June 28, 2019

Let’s start off this entry with some amazing statistics about the Swartz Hall renewal project: 715 boxes and 18,000 books.

This is how many books faculty members and Andover-Harvard Theological Library donated to Better World Books. The social enterprise organization collects and sells books online, and funds literacy initiatives worldwide. Since its founding in 2003, it has diverted more than 250,000 tons of books from landfills. Books that can’t be sold are frequently donated to at-risk communities in the United States, and it has donated more than 6 million college textbooks, primarily to schools in Africa. HDS’s partnership with Better World Books goes back at least seven years, and the organization also works with other Harvard libraries.

Before actual construction can begin there is a lot preparation work that needs to be done, including the relocating of offices—and the books within them. As part of the temporary relocation, it was necessary that faculty members with offices in Swartz Hall trim their book collections. The process involved staff at Andover-Harvard Theological Library who helped comb through the collections and identified some books that it wanted to keep and others that Widener Library wanted in its holdings.

The reconfiguration of the interior of the building also made it necessary for Andover-Harvard Theological Library to relocate some of its collection to Harvard’s off-site depository, where those items can be recalled and delivered to users within a couple of days. As part of this process, the library also reviewed its collection for titles that were not in its core area of responsibility and which were held by one or more other Harvard libraries.

Books in Swartz Hall

Boxes in Swartz Hall

One of the aspects of working at HDS that I love is our community’s desire to find ways to help others at each and every turn. This was evident throughout the early part of this year during the moving phase of the renewal effort. The book review and donation I write about above is a good example of everybody at HDS pulling together to make things happen with a positive result.

I can’t thank enough the faculty members and AHTL staff who put in a lot of effort to help make this part of the move easier and allow this donation to happen. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank Sue Reuther, operations and events logistics coordinator, for organizing the book packing and donation, and much more.

Site work. During the week of July 1, crews will begin the demolition of the cloister link. This is the area where the new addition will be built, and which will include a common space, café, flexible modernized classrooms, and accessible entrances. Over at 60 Oxford Street, the buildout of temporary classroom and meeting space (pictured below) continues and moves closer to completion. Check back soon for updated floor plans.

Sperry/Braun Room at 60 Oxford

Classroom at 60 Oxford

—Ralph