Gov Docs May Make Way For New Café

Lamont considers moving government records collection to another location

A massive collection of international primary sources will likely move from the first-floor of Lamont Library in order to make room for a café in the popular late-night study spot, library administrators said yesterday.

The possibility of the Government Documents Department’s relocation comes on the heels of a slate of projected social space initiatives, including a permanent Loker Pub.

A café in Lamont will force the relocation or reduction of its collections to make space for the eatery, Harvard College Library (HCL) spokeswoman Beth Brainard said yesterday.

And library administrators yesterday identified the relocation of the Government Documents, commonly known as Gov Docs, to Littauer Library, which now houses government-related collections, as the most sensible move.

“The purpose is to better align the collection and services for the social sciences,” Brainard said.

A Government Documents/Littauer Task Force, comprised of Lamont and HCL staff, will oversee the potential move, she said.

HCL administrators have considered the relocation of Gov Docs for several years, although a majority of its resources have ultimately remained on the bottom level of Lamont.

The collection, which includes international state records, United Nations hearings, and other primary materials, has already seen a portion of its resources relocated to Widener Library.

But library staff say that the move could hurt the department, decentralizing its resources and possibly resulting in a loss of jobs.

“It’ll be a profound disservice to students and the scholarly community,” Geoff Carens, a Help Desk Coordinator at Gov Docs and a representative of the Harvard Union for Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW). “There will be fewer opportunities for students to use the collection and to get expert help to do it.”

Carens said he feared Gov Docs would be split between Littauer Library, Widener Library, and the Harvard Depository, decreasing accessibility to the collection.

Administrators noted that the café’s location was still undecided.

“Where the café ends up is still in question,” said Associate Librarian of Harvard College Marilyn Wood—who will sit on the Lamont Café Committee—yesterday. “It’s possible that collections are realigned within the building....First of all, we have to have space.”

“We really want to return space in Lamont to undergraduate study. The café is one of those things,” Wood added.

In preparation for the café, HCL, along with the Office of the Dean of Harvard College, will form a committee to determine details including food options, hours, and furnishings.

“It’ll be light food—we’re not going to have a grille, we’re expecting it to just be light fare,” Wood said.

The Lamont Café Committee will be chaired by Deputy Dean of the College Patricia O’Brien and Nancy M. Cline, Larsen Librarian of Harvard College. Two undergraduate students to be chosen through the College and the two undergraduate student members from the FAS Standing Committee on the Library will serve on the committee.

Earlier this year, Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 announced a number of planned renovations intended to increase student social space on campus.

But library staff caution that the changes could come at the expense of academic resources.

“It seems like the College is emphasizing facilities more than academic research and resources,” Carens said.

—Staff writer Margaret W. Ho can be reached at