Harvard Library reopens physical spaces to non-academic affiliates | News

The Harvard Library reopened its physical spaces to visiting scholars and special borrowers last week for the second time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although library spaces first reopened to visiting scholars in October, the library did not grant access to non-Harvard affiliates this semester until February 28. Harvard affiliates have had access to physical library spaces since September.

Visiting scholars must make an appointment and bring proof of vaccination to the Widener Library Access and Borrowing Desk before they can use physical library spaces, according to the Harvard Library website.

Anna Burgess, a spokesperson for Harvard Libraries, wrote in an email that library management was closely monitoring University-wide health and safety guidelines throughout the pandemic. She added that the decision to reopen the physical spaces to visiting scholars was based on the orientation of visitors to the University.

The reopening will benefit more than 3,200 special borrowers with active accounts.

“With the reopening of our spaces, these special borrowers can once again access the physical collections circulating in the library spaces and browse the stacks in person before choosing which materials to borrow,” Burgess wrote.

“The people affected could be anyone from a prospective student visiting an exhibit at Houghton to an author doing research for a book in the Archives,” she added. “Individual libraries and archives manage visitors to their spaces and collections locally.”

Non-Harvard Affiliates have the option of choosing between two types of access – a Library Access Card and a Library Borrowing Card. While visitors with library passes can use a library’s computers and physical space, including reading rooms, they cannot access restricted storage areas.

Visitors with a library borrowing card enjoy the same benefits as holders of an access card, but they can also borrow documents from the library.

Visiting scholars and special borrowers who plan to take advantage of the reopening must follow certain guidelines, such as wearing a mask. Visitors are also advised not to come to campus if they feel sick or show symptoms of Covid-19.

Researchers who cannot visit library spaces in person can still browse the Harvard Library’s digital collection, which contains 6 million items. The library website also includes virtual exhibits, public events, and tours of library spaces.

Researchers will also still have access to the library’s hybrid services, which have been available to the public since summer 2020. These services include scanning and delivering books, as well as preparing books for pickup.

—Writer Jorge O. Guerra can be reached at [email protected]

—Editor Davin W. Shi can be reached at [email protected]

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