"A great collection, like a museum of natural history or archaeology, is not only to be made useful to the present generation, it is also to be transmitted safely to future generations." -Harvard President Charles William Eliot, 1873
Since 1638, generous support of alumni/ae and friends has been key to building and sustaining Harvard's library collections. Nearly 400 years after John Harvard's bequest, Harvard University is the steward of one of the great libraries of the world. The Harvard collection is peerless in magnitude, global reach and overall breadth. Library staff is unequaled in their support of research, teaching and learning.
Collecting for the Future
The Harvard Library strives to reflect the complex world of scholarship and information in the 21st century. Meeting the challenge means must acquiring, disseminating and preserving information in all the forms in which it is created. Today's acquisitions range from traditionally published books to "born digital" objects that exist only in cyberspace.
Support is needed to strengthen traditional and digital collections, and to acquire materials worldwide.
Harvard's library holdings embrace thousands upon thousands of individual items that are historical, rare or unique. These materials range from illuminated manuscripts and the earliest of printed books to photographs gathered since the dawn of photography, as well as personal papers and organizational records, cartographic holdings from around the world, and much more. Working with these materials has long been an irreplaceable part of a Harvard education.
Increasing access to unique materials requires increased investment in preservation and digitization.
Legendary collections plus excellent service lead to effective learning, cutting-edge research and new knowledge. The University strives to retain and cultivate an exemplary cadre of librarians, archivists, technologists and other dedicated professionals who serve the University with skill and innovation. These extraordinary individuals make the Harvard collections come alive every day.
Underwriting for strategic positions across the library system adds important value to Harvard's collections.