May 16, 2022

Rare Books & Manuscripts: A New Vision For Harvard’s Houghton Library, Major Renovation to Begin in September

From The Harvard Gazette:

An upcoming renovation to Houghton Library will modernize its research and teaching facilities, expand its exhibition galleries, improve physical access to its spaces and holdings, and create a more welcoming, inviting, and accessible environment.

The renovation represents a key component of a larger vision for the rare books library, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. It serves as a research center and teaching laboratory for students and faculty across many disciplines that use primary sources, hosting nearly 300 class visits each year and programming a series of exhibitions and events that draw a range of visitors from across Harvard and surrounding communities. To expand its reach vastly, the library’s digitization efforts have placed its collections within reach of researchers around the world.


The renovations were made possible through generous donations, including a major gift from philanthropist and bibliophile Peter J. Solomon ’60, M.B.A. ’63, and his wife, Susan, whose extensive collection of rare and treasured children’s literature and illustrations provided the catalyst for the renovation. The Solomon collection includes a copy of the suppressed first edition of “Alice in Wonderland,” as well as additional works by Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, Edward Lear, and other authors. The Solomons’ promised donation sparked an effort to make Houghton more welcoming to the Harvard community and visitors alike.


Source: Harvard Gazette


“Today’s libraries are much more deeply engaged in teaching and outreach, and in an era where digital information is so prevalent, connecting people with our special collections and original materials which resonate with the context of their time and form is a key goal of Harvard Library,” said Thomas. “As a member of the Harvard College Library and Harvard Library, Houghton plays an important role in opening up the magic of collections and libraries to all visitors, as well as supporting research and teaching.”

Construction will begin next September, and the building will be closed until September 2020.

Read the Complete Article, View Drawings

From a Houghton Library Blog Post by Thomas Hyry, Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library:

The plans for Houghton align with the commitment by the university, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Harvard Library to provide more inclusive, welcoming spaces for students, faculty, researchers, staff, and visitors from across campus and around the world. This renovation is a key component of a larger group of initiatives that will ensure Houghton becomes an even more active and valuable resource for current and future generations.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.