Undergrads may sign up for Harvard library privileges

Under a new pilot system between the MIT Libraries and the Harvard College Library (HCL), MIT undergraduates may now borrow from select Harvard libraries. Undergraduates were able to begin signing up for HCL Special Borrower cards yesterday. The cards grant access to several of Harvard’s 70-plus libraries.

Previously, undergraduates were unable to apply for borrower cards, and the privilege was only available to MIT graduate students, research staff, and faculty. The process for applying for borrowing privileges for graduate students, staff and faculty will remain the same, and those already possessing borrower cards retain their privileges.

Participating Harvard libraries are the Widener, Cabot Science, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music, Fine Arts, Tozzer (Anthropology), and Harvard-Yenching libraries. On-site-only access is available at the Houghton (rare books and manuscripts) and Lamont (Harvard undergraduate curriculum support) libraries with the Special Borrower card. In particular, the Special Borrower card is not honored at the Baker (Business School), Countway (Medicine), Gutman (Education), Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Law School libraries. Undergraduates may apply separately for in-room access to the Countway and Frances Loeb (Design) libraries, and can pay for access to Baker Library.

Harvard undergraduates will have borrowing privileges at MIT’s Barker, Dewey, Hayden, Lewis, and Rotch libraries, as well as appointment-only access to the Library Storage Annex.

“This program offers students the best of both libraries’ collections, with MIT’s rich in science and engineering and HCL’s in humanities and social sciences,” said Marilyn Wood, associate librarian of Harvard College for Collection Management, in an HCL press release.

The program will be evaluated after 14 months. According to the HCL, both Harvard and MIT will collect data such as circulation and usage to evaluate the value of the pilot program.

According to the Harvard University Library system website, the Harvard University Library is the largest academic library in the world, housing over 16 million volumes. The library began with 400 books bequeathed by John Harvard in 1638.