Modern web-based technologies like e-books, e-journals, image databases and Borrow Direct enable students to discover knowledge more easily, quickly and inventively. The Harvard College Library and FAS Libraries work in close collaboration with the Harvard Library’s access services, Academic Technology Group, Harvard University Information Technology and other campus organizations to provide services, tools and resources to meet the needs of an evolving, 21st century library.
To help students and researchers wherever they are, HCL and FAS Libraries offer virtual “Ask a Librarian” services. By simply typing an inquiry into a search box, scholars are connected to a librarian or subject specialist who will reply within 24 hours. This year, “Ask a Librarian” services supplied information for nearly 5,000 questions; another 2,000 were answered by other library staff.
Virtual reference services are complemented by in-person consultations. In 2012-2013, 21,000 inquiries came to the Widener and Lamont information and reference desks.
The Harvard Map Collection, one of the oldest and largest collections of cartographic materials, welcomes classrooms and researchers to view its over 50,000 items in person and virtually through the Harvard Image Delivery Service. These maps have been georeferenced through the Harvard Geospatial Library.
Additionally, the Map Collection and Geospatial Library provide interactive zooming maps that can be searched by field or georeference.
Curators in the Map Collection and Center for Geographic Analysis are available to assist in creating customized views and in locating sources to construct tailored maps such as History and African-American Studies Professor Vincent Brown’s cartographic narrative, “Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761.”
Hundreds of library guides in disciplines from African studies to zoology assist scholars in finding materials by subject. In addition, the HCL and FAS Libraries create tailored guides to complement individual courses, as well as direction for study relevant to current events, such as the 2013 government shutdown.
In 2012-2013, the HCL and FAS Libraries expanded efforts to support research in the digital age, including:
- Expanding the Boundaries of Authorship: an overview of archive and stock footage, media authoring facilities, tutorials for using images, video and audio, background on media scholarship and copyright limitations;
- Top Ten Research Tips for GSAS Students: an interactive presentation tool for graduate students new to the libraries;
- Harvard’s Shared Shelf project with ARTstor: extensive visual materials curricular support that includes a collection of original Ancient Near East fieldwork images and a collection of images of India.
Multimedia Services & Training
In 2012-2013, increasing attention turned to HCL and FAS Libraries’ multimedia services and training opportunities, which include:
- The Multimedia Lab in Lamont Library, which provides powerful computers and a full suite of production, editing and publishing software—as well as the expertise to use it—to enable students and faculty to complement their traditional scholarship with visual and audio creativity;
- The cross-campus Digital Futures Consortium, which brings HCL and FAS Libraries together with the Harvard Library, Harvard University Information Technology, HarvardX, the Graduate School of Design and other specialized groups to investigate and implement emerging technologies in service of scholarship across all fields of study. Specifically, the consortium hosts lectures that consider new formats for visual and interactive presentation of academic materials;
- The Expanding the Boundaries of Authorship group, which brought together librarians and multimedia specialists to present on embracing forms of scholarship and course assignments beyond the written word. Expanding the Boundaries of Authorship’s Planning and Management Team hosted a Wintersession, “Multimedia Authoring Boot Camp, ” and created the “Library Guide for Multimedia Authoring”;
- Data Scientist Training for Librarians, a three-month course organized by Christopher Erdmann, head librarian of the Wolbach Library of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to teach library staff new tools for data management;
- Participating in the E-Science Institute, a program co-sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries, the Digital Library Federation and DuraSpace, to help academic and research libraries develop a strategic agenda for electronic research support, with focus on the sciences;
- Usability testing and gesture-based technology exploration at the Microsoft Surface tables in Wolbach, Lamont and Cabot libraries.