Houghton Library

Holding Classes at Houghton

Houghton Library welcomes classes working with our collections.  Our Seminar Rooms, on the second floor of Houghton Library, may be reserved for instructors wishing to bring a class to consult Houghton material as a group. We can accommodate fifteen adult students per session between the hours of 9:30 am and 4:30 pm on weekdays throughout the year. We are sometimes able to make special arrangements for class meetings outside of these hours.

To request a class visit, please enter the Special Collections and Archives Class Request Tool by clicking the image below.

Request a class

Once your request has been confirmed (room scheduled and staff assigned), you can begin to choose the material you wish to show your students.  Our holdings are found in HOLLIS, the main Harvard Library catalog and OASIS, a database of finding-aids for manuscript collections.   To make requests, you will need to set up a User Account.  Houghton staff can suggest material that may be pertinent to your subject, and you may also want to explore further by visiting the descriptions of our collections on Houghton’s website (click on the Collections bar), our exhibitions, and the Houghton Library Blog

Teaching spaces are in great demand so early reservations are essential.

Whether you submit your request electronically or contact us by e-mail, please let us know:

  • the course title and number
  • contact information for the instructor responsible for the class
  • the number of students in the class (our classroom can accommodate 15 people per session)
  • three possible dates and times for your class visit, in order of preference
  • the best times for you to meet with a librarian ahead of time to discuss materials and procedures for the class
  • your A/V requirements, if any.  The room has a laptop, overhead camera, and projector.  If you’d like to use this equipment, please ask for a demonstration.
  • whether you would like us to create a course resource guide or bibliography for your class
  • and whether you would like librarian/curatorial staff to be directly involved in the presentation.  If so, we will do our best to match you up with a Houghton staff member who has experience with the materials you want to cover.

Instructors will need to schedule a pre-class meeting with Houghton staff to finalize arrangements.

Requests are limited to a total of 12 books and manuscripts per session and must be submitted seven days before the class is scheduled to meet so we have sufficient time to gather material, seek approval from the curators, and find workable substitutes for any books or manuscripts that are too fragile for use. To request materials for a class, you must register for a User Account. See Access to Special Collections for more information. 

We look forward to having your class here at Houghton Library.

To download or link to classroom our policies, please click the image below.

Request a class

For the day of the class, please keep in mind that:

  • No food or drink is permitted in the Library.
  • All bags, knapsacks, folders and other containers must be placed in lockers.
  • Students and faculty should bring as little as possible to the Seminar Room itself.  Pencils and paper for note-taking are provided. 
  • The lobby guard must inspect all items that seminar participants bring in and out of the Seminar Room.
  • All classes will be introduced briefly by a staff member to the repository and provided with basic handling instructions.
  • The material will be arranged on the Seminar Room table or in a display case. Students can circulate around the table to examine the material closely but books and manuscripts may not be passed from hand to hand.
  • Equipment (such as scanners or light sources) that rests directly on collection material is not permitted.
  • Reference photography of class materials may be permitted if arrangements are made in advance.  Please see our Digital Camera Policy.

Thank you.

For the days following the class, please remember that you are welcome to return to Houghton as and consult materials in the Reading Room.