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Programs & Initiatives

The Harvard Library will achieve its mission through a host of programs and initiatives.


Data Management Symposium

  • Harvard Library and Purdue University Libraries jointly hosted a data management symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June 2015. The purpose was to promote data awareness and integration of library services into the research cycle.


Ivy Plus

  • The Ivy Plus Libraries — Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Yale — comprise some of the greatest library collections in the world. Research, teaching, and learning librarians from Ivy Plus institutions gathered at Harvard in November 2014 to share ideas and best practices.


Digital Scholarship

  • The goal of the Digital Scholarship Program is to enable researchers to create, curate, and disseminate the digital objects related to research. Examples include textual files of articles and papers, data sets, software, astronomical images, annotated maps, large scale genome data and many others.

    Several organizations at Harvard already enable digital scholarship and bring support for digital curation of research objects. The Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University Information Technology, the Center for Biomedical Iinformatics at Countway Library and the Astrophysics Data System at the Center for Astrophysics are notable examples.

    The Program in its current stage involves a host of projects, including review of platforms for digital curation, development of services and training on Dataverse for researchers, including digital preservation and copyright advisory services, and outreach and community building. 



  •  If interoperability is "the art and science of working together" (John Palfrey & Urs Gasser), then libraries are about the interoperability of works, ideas and people. The Library Interoperability Project aims at increasing Library infrastructure's ability to support these ways of working together within Harvard University and across the networked world. Or, slightly more technically: the project aims at making it easier for systems and applications to operate on common data and metadata, and to share the knowledge and ideas that result. Our aim is to improve the Harvard Library ecosystem to:

    • Lower the technical hurdles to the sharing of content, data, metadata and knowledge throughout the Library system and beyond
    • Better support existing open standards, while accommodating the Harvard community's unique needs and skills
    • Further enable innovative developers to create new applications that take advantage of everything the Library knows
    • Continuously feed back the results of all interactions with the Library — while vigorously protecting privacy
    • Further support open access and the development of open source software

    We expect this initiative — which is currently in its early formative stage — may consist of:

    • Recommended standards and protocols for the encoding and interchange of information
    • A set of reference API's, based on existing standards and the unique needs of the Harvard community
    • Tools and services to help those building collections make them interoperable
    • A publicly-accessible hub/repository that lists current projects, experts and mentors, lessons learned, a library of links to the source code for current projects, and extensive documentation
    • Training and mentoring

    Ultimately, the aim is to increase the value of the Library's holdings and services by enabling the Harvard community to put more of the Library's riches to work. Visit the Interoperability Initiative Wiki. More details will be available as this initiative proceeds. Please contact David Weinberger, co-director of the Library Innovation Lab, with any comments or questions. 


Access to Information Through Partnerships

  • Full access to the world’s scholarly resources is impossible without alliances with other libraries and cultural institutions. In 2011 Harvard joined Borrow Direct and HathiTrust, and signed a new alliance between Harvard and MIT Libraries. All three partnerships will increase access to millions of print and digital volumes, and enhance Harvard’s digital preservation capabilities. 


Scholarly Communications

  • The term “scholarly communication” describes the variety of ways that scholars and researchers share their findings with one another and the broader public. This includes not only formal publication, such as peer-reviewed articles and books, but also the circulation of materials such as datasets and drafts of papers.In the context of the Harvard Library, scholarly communication refers to efforts by the University community to open, share and preserve scholarship. Harvard's Office for Scholarly Communication works to engender, support and execute policies that empower authors to widely distribute their scholarly work. The office also operates DASH, the University’s central open-access repository.


Pforzheimer Fellowships

  • With funding from Carl H. Pforzheimer III, the Harvard Library’s Pforzheimer Fellowships provide an opportunity for graduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to learn about possible careers in libraries and to discover new ways in which they could provide long-term benefits for the world of learning. Fellows also enhance their research skills by getting to know a great library from the inside.


Information Technology

  • Information technology is a key driver of the Harvard Library becoming an engine of innovation for teaching, learning and scholarship at the university and beyond. Our early efforts are focused on:

    • Creating a Harvard Library portal and web services that virtually integrate the libraries and extended repositories of content within and outside of Harvard
    • Supporting digital scholarship at Harvard and beyond
    • Creating a support structure for innovation and scaling innovations
    • Continuing to lead in scholarly communications and open access

    With the opportunities and challenges presented by an era marked by the fusion of digital and analog materials and increasingly more sophisticated user community, Harvard Library looks forward to contributing to advances in digital preservation, digital collection building, digitization, information dissemination, new forms of information analytics and information-based research, online education, search and discovery and self-archiving/publishing.


Collection and Content Development

  • In spring 2012, the Harvard Library Board approved a charge to develop a University-wide collection and content development strategy. The Library Affinity Group heads produced a final report in spring 2013 following extensive consultation with Library staff members, faculty, researchers and other key stakeholders. Feedback on interim reports was gathered from working groups, community-wide discussion sessions, Affinity Group meetings, online fora, one-on-one meetings and members of the Library Board and Faculty Advisory Council. Comments were gathered and assessed, then incorporated into the final report. The final report was approved by the Library Board in spring 2013. Read the final report, "Towards a Collection and Content Development Strategic Plan."