HCL assistant head of library billing and privileges Ann-Marie Costa displays a sample library pass, which will give MIT undergraduates access to HCL libraries.

Courtesy of Harvard College Library

Campus & Community

Harvard College, MIT launch pilot program

3 min read

To offer reciprocal borrowing privileges to undergraduate students

The Harvard College Library (HCL) and MIT Libraries have launched a pilot program that extends reciprocal borrowing privileges to undergraduates.

“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 for collection management. “It gives Harvard undergraduates access to an expanded range of materials and supports cross-enrollment programs. Reciprocal privileges also provide an opportunity for students to work collaboratively with their peers at MIT.”

Harvard students can enroll for borrowing privileges at Massachusetts Institute of Technology either online or in person at the Library Privileges Office in Widener Library. A valid Harvard ID is required to enroll. Students will receive an authorization form, which they must complete and take to the Hayden Library at MIT. Once enrolled, students will receive a library pass that will be valid through the spring term. Students can borrow from the Barker (engineering), Dewey (social sciences and management), Hayden (humanities), Lewis Music, Library Storage Annex (by appointment only), and Rotch (architecture and planning) libraries.

MIT students will have a similar registration process and will be given a borrowing card when they visit the HCL Privileges Office. The card will allow them to borrow from the Cabot, Fine Arts, Harvard-Yenching, Loeb Music, Tozzer, and Widener libraries. They will have in-library privileges at Houghton, the rare books and manuscripts depository, and at Lamont, where the collections support Harvard’s undergraduate curriculum.

Undergraduates aren’t the first to benefit from a reciprocal borrowing program between HCL and MIT. Faculty, staff, and graduate students have had reciprocal borrowing privileges since 1995. The pilot program for undergraduates will be assessed after 14 months.

For Harvard undergrads such as Elizabeth Bloom ’12 and Ana Enriquez ’10, the ability to borrow from MIT libraries opens the door to collections unavailable elsewhere.

“We tend to think of Harvard’s libraries as boundless, but even such a large collection has its limits,” Enriquez said. “I think this program will be a great opportunity for undergraduates, especially students concentrating in the sciences or taking courses at MIT, to access materials not held by Harvard.”

“This program means Harvard undergrads will now have more resources at their fingertips,” Bloom said. “I appreciate that MIT and Harvard are using their proximity to each other for undergraduates’ sake. I can imagine that Harvard thesis writers, especially in math/science, will reap many benefits.”

For additional information about MIT borrowing privileges, visit the HCL Web site, or call 617.495.4166.