Houghton Library is Harvard College's rare books and manuscripts library. The collections at Houghton focus on the study of Western civilization and are especially strong in American, Continental, and English history and literature, but also include significant cultural materials from around the world representing a wide range of experiences. The collections encompass diverse holdings: from the world famous to the entirely unknown, the ancient to the immediate. We host classes in the arts, humanities, sciences, and more.
In August 2019, Houghton Library will close as we begin a year-long renovation. Our goal: to make the building more accessible and welcoming while enhancing research and teaching spaces. To learn more about the renovation and interim services, visit the Houghton Renovation website. While the renovation is underway, the library's collections continue to be accessible for teaching and research.
While Houghton will make extensive efforts to maintain normal operations during the renovation period, we expect to be operating under some constraints with regard to staff time and the availability of meeting spaces and collections. Therefore, we are planning to make some changes to our teaching and instruction program during the renovation year that we hope will keep the logistics manageable while continuing our fundamental commitment to Houghton Library’s role in teaching at Harvard.
The current Houghton Library classrooms will be unavailable during the renovation period, so we have secured temporary classroom spaces that will enable us to continue to host Harvard classes working with Houghton collections. Due to limited facilities during renovations, we will only be able to accommodate class visits from Harvard University courses.
This is a temporary adjustment as we remain committed to hosting classes from outside the Harvard community, and will be happy to welcome back these classes when we reopen in September 2020. Instructors from outside of Harvard who would like for their classes to utilize Houghton's materials are encouraged to contact Houghton teaching staff, who are available to think through alternatives to a class visit.
Harvard instructors looking to schedule visits during the renovation period will need to keep these temporary policy changes in mind:
Harvard courses will be limited to one Houghton visit per semester. Multi-section classes will need to use the same collection material for each section visit. We will work with instructors to find other options to supplement class sessions.
Classes will need to be requested a minimum of four weeks in advance, with final material requests made a minimum of two weeks in advance. Some collection material may be unavailable during the renovation. We will make every effort to suggest alternatives.
Class scheduling will be limited to Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 4:30, and except in extraordinary circumstances will be limited to 90 minutes in length.
Recent classes at the Houghton Library include Interracial Encounters in American Literature and Culture, Intermedia Italy: Poetry and Visuality in the Twentieth Century and Spectacular France.
- Houghton Library Research Guide
- Assistance with presentation of materials in class
- Assistance with selection of materials
- Bibliography of materials used in class
- Pre-class appointment for instructor (required for first time requester, recommended for everyone)
- Introduction to Archives and Special Collections Research
- Document Camera
- VHS video player
- CD audio player
- Touchscreen monitor