About Harvard Library

The Harvard Library advances scholarship and teaching by committing itself to the creation, application, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge.

As the largest library system in the U.S., comprised of 33 libraries and numerous sub-libraries and departments, The Harvard Library is much more than volumes of books. It houses centuries of learning, history, and information, and is dedicated to its mission. Serving as an information and support hub, the Library connects users to related disciplines and to University-wide teaching resources. The Harvard Library provides the University's faculty, students, and researchers—now and in the future—with comprehensive access to these materials.

Harvard Library home page

Challenge

The digital landscape has changed users’ expectations of their libraries. People want to find the same delight and intrigue digitally that they once found, physically exploring shelves. After building a series of digital properties with different people through separate projects, Havard Library felt it needed to inspire delight and intrigue again by unifying its web presence and creating a seamless experience for users where they could smoothly move between platforms.

This project addressed one of the Harvard Library’s primary goals for its website, library.harvard.edu, which was to promote a culture of use, by providing resources to technologically-savvy students and researchers. 

Approach

Velir used Agile methodology from design through UX, front-end, and back-end development along with insights from workshops about High-Performance teams and the Stanford Design Feedback process to create a state-of-the-art, modern, comprehensive library experience for students, faculty, and researchers at Harvard, as well as the larger community.

Harvard Library website menu navigation, accessibility

The digital platform features numerous custom solutions. Space Finder (modeled after Cambridge UK library’s version) is an easy-to-use tool for students and researchers to find study spaces based on a wide variety of criteria like “type of seating” to “how busy”. Another unique feature built into the solution is being able to search the entire library system to determine which locations are open at a certain hour so that all results display side-by-side.

In addition, by utilizing an iterative design process, we enabled the Harvard Library team to launch a beta version of the new site to collect valuable feedback from prospective users, which allowed us to create a more user-centric site. We also provided the team with our processes, workflows, and insights to enable further design changes as the site evolves.

Solution

The Results

  • A more robust search experience powered by Solr (which includes search results from Hollis+ as well)
  • The Space Finder tool to find study spaces based on a wide variety of criteria
  • Story-driven pages
  • Audience-driven information architecture
  • Brand messaging articulated throughout the site