Harvard College Library Circulation and Reference letters, 1919-1976
- Harvard College Library (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Extent53.2 cubic feet (152 document boxes)
In 1914, while the building that would become the Widener Memorial Library was under construction, two students at the Graduate School of Business Administration surveyed Harvard's libraries in order to comply with then Director of the University Library Archibald Cary Coolidge's wish that work in the new building should begin with efficient systems and administration in place. The students recommended the creation of a reference department, and though this suggestion was adopted-- with Assistant Librarian Walter Benjamin Briggs serving as head of the Circulation and Reference Department beginning in 1915-- the Library provided minimal reference services until the late 1930s.
Over the broad time span of this collection, the Circulation and Reference Department underwent numerous changes, shifting with modernized library processes and technologies. Namely, with the growth of the Harvard Library system (which includes 72 libraries), the functions of the department were distributed amongst various staff within specific libraries, with greater knowledge of their specific collections. Still, the essential task of reference service remains the same.
Former call number
- Annual Reports of the Delivery Department, 1921-1944 (UAIII 50.8.114)
- Circulation and Reference Department Office files, circa 1960s (UAIII 18.104.22.168)
- Circulation and Reference Department correspondence subject file, 1930s-40s, 1962-68 (UAIII 22.214.171.124)
- Bentick-Smith, William. Building a Great Library: The Coolidge Years at Harvard. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976.
- Carpenter, Kenneth E. The First 350 Years of the Harvard University Library: Description of an Exhibition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.
- Coolidge, Archibald Cary, 1866-1928.
- Lane, William Coolidge, 1859-1931.
- Potter, Alfred Claghorn, 1867-1940.
- Tillinghast, William Hopkins, 1854-1913.
- Harvard College Library.
- Academic librarians.
- Academic libraries--Massachusetts--Cambridge.
- Academic libraries--Reference services.
- Harvard University--Libraries.
- Library employees.
- Universities and colleges--Libraries.
- Cambridge (Mass.)
Formats and genres
This finding aid was created by Leah Edelman in May 2016.
Preservation and description of the Harvard College Library Circulation and Reference letters was supported by the Harvard Library's Hidden Collections initiative.
- Harvard College Library. Harvard College Library Circulation and Reference letters, 1919-1976: an inventory
- Harvard University Archives
- EAD ID
Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository
Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.
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