a 30% increase in circulation activity. The use of reserves also increased. The number of courses using reserves stayed stable, but the average number of reserve items per course increased by 15%. Loans of reserve material increased 27%. In the spring, the library began participating in the new HUL “Scan and Deliver” service to deliver scanned articles and chapters directly to users' desktops.