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Archival Collecting Framework at Frances Loeb Library

We document the past and present of the design disciplines to empower researchers to tell those stories now and in the future.  

The Frances Loeb Library collects, curates, preserves, stewards, and shares unique and distinctive archival collections that document the history of the design disciplines and the GSD. Through the regular addition of new collections, which include both analog and born-digital records, we expand the intellectual assets of the GSD and grow and sustain a dynamic, living archive. Our collections engage researchers, students, and faculty across Harvard and around the world. We encourage this engagement with our collections by arranging, describing, and preserving material to facilitate digitization, exhibition, presentation, and publication. Through our curation we have agency in design education and the making of design history. 

Core Values: 
As part of a larger community of cultural heritage professionals, the Frances Loeb Library subscribes to the core values and codes of ethics as stated by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the International Confederation of Architectural Museums (ICAM). Among these values are commitments to: promotion of access and use of our collections; cooperation and collaboration with colleagues, communities, donors, and users; transparency in our actions; diversity; social responsibility; respect for the privacy of the creators and the subjects of records; respectful use of culturally sensitive materials; responsible stewardship; and sustainability. As members of the GSD community and archivists and librarians of the design fields, we understand the power of design to effect positive change both globally and locally. Our work of stewardship and collection-building enables these stories to be told, as well as enabling critique and accountability so we can better collectively realize that potential. 

The Frances Loeb Library has drafted the following principles to guide us in the selection and curation of our archival collections. The principles can stand separately and do not need to be applied in combination (i.e., new collections do not have to meet every principle; indeed, it’s unlikely that any particular collection will). An overarching principle is to advance the mission of the GSD: “to educate leaders in design, research, and scholarship to make a more resilient, just, and beautiful world.” 

We strive to build archival collections that: 

  1. Reflect the variety, breadth, and depth of the GSD’s disciplines and areas of study. 
  2. Aim to redress structural racism and other systemic inequities, expanding notions of relevance and excellence by centering stories and perspectives of marginalized people, communities, and groups. 
  3. Document design research and practices that have actively transformed the lives of people and communities. 
  4. Document design research and practices that have had a meaningful impact on the natural environment.  
  5. Represent designers whose work has been pivotal in advancing design research and practice.  
  6. Engage students in the development of their future professional lives, and also help them to become responsible global citizens.  
  7. Are actively used in teaching at the GSD. They should be sources of inspiration for our students and faculty.  
  8. Document the academic and cultural life and history of the Graduate School of Design, complementing material collected elsewhere within Harvard as university records. 
  9. Complement and build on the strengths our collection is known for. 

Guidelines for Institutional Borrowing of Materials

To request a loan of materials from Frances Loeb Library Collections, a borrowing institution shall complete the online inquiry form with as many details as possible for requested items. Upon submission of the online loan request, library staff will review the condition and availability of the requested materials before responding to the borrowing institution’s primary contact. The Frances Loeb Library will grant loans from its collections in accordance with Harvard University Library policies. The initial response to the loan request may take up to 3-4 weeks.

If the loan is granted, Loeb Library staff will coordinate logistics and agreements with the borrower, including framing, shipping and insurance, all to be finalized in a loan agreement. The general loan agreement outlines the loan conditions, including requirements for insurance, facilities and condition reports, storage and shipping, security, photography and reproduction permissions, installation and exhibition. The borrowing institution will be responsible for all costs pertaining to preparation and exhibition of the items on loan.

Initial loan requests should ideally be made at least twelve months in advance of the loan period. All requests will be considered but may be declined dependent on suitability of materials to be loaned and the lead time for the loan.

Complete the initial request form to borrow from Collections held within the Frances Loeb Library.