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Access to Information

With thousands of new titles entering circulation every year, full access for Harvard’s patrons to the world’s scholarly resources is impossible without alliances with other libraries and cultural institutions.




Borrow Direct

In 2011, Harvard joined Borrow Direct, a strategic alliance among the libraries of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale. The partnership will enable users to search a combined Borrow Direct catalog of more than 50 million volumes at all nine participating institutions and to request prompt delivery of circulating items. Entering the network reinforces the University’s commitment to ensuring that students and faculty members have full access to scholarly materials as it restructures the library system in response to a rapidly changing technological and intellectual landscape. 




In 2011, the Harvard Library joined HathiTrust, a shared digital repository for published materials that is co-owned and co-managed by the academic and public libraries. The mission of HathiTrust is to “contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating and sharing the record of human knowledge.” Currently, the shared repository contains more than 7.9 million digitized volumes in 355 terabytes of storage.

By affiliating with HathiTrust, Harvard gained more than new strengths in digital preservation. HathiTrust offers new access and discovery points for users and provides a significant new service, affording users the opportunity to create virtual collections. Harvard also adds a new dimension to a well-established digital preservation program, the centerpiece of which is the Digital Repository Service (DRS). The DRS is one of the foremost digital repositories in the world, containing nearly 21 million files representing a broad range of traditional and born-digital formats and 120 terabytes of storage. Selected files in the DRS will also be held in the HathiTrust respository.



Harvard and MIT Libraries joined in an alliance in 2011. Under the agreement, the two libraries are developing a four-tiered action plan, including reciprocal access to circulating collections, enhancing digital preservation and collection practices, developing wider access to electronic information and envisioning joint off-site storage facilities for the future. The partnership allows Harvard researchers to access an additional 20 million items.