Harvard University officials announced last week plans to reduce the size of its 930-person library workforce, which resulted in protests by staff.
Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 and Executive Vice President Katherine N. Lapp are currently reviewing “aspects of organizational design” as part of the University’s restructuring of its library system, according to a statement from a University spokesperson.
The Library Transition iSite said that the Harvard Library Board would review a plan created by the library’s leaders before making a recommendation to University President Drew G. Faust on how to conduct the reorganization of the library.
The board met to review a plan last week, and University officials declined to state whether it approved a plan at that time.
Library officials had previously held a town hall meeting for library employees in which they said that their restructuring plan would reduce the size of the library staff.
The announcement prompted anxiety amongst library employees from across the University, who called for Harvard to release more details.
In response to the University’s lack of disclosure to the library workers, staff picketed outside of a meeting for library staff members last Wednesday. Another protest is planned for next week.
While some chose not to protest actively, the feeling of being left in the dark remained for many.
“The communication has been pretty lousy. There have been very few details coming out about the transition,” said a librarian at Harvard Law School, who, like all librarians interviewed for this story, asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.
He added, “People are fearful of losing their jobs. The only solid information that came out of the town hall is that there would be reductions of staff.”
Other librarians echoed his concern.
“We haven’t heard anything either. Nothing,” said a librarian at Harvard Kennedy School.
Some said that although it might seem unreasonable to panic before the University releases any concrete information about the scope of the staff reduction, the administration’s silence is at the root of the problem.
“I think that a lot of people are reacting to the fact that we don’t know a lot about what’s going on yet,” said a librarian at the Radcliffe Institute. She added that only once the University provides more information will staff be able to “react in a reasonable manner.”
The University has said it will provide more information on staff reductions in February.
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.