The Frances Loeb Library holds over 300,000 volumes, and maintains subscriptions to about 900 periodicals. Comprehensive coverage is provided for all levels of technology and research in the design fields. The library is particularly strong in its coverage of twentieth-century architecture, city and regional planning, American domestic architecture and nineteenth-century U.S. park and cemetery design. 

All books and periodicals in this library can be located through the HOLLIS Catalog. The Library has web stations in the reference area on the first floor as well as on the lower level which can be used to access the HOLLIS Catalog. The HOLLIS Catalog can be searched by author, title, subject and key words. Help is available online, and with the assistance of the reference staff. Most materials in the general collection and periodicals are located in the lower level stacks or the Call Number Subject Guide for general browsing purposes. Materials indicated as Special Collections orVisual Collections are located in those departments on the lower level. (See their web pages for hours and restrictions).


Bound volumes of periodicals are shelved on the lower level alphabetically by catalog entry, usually the title, in stack ranges 55-69. They do not have call numbers, and are designated in HOLLIS (the online catalog) as “Per”. Current issues of the major design journals are on display in the upper level reading room.

Core Collection

The Library maintains a core collection of standard works and illustrated survey books for quick student access. Located throughout the classified book stacks, core collection titles do not circulate. They are indicated by bookplates and by CORE labels on the binding. Check the circulation record in HOLLIS for individual titles to determine if they are “CORE” copies. Often, a second circulating copy is available.

Rare Books

Materials indicated as rare do not circulate and can be requested in the Special Collections Department from 1:00-4:45pm, Monday through Friday.

Vertical Files

The vertical files (VF) are located in stack ranges 42-44. They contain pamphlet publications cited in HOLLIS. The materials are arranged by abbreviated call numbers; therefore one needs the complete author and title information from HOLLIS to identify the piece within a specific call number section. The materials may be used only within the library. The VF NAB collection of landscape architecture materials is available on 120 microfilm reels in the microfilm area of the library. The microfilm item number for a particular item is sometimes indicated in the HOLLIS record; if it is not, the number can be determined by looking in the small card catalog on top of the microfilm cabinets.

Thesis Materials

The Frances Loeb Library retains GSD master's theses and a number of student papers of merit in the Special Collections Department. Some theses are represented by a second circulating copy in the stacks. Theses are not kept in a collection browsable by patrons. To locate theses in the HOLLIS Catalog consult Finding GSD Theses. All Harvard Ph.D. dissertations are housed in theHarvard University Archives in Pusey Library.

Other Printed Materials

  • Maps: The Library collects maps and atlases to support the design collections. Atlases are kept in the reference area and are cataloged in HOLLIS. Printed Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are located in the Folio stacks, the microfilm collection and the Visual Resources Department. Digital Sanborn Maps are also available online for 1867-1970. There are also a selected group of other kinds of maps in the Visual Resources Department. Researchers should also consult the Harvard Map Collection in Pusey Library where the majority of maps at the University are located.  
  • Soil Surveys: A representative selection of soil surveys, for New England states, California, Florida and New Jersey) are shelved in Aisle 53. Additional soil surveys are housed at the Cabot Science Library.  
  • Microforms: The library has a microfilm and microfiche reader/printer. The library's holdings on microfilm include some older U.S. periodicals, the Historic American Buildings Survey, the RIBA measured drawings collection, the H.H. Richardson photograph albums and the Martin Wagner collection. Microfiche holdings include monograph reprints, census reports and some NTIS publications. Users are welcome to bring their own microfilms.  
  • Government Documents: Harvard University is a registered depository for all U.S. government documents. Published documents in topics relating to the design fields including housing, land use, conservation, environmental issues and building technology are received by the library. Government documents are cataloged and listed in HOLLIS. Documents in the government documents area which date from 1953 to the present are retained by the library for approximately 5 years and then discarded. Pre-1953 materials are retained permanently and are, for the most part, cataloged in the stacks. For access to U.S. government documents from 1953 to the present on microfilm, consult the Government Documents Division of the Harvard University library system (Lamont Library, Level One).


Michelle Baildon
Collections Strategy Team Lead Librarian