Celebrating Research

  Library Overviews & Collection Profiles Contact:
ARL Web Manager

Harvard University Library

Library Overview

The Harvard University Library, the oldest and largest university library in the United States, is a system of more than 90 libraries with collections of more than 15.5 million volumes, as well as journals, primary source materials, images, audio and video recordings, and digital resources that span a wide range of subjects, languages, and dates.

Special collections are integral to nearly every Harvard library and reflect their mission to support the research and teaching of Harvard faculty, students, and researchers from around the world. These special collections are accessible in the Harvard University Library online catalogs and many are heavily used.

Most of Harvard's eleven schools or faculties, including Law, Medicine, Business, Design, Education, and Divinity, have special collections. There are numerous other special collections libraries that focus on particular subjects. These include the Archive of World Music at the Loeb Music Library, the Harvard Film Archive, the Bibliotheca Berenson at the Villa I Tatti in Florence, Italy, the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, the Schlesinger Library of the History of Women in America, the Library at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and the Library of the Gray Herbarium.

Houghton Library is the special collections library of Harvard College. The collections of Houghton Library focus on the study of Western civilization. Materials relating to American, Continental and English history and literature comprise the bulk of these collections and include special concentrations in printing and graphic art, and the theatre. The collections encompass wonderfully diverse holdings such as ostraca, daguerreotypes and the working papers of novelists and poets. In addition to Emily Dickinson, Houghton Library includes collections of Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Edward Lear, Dante, Lewis Carroll, John Keats, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and Cervantes.

Harvard University
Harvard University Library
Wadsworth House
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
(617) 495-3650 (t)
(617) 495-0370 (f)

Houghton Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
(617) 495-2441 (t)