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Administration and Programs

Harvard Depository

Harvard Depository


The Harvard Depository (HD), which completed its 24th year of service in FY 2010, is a high-density, offsite storage facility shared by the Harvard libraries and located approximately 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 2010, the Depository held in storage more than 8.1 million items comprising various media, including books, records boxes, microformats, films, etc. Of this number, books and archival material comprise over 7.5 million items (92%).

New Accessions

New accessions in FY 2010 were 412,664 discrete items. Books made up the majority of new accessions, with 380,693 individual volumes accessioned. Widener Library transferred 208,885 new items to HD in FY 2010, a decrease of 8%. Other Harvard library clients with substantial transfer rates were the Harvard Law School Library (50,927) and the Harvard-Yenching Library (40,205). MIT Libraries also transferred 24,664 items, largest of the non-Harvard HD clients. Records management clients transferred 7,876 boxes of records in FY 2010.


225,014 items were retrieved in FY 2010, or 2.75% of total holdings. Library users placed 150,452 retrieval requests using the HOLLIS HD request interface (two-thirds of all retrievals shipped), a decrease of 5.66% from 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 (more than 74,500 requests). There were 13,369 retrieval requests from Widener Library's Interlibrary Loan department in FY 2010, an increase of 2.4% from the previous year.

Seven library depositors recorded more than 2,000 retrievals each, some substantially more than 2,000, and comprised 93.5% of all library retrievals. Records management clients had 5,361 retrievals over the course of FY 2010.

HD courier vans made 6,222 deliveries over the course of the fiscal year, an average of 25 individual stops per day for circulation. Among these stops, the couriers delivered to clients 64,076 BSF (book storage feet: i.e., one records box is the equivalent of 2.21 BSF, and one book is approximately 0.1 BSF) of retrieved material, and brought back to HD 44,710 BSF of material to be re-shelved. 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. HD on average runs three courier vans on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to run more than four to respond to seasonal workloads and accomidate new accessions.

Physical Space       

At the end of FY 2010, stored media occupied 1,238,589 BSF, a net increase of 49,631 BSF in FY 2010, or more than 73% of the existing 1,689,428 BSF capacity. In the film vault, 24,054 BSF was occupied, a net increase of 5,944 BSF, or more than 42% of the existing 56,698 BSF capacity.

The most recent storage module was completed in July of 2009. At the current rate of new accessions, the new module adds sufficient capacity for five more years of growth, at the minimum, 2010 to 2015. The project included additional film cold storage (40 F., 35% relative humidity). The completed construction project has added 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 staff lockers, and a workroom for facilities and equipment management. Existing project space was renovated to become garage and loading dock space for two delivery vehicles.

Scan and Deliver

The Depository's Scan and Deliver service marked its one-year anniversary in April 2010. HD received 6,836 requests and filled 5,421 or 80% of them. This is above the University average. Because of the efficiencies in location and workflow, these articles were delivered in an average of less than two days, which is significantly lower than the overall service commitment of four days.

JSTOR Dark Archive Project

Beginning in FY 2005, a non-circulating archive was created at HD of paper material digitized in the JSTOR journal database through October 2003. The current agreement will continue the relationship with JSTOR through 2013, with additional annual agreements thereafter to include titles added to the continuously growing database. Overall, more than 30 million pages are archived at HD.