New Library Organization Launches

The large number of early retirements has minimized layoffs.

Loker Reading Room in Widener Library

The new, leaner Harvard Library organization began operations on August 1. In January, protests had followed a town-hall meeting at which library workers learned of the possibility of an unspecified number of layoffs and internal job reassignments as part of the reorganization. Students later staged a sit-in at Lamont. In the end, library administrators announced, six staff members lost their jobs, while 65 opted to accept an early retirement package (almost a quarter of the 280 eligible individuals—those 55 or older with at least 10 years of Harvard service).

Those changes may be largely invisible to library users, unlike the new online Harvard Library portal—designed to improve access to information—that will launch in late August. Announced by Provost Alan Garber in a letter marking the transition to the new organizational structure, the portal is just one of numerous innovations under discussion, Garber reported. While noting that “change in any organization of this size and complexity is inherently difficult,” the provost expressed confidence that “the remarkable strengths of our libraries, and particularly the people who bring them to life, will allow us to build a Harvard Library that will set the standard now and in the future.”

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