Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

HCL and MIT Libraries Strike a Deal for Undergraduates

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HCL Assistant Head of Library Billing and Privileges Ann-Marie Costa displays a sample library pass which will give MIT undergraduates access to HCL libraries.

April 5, 2010 – Harvard College Library (HCL) and MIT Libraries have launched a pilot program, effective April 5, to extend reciprocal borrowing privileges to undergraduate students. 

“This program offers students the best of both libraries’ collections, with MIT’s rich in science and engineering and HCL’s in humanities and social sciences.  It gives Harvard undergraduates access to an expanded range of materials and supports cross-enrollment programs.  Reciprocal privileges also provide an opportunity for students to work collaboratively with their peers at MIT,” said Marilyn Wood, Associate Librarian of Harvard College for Collection Management

Harvard students can enroll for MIT borrowing privileges either online or in person at the Library Privileges Office, located in Widener Library.  A valid Harvard ID is required to enroll.  Students will receive an authorization form, which they must complete and take to the Hayden Library at MIT.  Once enrolled, students will receive a library pass that will be valid through the end of spring term.  Students can borrow from the Barker (engineering), Dewey (social sciences and management), Hayden (humanities and sciences), Lewis Music, Library Storage Annex (by appointment only), and Rotch (architecture and planning) libraries.

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MIT students will have a similar registration process on their campus and will be given a borrowing card when they visit HCL Privileges.  The card will allow them to borrow from Cabot, Chemistry, Fine Arts, Harvard-Yenching, Loeb Music, Physics, Tozzer and Widener libraries.  They will have in-library use only privileges at Houghton, the rare books and manuscripts depository, and Lamont, where the collections support Harvard’s undergraduate curriculum. 

Undergraduates aren’t the first to benefit from a reciprocal borrowing program between HCL and MIT – faculty, researchers, and graduate students have had reciprocal borrowing privileges since 1995. The pilot for undergraduates will be assessed after 14 months.  Both Harvard and MIT will collect data, including circulation and head counts, and will conduct informal surveys to determine the value of the program.

“Not only will this pilot provide an opportunity for our undergraduates to explore and make use of expanded collections, but it also builds on an existing collaboration with MIT, and may serve as a model for service relationships in the future,” said Wood.

For Harvard undergrads Elizabeth Bloom and Ana Enriquez, the ability to borrow from MIT libraries opens the door to new and unique collections which simply aren’t available elsewhere.

“We tend to think of Harvard's libraries as boundless, but even such a large collection has its limits,” Enriquez said. “I think this program will be a great opportunity for undergraduates, especially students concentrating in the science or taking courses at MIT, to access materials not held by Harvard.”

“This program means Harvard undergrads will now have more resources at their fingertips,” Bloom agreed. “I appreciate that MIT and Harvard are using their proximity to each other for undergraduates' sake. I can imagine that Harvard thesis writers, especially in math/science in particular, will reap many benefits. Though I don't specifically know how I might utilize MIT's libraries yet, I am excited and grateful for the opportunity and hope to use them before I graduate.”

For additional information about MIT borrowing privileges visit the HCL website or contact the Library Privileges Office at 617-495-4166.