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HGSE Completes $9.5 Million Renovation of the Monroe C. Gutman Library

The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has completed a $9.5 million renovation of the Monroe C. Gutman Library on Appian Way at Brattle Street. The Stubbins Associates of Cambridge executed the renovation of HGSE's landmark building (by Benjamin Thompson and Associates, 1972). Most prominent in the renovation are a new Learning Technologies Center and a state-of-the-art Special Collections facility that includes a reading room, a processing area, and stacks.

The creation of HGSE's technology center is the culmination of an ambitious technology enhancement program for classrooms and meeting spaces throughout the school. The new center in Gutman comprises two computer classrooms, a public cluster of computers for student use, an experimental technology lab, and a web development facility—as well as audio and video editing suites, a faculty resource center, viewing rooms, non-print collections storage, and conference rooms. Additionally, HGSE media services, formerly housed in Gutman's basement level, were relocated to the new technology center.

While technological concerns drove many aspects of the renovation, the development of the Learning Technologies Center displaced Gutman's Special Collections, which had formerly occupied a modest space on the third floor. With significant space freed by the relocation of media services, HGSE seized the opportunity to create a new Special Collections facility on the basement level. The new facility features compact shelving for more than 60,000 volumes and 1,500 linear feet of manuscripts—with room for expansion. The new stacks are adjacent to a secure and pleasant reading room and to a processing room for minor repairs and collection organization activities.

"We wanted to develop a space that did justice to the Special Collections in every way," noted Gladys Dratch, collection development librarian. Among the Special Collections housed in the new space are:

  • one of the nation's most significant collection of historical textbooks;
  • a nation-wide collection of the annual reports of state and municipal boards of education dating from the 1820s;
  • a companion collection of catalogs and publications of American private schools from the early 1800s to the 1940s; and
  • the Jeanne S. Chall Collection on the Teaching of Reading.

Significant archival holdings include the records of the organizations Action for Children's Television (founded by Peggy Charren) and Language Research, Inc. (founded by I.A. Richards and Christine Gibson), as well as papers of Harold Howe II, Roy E. Larsen, Francis Keppel, and others.

The research uses of the Gutman's Special Collections informed the configuration of the new facility. According to Marylène Altieri, special collections librarian and archivist, researchers can benefit from browsing adjacent collections in the stacks. As an example, Altieri explains that a researcher interested in late 19th-century methods of teaching English could consult annual reports and private schools catalogs, develop comparative lists of textbooks used, and consult the textbooks themselves—all in a single research visit to the special collections. The new reading room and stacks are contiguous and separated by a glass wall that emphasizes the accessibility of the holdings.

With the renovation complete, HGSE has tremendously enhanced its services in two divergent areas—technology and historical materials. Throughout the renovation, the Gutman Library remained open to students, faculty, and outside researchers—although the Special Collections were stored off-site. According to John W. Collins III, HGSE librarian, "We were able to schedule the most disruptive work during off-hours and thereby to interfere as little as possible with classes and library use by students. Library users were given weekly construction updates on our web site and through photographs displayed on the television screen in the first floor lobby. Through good communication with students, faculty, construction workers, and library staff, work continued at a steady pace with minimal disruption."

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Last modified on Thursday, April 18, 2002.