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Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Loeb Design Library

Loeb Design Library


Frances Loeb Library

Harvard Graduate School of Design

Report of Mary Daniels



The Frances Loeb Library supports the educational and research programs of Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD), which offers professional, post-professional, and advanced academic degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design. The GSD community includes more than 600 students; its faculty, supplemented by a substantial population of visiting lecturers, design critics and scholars, numbers more than 150; it is complemented by a staff of 116. The Library is used by students and faculty from the Harvard community, from other Boston-area design programs (most notably MIT), design professionals, and an international array of visiting students and scholars.

Challenge and Response

The Frances Loeb Library's challenge is to support, with both traditional research materials and innovative library-based technologies, an educational program posited on imagination, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the complexities of contemporary global issues as revealed in the built and the natural environment.

The Library has experienced a number of significant staffing changes within the past year, including the retirement of two professional librarians (the heads of the Public Services and the Technical Services departments) and the loss of two support staff positions. Loeb Library staff, at every level, have compensated for these losses with flexibility and energy. Collections Librarian Sarah Dickinson also assumed the responsibilities of heading the Public Services department. Library Director Hugh Wilburn resigned as of March 1, 2010; Mary Daniels has subsequently served as acting director. In August 2010, Ann Baird Whiteside became the director of the Frances Loeb Library.

Collection Development

A review of current journal subscriptions was undertaken to reduce peripheral and duplicate holdings and to reflect current programmatic needs. An extensive review and weeding of older duplicative journal, reference, and index titles (with compensatory migration to electronic versions when available or appropriate) resulted in more effective use of onsite shelving and delayed the need for offsite storage. The substantial collection of soil surveys was relocated to the Cabot Science Library.

A review of lost/missing reports and circulation statistics contributed to a targeted program of replacement/added copy purchases.


Collections Conservator Irina Gorstein undertook the repair (700 “minor” and 319 “major” treatments) of books from the Library's general collections and oversaw the processing of some 1,351 volumes for commercial binding.

The Conservator's expertise was dramatically demonstrated in GSD exhibitions, which in 2009-2010, included rare books, three-dimensional objects, vintage photographs, and architectural drawings that required a broad range of treatments and installation techniques. Goldstein also prepared a public presentation, "Reviving Mid-20th Century Architectural Drawings" as a complement to her work on the Kenzo Tange drawings.

Library Information Services

The Library Information Services (LIS) department, directed by Kevin Lau, is responsible for the installation, support, and maintenance of all IT resources within the Library. LIS is supplemented by an ambitious program of digitization projects that is focused on library materials from the Visual Resources, Special Collections, and Materials Collection departments, and that also documents Conservation activity.

In FY 2010, LIS digitized 10,881 unique images and created a total of 31,045 total files were created, representing varying resolutions, formats and perspectives, to assure optimal quality by Imagining Coordinator/Photographer Adam Kellie). The department also provided support, training, consultation, and collaboration with GSD faculty and students-most notably in the creation and maintenance of GSD course iSites. 246 iSites were created in FY 2010.

LIS recruited and trained Harvard students (supported by the PITF Program) to work with GSD faculty to develop and enhance digital course materials and other pedagogical tools in areas ranging from architectural history to sustainable design.

Public Services

The department maintained core services (reference, circulation and ILL, with reduced staff through a combination of redistributed tasks, cross-training of staff from other departments, and the successful deployment of student supervisors to cover key weekend and evening hours, which were modestly reduced.

The GSD joined with other Harvard libraries in implementing the ”Scan and Deliver” service for the Harvard community.

The Reference staff offered an array of instructional sessions on library research skills, which were organized around program and course requirements, and continued a program of outreach targeted to international students (who constitute 30% of our student population), with a focus on academic writing resources.

Special Collections

The department maintained its active role as a public services unit, providing Rare Book Room, Le Corbusier Research Collection, and Special Collections materials to more than 900 researchers representing a local and international clientele. Librarian Mary Daniels and Archivist Inés Zalduendo prepared numerous focused presentations of departmental materials to GSD student groups and classes, as well as to groups from the University community and beyond. Special collection materials were also showcased in exhibitions at the Morgan Library, the Heckscher Museum, and the Canadian Center for Architecture.

Distinctive exhibitions and special events were a collective hallmark for FY 2010. Among the exhibitions were "Distillations: Gropius-Japan-1954," "The THING Tank" (derived from a GSD course) and "Erratics: Perception, Observation, and Practice."

The department sponsored additional presentations and discussions by Le Corbusier biographer Nicholas Fox Weber, architectural critic and editor Gavin Keeney, and Peter McMahon, director of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust.

Technical Services

Technical Services has been without a department head during the past fiscal year. Despite the absence of a professional librarian and the loss of a cataloging position in 2009, the three-person staff (Emily Scudder, Maria Tina DaRosa, Page Nelson), with the assistance of staff assistant Linda Kitch, has maintained the processing of monographs, serials, and specialized materials throughout the year.

The Technical Services staff also contributed to the work of the Library's Public Service department by providing circulation and reference assistance. In addition to cyclical activities (binding, etc.), Technical Services staff also contributed to collection assessment projects focused, notably on the serials and reference collections.

In FY 2010, the Library acquired 3,174 monographs as purchases, added volumes, or gifts; 2,327 monographs were cataloged for the collection; 518 volumes were added; 27 new serial titles were ordered; 7 new serial titles were cataloged; and 2,896 individual issues were checked in.

Visual Resources Department

The Visual Resources staff (Librarian Alix Reiskind and Cataloger Johanna Kasubowski) focused on new outreach activities and on maintaining a high level of acquisition and cataloging for digital images; 32,546 digital images were acquired in FY 2010; 10,413 images were catalogued; 196 DVDs were acquired; and 47 CD/DVD-ROMS were added to the collection.

Visual Resources also initiated an active project to solicit digital images of the current work, studio activities, and travel of GSD faculty and students; a cataloging project focused on the collection of historical maps; and a selective review of vintage audio and visual tapes for reformatting.

276 patrons utilized resources (972 items) and equipment onsite, while an additional 317 items circulated. More than 300 reference enquiries were received. The patron base was enhanced by dozens of visitors who attended an open house, film screenings, and exhibitions, all of which offered additional public exposure to historical and contemporary holdings in a variety of genres.


GSD librarians serve on 18 of the coordinating and standing committees and working and affinity groups established by the University Library Council. These include the Manuscripts and Archives Standing Committee, the Visual Materials Standing Committee, the Academic Technology Managers Group, the Academic Librarians Learning Network, and the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Standing Committee, the Manuscript and Archives Working Group, the VIA and OLIVIA Working Groups.

 The Collections Librarian, as a member of the ERSWG Committee has worked actively with colleagues to assess electronic resources of all varieties to assure utility and economy; she has also worked with the Fine Arts Library and other university collections to coordinate the acquisition of new book and journal purchases. The Special Collections Librarian and the Archivist have been involved in the review of archival processing practices and standards and in the pilot implementation of The Archivists Toolkit. The Weissman Preservation Center staff has shared its expertise with our Conservator. The GSD's long-term relationship with MIT (including student cross-registration and participation in the Aga Khan Program) offers a solid base for expanded relationships. Active membership in professional organizations—the Art Libraries Society of North America and The Society of Architectural Historians among them—has provided another forum for Loeb Library staff to work actively with colleagues, nationally and internationally.