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Innovations Across Harvard's Libraries

Abigail Bordeaux of the Scaling Innovation Initiative summarizes some innovative library projects.


March 25, 2014—Collections, once hidden, made visible and accessible through addition to HOLLIS. QR codes in the stacks pointing library users to related subject guides on the web. Scanning selected book pages at the point of cataloging. These are just a few of the improvements and additions to library services that have taken place over the past few years under the auspices of Harvard Library’s initiatives to promote more innovation and experimentation. While large-scale initiatives often draw the most attention, a series of smaller projects that have bubbled up through programs like the Harvard Library Lab are benefiting users in many different ways. Here are some recent innovative projects that are still going strong after the close of their prototype or pilot phases:

  • “Reusable Tablet App for Library Collections” developed an API and a mobile interface for browsing collections in a device-appropriate format. Learn more.
  • “Connecting the Dots,” a collaboration between Harvard and Yale universities, demonstrated the use of a new archival standard, Encoded Archival Context­ Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (EAC-CPF), to describe the creators of collections and link them to related people and primary sources, including collections held across multiple institutions. Learn more.
  • “QR Codes in the Library” links the Loeb Music Library stacks with related online resources, such as subject guides. Learn more.
  • “Harvard Film Archive in HOLLIS” added the Harvard Film Archive holdings to HOLLIS, surfacing a hidden collection that was previously inventoried only in a stand-alone FileMaker database. Learn more.
  • “Scanning Key Content” inserts scanning into the accessioning process for some of Harvard’s hidden printed book collections, expanding HOLLIS availability of content such as covers and tables of contents beyond what is generally available through commercial services. Learn more.
  • “Who is Using Data and Why?”, a collaboration between the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and library staff, developed a tool to track Dataverse Network usage information in a way consistent with ALA privacy policies as well as the needs of data owners and collection administrators, in particular to support the data management plan requirements of research funding agencies. Learn more.