Some Library Workers Choose Early Retirement

Sixty-five Harvard University Library employees have accepted early retirement packages as part of the Library’s Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program, according to a University spokesperson.

In January, Harvard University Library Executive Director Helen Shenton said that the University would seek to reduce the size of its library staff as part of its ongoing library reorganization.

The University has yet to specify its goal for staff reductions.

VERIP offered library employees who are 55 years and older with 10 years of service under their belts a chance to receive benefits and avoid possible layoffs.

Approximately 23 percent of the 280 eligible employees accepted the offer. There are currently 930 full-time employees in the University library system.

Those who accepted the offer will receive six months’ pay, plus two additional weeks’ pay for every year of employment beyond 10 years. An employee cannot receive more than one year’s worth of salary under the package.

A University spokesperson declined Thursday to specify whether or not the Harvard University Library will layoff employees in its attempt to cut down its staff size.

Senior Associate Provost for the Harvard Library Mary Lee Kennedy and Shenton praised the departing library staff members in a statement sent to library employees on Tuesday.

“The 65 staff members who will be leaving us are dedicated members of a workforce that supports Harvard’s mission every day. We wish them well as they begin a new phase of life, whether that means starting a new job or planning for retirement,” Shenton and Kennedy wrote.

Administrators have drawn criticism during the transition process for a lack of transparency and a failure of communication. Kennedy and Shenton sought to address these concerns in their statement to staff.

“It is not easy to adapt to working without valued colleagues and familiar faces by our sides,” they wrote. “Please know that as we work through the library transition, we will make every effort to support and keep open the lines of communication with our staff, whose dedication and hard work make Harvard great.”

Shenton and Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at jworland@college.harvard.edu.

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