Gutman Library at 50 Years

HGSE's Monroe C. Gutman Library opened in 1972. Its construction cost at the time was $3.4 million. In 2022, Gutman Library celebrated its 50th year. The building's principal benefactor, Monroe C. Gutman (Harvard College, 1905), an investment banker, took a deep interest in education. Mr. Gutman also funded a professorship in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard and established the Gutman National Scholarships in Harvard College. Mr. Gutman passed away in 1974. In that same year, the Boston Society of Architects awarded the Benjamin Thompson and Associates architectural design firm the prestigious Harleston Parker Medal.

Education collections had developed continuously from the 17th century until 1972. They were shelved originally in Gore Hall before it was demolished to make way for the much larger and celebrated Widener Library, which was dedicated in 1915. With the opening of Gutman, many but not all of Harvard's education collections were brought together at HGSE. To this day, Widener, Schlesinger, the University Archives, Lamont, and other libraries and repositories at Harvard contain education-related materials.

Gutman Library is the first library building built by the School since its founding in 1920. There had been a small working collection in Lawrence Hall, HGSE's main building until it established its current campus and moved to Longfellow Hall, which HGSE began inhabiting after its purchase from Radcliffe College in 1961 and the post-renovation re-opening in 1963. Lawrence Hall burned down in 1970, and its former location is the site of the Science Center, which coincidentally is a brutalist, concrete structure finished a year after Gutman Library's opening in 1973.

The 1972 design featured four levels of library and technology services. The interior design originated with bright, bold features to contrast with the outside formidable concrete. Over the next 30 years, this design was muted until 2012, when pastel purples and greens became the color scheme. The library opened with a unique placement of faculty and professional education offices housed on the fourth floor. As automation took hold of many functions, less space became necessary to store physical journals and e-books and e-journals allowed for space to be used differently: academic technology needs developed on the third floor with HGSE IT offices, instructional design facilities, multipurpose classrooms, and an A/V recording studio established. The Gutman Conference Center was developed on the ground level, where former space had been allocated for multimedia and curriculum materials housing. The curriculum materials coalesced into the Jeanne Chall Reading Lab that was established in Larsen Hall.

A 2000 renovation allowed for the Special Collections to be re-housed from the third floor to the ground level into a dynamic, temperature-controlled facility with compact shelving. In 2012, library services were moved from the first floor and centralized on the second floor. The first floor now houses the wildly popular Gutman Commons Cafe, the Gutman Gallery, collaborative study areas, and exhibition space. The first floor saw the addition of the Office of Student Affairs, which added to the centrality of Gutman Library as the HGSE campus hub. The second floor took on the core library services spaces and offices such as the library's Circulation Desk, librarian consultation & collections management offices, print books, the main quiet study reading room, and the Writing Center & Communication Lab.

2013 to present
In 2018, the ground level was re-purposed to create a larger and more modern Gutman Conference Center, which hosts library instruction, School-wide events, professional education programming, and HGSE courses. A new events and catering kitchen was added as were additional gender neutral restrooms. The Special Collections were moved offsite to the Harvard Depository and a new Special Collections vault and Reading Room were planned for the second floor (established in 2023).

From 2018-2024, Gutman Library experienced continuous design planning and renovation. The third floor saw the addition of the Cheng Yu Tung Education Innovation Studio, which is a makerspace used for the Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology Program curriculum. More study space and seating were added to the third floor as was a renovated and more accessible HGSE Information Technology Help Desk. During the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the delightful fourth floor rooftop patio was refurbished, and a new central study and convening space was created adding additional seating to the library.

In August 2023, the second floor's $15 million, multi-year renovation was completed. With this investment, the HGSE senior leadership brought together many student-facing services in a centralized model named "the Center for Community Learning." The hope is to be able to provide high touch, concierge-like service to our students so that they can make the most of our expert team members who work collaboratively in closer proximity to one another. These teams include the Library staff, the Office of Student Affairs, the Career Center and Alumni Engagement offices, and Academic Programs staff who administer the master's and doctoral programs. In 2024, the Gutman Library's top-to-bottom renovation was completed, and the 1st floor welcomed the relocation of the Admissions and Financial Aid offices from Longfellow Hall. Libraries are ever-evolving spaces. It's an exciting time collectively to support the evolving needs of higher education, our students, and colleagues who are learning how to change the world while in residence or virtually.

Timeline of Gutman Library Leaders
1972-1974 (acting); 1974-1978: Paul Perry
1978-1985: Dr. Inabeth Miller
1985-2013: Dr. John Collins, III
2013 (interim): Marcella Flaherty
2014-2016: Dr. Susan Fliss
2016-2017 (interim triumverate): Marcella Flaherty, Deborah Garson, Rebecca Martin
2017-present: Dr. Alex Hodges

HGSE's Emeriti Librarians
2024: Carol Kentner; Carla Lillvik
2020: Kathleen Donovan; Marcella Flaherty; Karen Young
2018: Deborah Garson
2013: Dr. John Collins, III
2007: Patrice Moskow