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The New Andover-Havard Theological Library

Anticipated since 1961, part of the University's master plan since the 1980s, and a "bricks-and-mortar" reality this fall, the Harvard Divinity School's new—and renewed—Andover–Harvard Theological Library is open for use. In structural terms, the new library comprises two additional stories atop the 1961 library wing and a new, enclosed "cloister walk" to unify the library with Andover Hall. The final phase of the renovation project, which continues through the fall, will include the adjacent five-story book stack wing.

The new addition, designed by Gail Woodhouse of Amsler Woodhouse MacLean Architects, Inc., adds 12,000 square feet of much-needed space to the Andover–Harvard Library. Shelving is increased by 40%. The reference area is 70% larger than in the past. And workspace for the library staff is increased by 25%.

Of equal importance to the new construction is the comprehensive renewal and upgrading of virtually the entire library. All previously existing library spaces have been (or are in the process of being) renovated. The library has been made fully accessible. New heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are dramatically improving the conditions under which collections are housed. Numerous public-access computer stations and e-mail kiosks are in place. Most study spaces are wired for data connections, and several public areas are equipped with hubs for wireless access to the Internet. A new technology instruction classroom, to be used for library-related and school-wide training programs, is now in use.

Today, the Andover–Harvard Theological Library contains nearly 458,000 volumes, receives more than 2,200 periodicals, and acquires about 7,000 new titles annually. Harvard Divinity School (HDS) students and faculty comprise the primary constituency of the Andover–Harvard Theological Library. Privileges are also available to HDS alumni/ae, faculty and students of the schools in the Boston Theological Institute, and to other scholars who can demonstrate a need for access to the collections.

The history of Harvard Divinity School and its library can be traced to Harvard's founding commitment to the education of a "learned ministry" for the New World. As early as 1812, the need to create boundaries between those studying for the ministry and those interested in more worldly pursuits led to the development of a duplicate set of books for students of divinity and, in 1826, to the location of Divinity Hall outside of the environs of Harvard Yard. Farlow Hall, which serves today as one of the FAS botany libraries, was built in 1887 as the Divinity School's first dedicated library building. A few decades later, when the Andover Theological Seminary moved to Cambridge, Harvard and Andover combined their library collections in Andover Hall in 1911. The new facility included a reference and reading room, workspace for library staff, and a five-story, fireproof stack for about 200,000 volumes.

According to Malcolm Hamilton, interim librarian for the Harvard Divinity School: "The Andover- Harvard Theological Library finally has a home worthy of the significance of its important collections.

"This has been a very exciting project for me. I am working with a superior team of HDS administrators, the best of Harvard Planning and Real Estate's project managers, an architect whose vision, style, and collaborative habits are perfect for this library and this school, and a general contractor who understands our needs.

"The Divinity School's administration has been extremely supportive in all aspects of the project and the needs of ongoing library programs. One could not ask for a more competent and devoted library staff. The faculty are intimately engaged in the library in ways that both challenge and support what we are trying to do here. The dean is in a class by himself, one of the finest bosses I've ever had."

Hamilton notes that, in the spring, an open house will be held at the Andover–Harvard Theological Library specifically for members of Harvard's library community.

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Last modified on Thursday, April 18, 2002.