HKS Library Filters Books, Creates Space

Renovations help increase access to critical content

Recently, the Harvard Kennedy School administration became increasingly concerned regarding the amount of study space available to its students.

In hopes of opening up more room for students, the Kennedy School has moved its administrative offices to 124 Mount Auburn Street and undergone a reorganization of its library.

In the early fall of 2009, the Kennedy School Student Government—taking into consideration feedback from HKS students—helped design a fast-tracked renovation project for the HKS Library, which was set to be completed in Jan. 2010. The organization’s goal was to alter library space to provide easier access to critical content.

In addition to increasing outlets and providing newer copiers, HKS turned about 40 percent of its library stack space into individual and group study space, according to Melodie L. Jackson, associate dean for communications and public affairs for HKS.

Because the HKS Library primarily houses more recently-published books—Widener and other Harvard libraries tend toward historic collections—HKS was able to create study space by weeding out books and journals. All books that were removed are no longer current and already available through other Harvard libraries, and all journals removed are available online or in stable repositories, according to Heather McMullen, director of library and knowledge services at HKS.


“We were very careful to retain older classic works, faculty publications, and any materials unique to Harvard,” McMullen wrote in an e-mail.

According to McMullen, the majority of the books weeded out were then donated to Better World Books, a for-profit organization that collects books and sells them online to raise money for literacy initiatives.

Any books that Better World Books did not accept were donated to Got Books, which donates and sells books overseas and to educators through its affiliates to prevent books from turning into waste.

The HKS Library also donated print journals to the East Coast Exchange program, which allows libraries to fill gaps in their journal collections.

The new furniture, which will provide a net gain of 36 seats, is expected to arrive next week, according to McMullen.

“We’re continuing to seek more opportunities to provide students with space,” Jackson said.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at