February 16, 2018

Layoffs at Harvard? Skidding Economy Could Claim Books, Jobs

By Andrew Albanese

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  • Endowment losses cause cuts
  • Library to see budget shrink ten to 15 percent
  • Materials, jobs both on the line

(This article appeared in the February 26 issue of the LJ Academic Newswire.)

In a chilling harbinger of things to come in this economic downturn, an article in the Harvard Crimson this week indicated that layoffs were likely at the Harvard College Library (HCL), along with other belt-tightening measures.
 
HCL spokesperson Beth Brainard confirmed for the LJ Academic Newswire that the nation’s wealthiest university, in an attempt to reduce its budget for next year by some $12 million, will realign services  to streamline its operations, and will likely face staff cuts this spring. The Crimson reported the talk of job cuts comes after Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith requested “10 to 15 percent reductions in department and center budgets for the fiscal year beginning in July.”

In addition to streamlined operations, the Crimson reported that budget cuts will also mean the elimination of print subscriptions for online materials, fewer copies of books, and “reductions in binding, shelving, and storage” of materials. “A simple solution is not in front of us,” Cline told reporters. “[Layoffs are] the very last thing we would like to do, but there seems to be no other way to achieve the budget savings we must reach.” 

Brainard told the Newswire that the cut is directly associated with the staggering loss of 30 percent of Harvard’s endowment. “Half of the library’s budget is funded by the endowment,” she noted.  

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