[Editor's note: The comment author below is not John W. Collins III, the Librarian of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.]
[This story has been updated with a link to, and excerpt from, the Library Town Hall Presentation.]
Uncertainty about the status of Harvard Library staff spread across Twitter and other social media sites late Thursday afternoon after a series of Town Hall meetings held earlier in the day on campus to discuss the library’s massive restructuring plan, which was approved in September.
“The nature of academic and research librarianship changed today. Today, all Harvard librarians were essentially given pink slips, asked to participate in a website that has tips on rewriting your resume and changing your career, and also asked to basically re-apply for their jobs,” wrote E. Keathley, who said she has worked for the library system, in a Google+ post.
The meetings also stirred into life a Twitter hashtag, #hlth, that was awash with similar comments.
However, in a statement sent to LJ, Kira Poplowski, the library’s director of communications, took issue with this characterization.
“It is inaccurate to say that all library staff will need to reapply for their positions,” Poplowski said. However, she would not provide any specifics about what the staff were told at the meetings that were led by Mary Lee Kennedy, senior associate provost, and Helen Shenton, executive director.
She did say that text from the presentations would be available online sometime Friday, but details remained very few late Thursday.
[The full text has now been posted here. Key excerpt: "So, all Library staff are invited to state job preferences, to articulate skills and to provide a resume by creating and submitting an Employee Profile. Creating an Employee Profile is voluntary, and we hope to receive as many as possible."]
Earlier, the library transition website had a listing of workshops on resume writing and ways to determine transferable skills, but late Thursday this information had been removed from the site along with a video of the Town Hall meeting (which wasn’t working).
[On Friday, Poplowski said the workshop site was live and "eight of the fourteen workshops are full, and more will be added to the schedule as soon as the details are finalized."]
The full text of Poplowski’s statement:
University leaders embraced a series of recommendations for the future of the Harvard Library system to establish a coordinated management structure and increasingly focus resources on the opportunities presented by new information technology. Ultimately, the University seeks to ensure that the Harvard Library continues to set the standard for research libraries worldwide.
Today, the Harvard Library leadership shared immediate next steps in this transition, which include recommending a new organizational design to the Library Board and senior University administrators. Details about the new Library organization and implementation steps and timetable will be shared at Library-wide staff meetings in February.
The implementation of the restructuring plan, under the direction Kennedy, has been scheduled to begin this month, according to a timeline, with the transition fully completed sometime in 2013.
The restructuring of the system’s 73 libraries has its roots in a November 2009 task force report on university libraries and a work group, headed by Professor David Lamberth, that followed up on the report’s recommendations.
In a letter sent in December 2010, Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman announced plans to better align the library’s structure with the university’s academic priorities, and after the 11-member library board approved the plan this past fall, Provost Alan Garber wrote in a September 28 letter: “I am committed to ensuring that the new Harvard Library will be the flagship research library of the 21st century.”
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