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Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Library and Knowledge Services

Library and Knowledge Services


Harvard Kennedy School

Report of Heather McMullen, Director



The Harvard Kennedy School's Library and Knowledge Services supports the information and research needs of the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) in its mission "to train enlightened public leaders and generate the ideas that provide solutions to our most challenging public problems." Our key constituents are HKS faculty, students, fellows, and staff, as well as other Harvard affiliates who are interested in public policy, government, public finance, international development, human rights, environmental economics, nonprofit sector and management, terrorism, disaster response and management, criminal justice, etc.

Challenge and Response

Changing Role for the HKS Library

HKS Library renamed itself Library and Knowledge Services, representing a significant change from our traditional role and focus. Our vision is to create a library and knowledge services center for the 21st century that combines traditional, print-based library resources with more digital-based information services that support not only students, staff, and faculty but also the information and knowledge needs of alumni, public-service leaders, and practitioners. This broader vision also extends the traditional library role from one that focuses on making available externally created knowledge to a role that also collects, organizes, and disseminates HKS-created scholarship for both internal and external users. The challenge will be to fulfill this new mission while maintaining the important core services that the library continues to provide. Our new goals are

  • to increase focus on electronic content, due to the proliferation of current materials in electronic format in areas of interest to HKS;
  • to place emphasis on collection, organization, and dissemination of internally generated intellectual capital—including active participation in the University-led efforts to develop an electronic repository for scholarly publications (DASH) and to support open access;
  • to expand library instruction to specific courses to better integrate information literacy skills into the learning experience for students; and
  • to collect and provide more in-depth treatment of key HKS areas of scholarship (collection funding permitting).

Library Renovation

In 2009–2010, the HKS Library undertook a major renovation to update the facilities and reconfigure the space to accommodate the changing needs of today's students. The Library constructed new group study spaces, increased seating, added more power outlets for laptop use, and purchased faster copiers/printers. One of the biggest challenges was to move the entire collection off-site and then prepare for its return. Much care was expended to safeguard the collection and maintain its integrity. Another challenge was to establish a satellite location for library services during the renovation project. However, due to the fast-track nature of the project, the majority of the work was completed while the students were on break.

Reorganization After Reduction in Force

FY 2010 was a challenging year in light of the budget reductions across the Kennedy School and throughout Harvard. Library and Knowledge Services decreased its staff size while simultaneously reorganizing to better align our services with the School's information and research needs. A major focus was on rethinking technical services. Following the renovation, both the Provost's Task Force on Libraries and the subsequent Library Implementation Working Group issued reports with principles and goals that were consistent with the direction that HKS Library and Knowledge Services has taken with its vision, space, services and collections.

Collection and Service Highlights

Collection Development

The HKS Library undertook a concentrated one-time weeding project to make room for new collections. Our plan moving forward is to provide a more in-depth treatment of key HKS areas of scholarship that are not sufficiently covered at other Harvard libraries, and to become ongoing stewards of these resources. Areas of focus include energy policy, the management of nuclear energy and materials, climate policy, environmental economics, crisis/disaster management and policy, terrorism and counterterrorism, human rights initiatives, nonprofit sector management, US state and local finance, and US and comparative public welfare policy.

Public Services

The HKS Library increased its outreach efforts this year by offering a dozen new workshops that proved very popular with incoming and mid-career students. In addition, we broadened our audience of HKS Center and programs by conducting research sessions with the Belfer Center, the Shorenstein Center, the Asia Program, the Lee Kuan Yew fellow, and the Carr Center fellows.

Technical Services

This year saw a tremendous change in how the Library handled our technical services operation. Our procedures were streamlined to meet our goal of having newly published items on the shelf within four days of publication. One of the most critical requirements of the HKS Library is to provide access to a very current collection in an exceedingly timely manner. Because much of the curriculum focuses on developing knowledge, skills, and abilities required by administrators and public-policy makers, collection emphasis has been, and remains, primarily on current materials. The HKS faculty comprises renowned scholars and accomplished practitioners who are actively engaged in world events. Many of our scholars and practitioners frequently testify before Congress and give media interviews and statements on matters of great urgency. The faculty relies on the HKS Library to provide them with research materials and support, efficiently and quickly.

In addition, the Library was a key player in the development of a new taxonomy at the School. This initiative is an important building block for the larger vision of fully developing knowledge services at HKS.


The HKS Library expanded it online instruction presence with new screencasts for bibliographic tools such as Zotero. HKS itself is embarking on an ambitious plan to roll out SharePoint over the next few years, and the Library is creating its own intranet site as a first step with tagged content using the new taxonomy.


This year, the HKS Library expanded its efforts to develop relationships with other HKS units as well as Harvard-wide partnerships. While continuing to work collaboratively with the Kennedy School Student Government, we also sought to work more closely with the Course Materials Office, Degree Programs, SLATE (Strengthening Learning and Teaching Excellence), Research Administration Office, Alumni Affairs and Resource Development, Communications and Public Affairs, and the Academic Dean's Office.

The Harvard professional school libraries enjoyed more interaction over the course of the year. For example, the Kennedy School, Business School, Law School, and Medical School all collaborated on the development of a prototype knowledge portal for electronic medical records. Furthermore, these libraries, along with Gutman Library, developed the Instruction Collaborative for joint instruction opportunities.

The HKS Library began collaborating with the Research Administration Office to support the new Open Access mandate at HKS, and participates in the Harvard-wide Open Access meetings hosted by the Office for Scholarly Communication. In addition, the Library continued its membership on the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Standing Committee and the E-Resources Services Working Group, and participated in cost-sharing decisions for online resources of mutual interest.


The HKS Library is embarking on an exciting path of adding knowledge services and scholarly communication to its vision while enhancing its existing core library services. The year marked several milestones to this end, including a new library space, reorganized workflows, and improved infrastructure to support our service objectives.