Harvard’s Libraries

I think I’m finally realizing that I’ve got just over two years before my beau graduates from Harvard and that there are many resources on campus that I have yet to access.  While I’ve started using library system, there is still more to discover.  There are tours and/or special exhibits all over so this past week I went adventuring across the campus to discover a few more of the treasures Harvard has to share.

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Widener Library – The room was transported here from Europe (essentially the bones of an old home library were purchased and shipped over) and did I mention that there’s a few old manuscripts here?

Please say hello to Widener Library (better yet, here).  This is the largest library on campus.  Here’s the thing: in order to enter you need to have a library card (check), be a visiting scholar or be registered as a visitor.  Not sure how the last one works but from what I can tell you have to plan in advance.  There are several people in the building who have been more than happy to point me in the correct direction so that I get the most out of my visits.  My first visit I went into the stacks (!!!) and checked out a few books.  Since then I’ve returned a few, drooled over the floor to ceiling shelves dedicated to Jane Austen,taken a tour and enjoyed the sitting areas.  Its a gigantic library and yet there are many more books in Harvard’s system than could be stored here and the one’s not chosen for the shelves here can be found at Harvard’s book depot known as the Depository.  Its about a 30 mile journey down the road.  And locked behind a gate.  Fortunately they’re pretty easy to access since quite a few are online and most are accessible via request.  More on that when Houghton comes up.

So a little bit of info on Widener:  its named for Harry Elkins Widener whose mother donated the finances to build a library as a memorial to her son.  Unfortunately passed away at sea on the Titanic.  Here’s the thing: he loved books.  At the age of 25, he had amassed a pretty decent collection and most reside in a living room-esque  memorial room that had been dismantled from an estate in Europe.  Its not as grand as what you’d see in Newport, RI but its within the same realm.  His desk and a few other pieces also grace the room including the family’s Gutenberg Bibles.

IMG_1271The other library that I visited this week was the Houghton Library (here).  This where the special collections are stored and easily accessible by the general public.  Right now there is a Shakespeare exhibit in the main room downstairs (aka Edison and Newman Room where they also host concerts, talks, parties, ect – especially since its recent renovation).  On the tour you’ll see the Johnson, Keats and Dickinson rooms.  While its nowhere near as imposingly grand as Widener, its certainly impressive and beautiful.

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Keats Room (fairly certain it goes by another name…)

The guides who give the tours at Harvard’s libraries are actual librarians who have many years with their respective libraries.  They are extremely proud of the history and contribution to Harvard, academia and the community their library has made.

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Emily Dickenson’s Room – She maintains all of her home furnishings, purchases papers/books, and maintains their safety and access through copyright.  Mostly thanks to publishers who felt the need to change her work when it was first published.

Outside of the library system, there is also the art museum’s study center. A couple of weeks ago I talked about requesting a visit so that I could visit with my beau over his spring break.  There are also a few science museums.  Check out Harvard’s list here if you’re interested in visiting, too!

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