Circulation Area & Stacks (First Floor)

Circulation Desk & Stacks Entrance

The Circulation area in Widener is where your student can come to pick up and check out books they’ve requested. The desk is staffed whenever the library is open. This is also where you find the entrance to the Widener stacks.

Borrowing Books

Harvard students are welcome to visit and borrow materials from all of our libraries. There are still more materials in offsite storage facilities: these can be requested online, and are typically delivered within one business day. Circulating materials from any of our libraries can be requested for pick up at any other library.

There is even more for students to discover at specialized libraries, like the Fine Arts Library, Harvard-Yenching Library, and Loeb Music Library. Students also have access to a huge array of online resources, ranging from digitized primary sources to research datasets and scholarly publications.

About the Stacks

  • Senior thesis writers are eligible for a shared carrel in the Widener stacks, which provides them with a quiet study space and dedicated bookshelf.
  • This library contains ten levels of stacks (six above ground, four below ground). When the library was being built, the self-supporting stacks (called the Snead system) were constructed first; the rest of the building was filled in around them. 
  • Widener opened in 1915. By the 1970s, more space was needed, and the neighboring Pusey Library was built and connected by tunnel to Widener Library's stacks on the bottom level of this building.
  • The stacks' 50 miles of browsable shelves hold about half of the Widener Library collection. The rest is stored at the Harvard Depository, a high-density off-site storage facility.


Widener’s underground levels are within the building footprint. Pusey extends north and west of the Widener building, but nowhere near as far as some tours might suggest!