On Monday, November 5th, Panopticon got a great personalized tour of the Harvard Fine Arts Library. For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s behind the Fogg Art Museum, near Harvard Square. And, if you didn’t get to check out the library with us, you should definitely go and hit up the art museum some weekend!
Anyway, a small group of us got to see the inner workings of the Fine Arts Library, which I guess (as we were told) is the largest fine arts library in Boston. We were given a tour of the preservation/conservation area and given an overview of how that all works. That was probably my favorite part because at GSLIS we don’t get to hear too much about that unless we take Preservation Management.
After that, we had people in public services and collection development tell us all about how the library functions and about the special collections there. It was really interesting! I had no idea that they really are open to researchers from all over the world, unlike some other Harvard libraries.
Finally, we made it to the Visual Resources department, where we saw first hand their enormous slide library, their collection of teaching photographs, their visual resources catalogue, and also their scanning facilities. The truly interesting thing about Harvard’s visual resources is that it’s not “fine arts” photography, but slides and photographs of objects of fine arts. This was all a teaching collection, so the images were used in classrooms by professors. And Harvard is in the middle of some digitization projects to make these images all available online instead of by slide carrel.
This was a really great tour and the people at the library were really excited to have us there. We even had cheese and crackers with many of them in the snack room after our tour, which, by the way, lasted two hours. Thanks to Panopticon for arranging this!