The hardcover books lining the walls of Dudley Library are well-worn, but hardly used these days in what’s become primarily a gathering space in Harvard’s graduate student center in Lehman Hall. Photographs of former House administrators, dating to when the Dudley community lived in the building, still decorate a hallway.
Brenda Tindal — who as campus curator is tasked with overseeing visual culture and signage across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — sees both as opportunities for change.
“We’re identifying ways to make sure graduate students see themselves and feel like the [Student Center at Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences] is really a home away from their home academic departments. That it is a place where they can ensure that there is no poverty of imagination as they undergo their graduate work, but also a social space where they interface with the vast and interdisciplinary graduate school community — students, faculty, and administrators,” Tindal said. “The visual culture and overarching ethos of the center is so key to our graduate students — feeling not only part of Lehman Hall, but part of the Harvard community writ large.”
In Dudley Library for instance, objects, photographs, ephemera, and select artworks will be archived for perpetuity, while books will be de-accessioned and returned to appropriate University collections. The overarching goal is to create a space that is in greater alignment with the ethos, needs, and aspirations of the current community.