|Beautiful picture of a complete stranger outside the Widener|
The Archives works with faculty members to ensure that the course assignments use the primary sources from their collections. This has been highly successful as has the similar project at the Syracuse University Research Centre but at Harvard it is not the archivists or special collections staff doing the teaching but the faculty staff who introduce students to the collections and encourage them to use them.
We had a tour of the stacks and introduced to some of the issues of archival storage. The Archives stores much of their material in a warehouse, which has much better climate control and even has the surrounding trees cut down and trimmed so that, in the event of a storm, no trees will fall on the warehouse and potentially damage it. Items are only sent to the warehouse when a full EAD finding aid has been created and there is a rigorous checking in and out system for items in transit to ensure that the location of items is known at all times and adequate climate conditions met as much as possible.
One member of staff is focused on ensuring that faculty members leave their papers to Harvard when they leave and this is an aspect of archives that I had not considered. The University Archives are actively working to safeguard the future of the collections. This member of staff is also in charge of collection management and made a very valid point when discussing records of the surrounding area. If an archive is the only one in the vicinity then does it have an obligation to collect items related to the community? The local history of Cambridge is inextricably linked to the history of Harvard and so their exhibitions incorporate this focus.
|View from Longfellow bridge towards Boston|
We got a sneak peak inside the vault which holds the most precious items of the collections such as the official Harvard crimson and valuable items such as J.F.K.'s dissertation. Very exciting. It was great to be able to discuss issues such as EAD, digitisation, social media (not embraced), budget, creating e-mail archives etc. with another University's Archives and it really hit home, having Charlotte on hand too, that archives and libraries really aren't that different across the pond.