Harvard College Library

Hilles Expands Outreach Program by Offering Carrels

December 18, 2001 -- Freshmen flood Lamont, but students in their second-year and beyond use Hilles most intensively. In an ongoing effort to better serve this population, Hilles installed eight study carrels this fall to offer a yearlong assigned space to students gathering research materials while writing a senior thesis. The carrels complement the longstanding Senior Thesis Registry program, which provides individual reference support throughout the thesis writing process.

The new carrel program is already popular with students. "We had over twenty-five applications for only eight spots," said Anne Tanguay, Head of Access Services. Senior students working on a thesis are eligible to apply; the students are required to write an essay explaining how the carrel would benefit their work. The unexpected number of applicants and the current holders' heavy use of the carrels influenced expansion, "We have decided to double the number of Senior Thesis Carrels for next year," said Tanguay.

Leslie MacPherson Artinian, Evening Supervisor, and Anne Tanguay, Head of Access Services, stand next to a book-lined carrel.

Suzanne Kemple, Associate Librarian and Head of Reference, Leslie MacPherson Artinian, Evening Supervisor, and Tanguay masterminded the project. They contacted other HCL libraries with carrel programs to compare policies and procedures, and then used the information to compose a set of guidelines specific to Hilles' needs. Hilles is unique in offering assigned carrels exclusively to undergraduate students. Widener, Harvard-Yenching, Fine Arts, Loeb Music, and Tozzer libraries offer carrels to graduate students and visiting scholars; if extra carrels remain, undergraduates applicants are considered.

Artinian says the study carrel holders have become "a community within the Hilles community." Crowding the space with materials, the holders frequent their carrel almost daily. "Becoming better acquainted with the students has been one of the benefits of the program," Artinian continued.

Many of the study carrel holders were already taking advantage of the library's established Senior Thesis Registry program, which offers assistance in varying levels, from locating books to one-on-one consultations with research librarians. Chao Chen, Reference Librarian, noted that one of the most frequent services the Registry provides is assisting students in the early stages of research, as they and their faculty advisers are beginning to define their thesis topics. Subsequent assistance is provided throughout the process. Through the Registry program students also learn basic database searching techniques that enable them to locate materials and information more easily.

The Senior Thesis Carrels and the Senior Thesis Registry programs together offer valuable training and support to students who choose to undertake the daunting challenge of writing a senior thesis. According to Hilles staff these programs follow in "the spirit of Hilles" by furthering an atmosphere of community and helpfulness.

This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
Copyright © 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College