Harvard's Library System to be Restructured

The intellectually extraordinary but decentralized system needs administrative, financial, and technological reorganization, according to the Task Force on University Libraries.

The University's sprawling yet intellectually extraordinary library system needs administrative, financial, and technological restructuring, according to an official Task Force on University Libraries. The traditionally decentralized system faces particular challenges in an environment that includes tighter budgets, shifting boundaries among academic disciplines, increased interdisciplinarity, and the destabilizing influence of the digital revolution.

The task force report makes five core recommendations: adoption of a shared administrative structure; improvement to information technology systems; changes to funding models and cost-sharing among the libraries, particularly with respect to offsite storage (45 percent of the collection is held in a depository); enhanced coordination of materials collection and especially access; and increased collaboration with other institutions. The comprehensive report also calls for the immediate formation of an implementation group, whose members were named in an accompanying letter from the task force chair, University provost Steven E. Hyman.

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