Loan Policy


Loans to Recognized Institutions

Requests for loans will be considered from recognized botanical institutions and not from individuals. Requests are screened by the Curatorial and Research Associate, and/or the managers and curators. Our policy, in general, follows the Report of the Committee for Recommendations in Desirable Procedures in Herbarium Practice and Ethics, II (Brittonia 25: 307-310, 1973). Loans are not made for the purpose of providing material for routine identifications, nor for the capture of label data. Label data for a limited number of specimens will be provided gratis. Large amounts of label data can be provided on an at-cost basis, usually through the employment of student assistants.

Loans are made without charge or service fee; it is expected that the borrowing institution will pay the costs of return shipment.

Loan requests

Researchers requesting to borrow material should have a letter sent from their Curator or Director to the Curatorial and Research Associate, Harvard University Herbaria. The request should include: 1) the name and status of the researcher (student, staff member, visiting scientist, etc.); the nature and scope of the study; 3) the taxa requested, including possible synonyms; 4) the basionyms (including authors) for any type specimens being requested; and 5) the geographic scope of specimens desired, if appropriate.

Loan conditions

Loans are made for a period of one year; if further time is required, an extension may be requested from the Curatorial and Research Associate. Receipt of the material should be acknowledged by the borrowing institution; any discrepancies in count or pertinent notes on the condition of the loan should be included on the acknowledgement form. An information sheet, Loans from the Harvard University Herbaria, is sent with every loan; curators are asked to give it to the researcher upon receipt of the material. It includes information on the use of specimens, type specimens, annotations, herbarium citations, and general loan conditions. Materials for palynological, anatomical or molecular studies must not be removed from herbarium specimens without obtaining prior permission. Researchers with requests for any destructive sampling of herbarium specimens should obtain a Destructive Sampling Policy Authorization Form (PDF) prior to their study.

Loan returns

Material to be returned should be packed well to insure safe transit, i.e., well wrapped in secure bundles, the bundles interleaved with corrugated cardboard to reinforce the sides of the box. A shipping notice should be included with each returned loan. Partial returns are encouraged only when a significant portion of the loan can be returned; returns of less than 10% of the total are discouraged.

Loan transfers

Transfers may be made only with the prior written consent of Harvard Herbaria; they are made only to recognized institutions and not to individuals. Permission for transfer is made on a case-by-case basis.


Copies of publications based upon our collections are requested; reprints should be addressed to the Curatorial and Research Associate.

Questions or comments can be emailed to the curatorial staff at