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Frances Loeb Library Update

by Ann Whiteside, Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Services at the Frances Loeb Library

Facade of the Frances Loeb Library

The Frances Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has been undergoing changes over the last few years that will reposition the design school library for the 21st century and beyond. Last fiscal year, the Design School underwent an in-depth design planning process for the physical space of the library in conjunction with the GSD’s Computer Resources Group. We are exploring the roles that information and information technology can play in teaching, learning, and research, and how we can meet a growing need for technologically advanced collaborative design work at the GSD through physical space and virtual services.

The first phase of the physical transformation, just completed, created a new space for IT HelpDesk and Media Services staff, a new InfoCommons space, and a transformation of the GSD’s Special Collections. The InfoCommons sits at the axis of the library and IT spaces, and will provide the opportunity to explore the integration of library and IT within the context of research, teaching, and learning at the GSD.

As we transform our physical space, we are re-envisioning our service models as well. Our re-envisioning is a collaborative process that involves departments across the GSD and beyond, because that is the path the library sees to support the evolution of design work. For this academic year we are re-envisioning a service model for our expanded Special Collections, which now includes archival collections, the Le Corbusier Research Collection, Materials Collection, rare books, and Visual Collections. Our hours of access to Special Collections are expanded to 9–5 Monday through Friday. The service model will include student employees and library staff across Loeb Library participating in a rotation of assisting patrons in the new reading room. 

The library is working with GSD Student Services to redevelop the GSD’s Language Resource Center and launching Academic Writing Services @ the Frances Loeb Library this fall; the library will focus on developing writing skills as part of the research life cycle and professional practice, and Student Services will focus on assisting students with presentation skills and developing portfolios. Writing Services will include peer tutoring, online services and workshops, and will be integrated into our existing thesis preparation classes. 

We are exploring further synergies between the library and IT that will develop stronger support for the academic life of students and faculty at the GSD. Library and IT staff are immersing themselves in learning about Canvas, as well as experimenting with teaching in technology-enabled spaces that will allow us to explore new pedagogical methods. 

We are looking forward to the new academic year in which we will launch the beginning of the newly conceived design library with additional services, and the next phase of planning for physical and virtual spaces.

Article written by Ann Whiteside. 
Article published on September 15, 2015.