University Will Not Significantly Cut Library Staff

Despite initiatives to centralize its workforce, the Harvard Library System will not be significantly reducing its approximately 930 person staff, according to an emailed announcement from Harvard University Library Executive Director Helen Shenton and Senior Associate Provost for the Harvard Library Mary Lee Kennedy.

“We are pleased to share that, due to the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program and the Schools' careful management of vacancies, nearly all library staff members with roles designated as Harvard Library Shared Services or Support Services will have a position in the new Harvard Library organization,” Shenton and Kennedy wrote.

Shared Services consist of Access Services, Information and Technical Services and Preservation, Conservation and Digital Imaging Services, while Support Services consist of Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Project Management and Communications, according to a university spokesperson.

Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers director Bill Jaeger said that the news was well-received by library workers, who were alarmed by University announcements in January warning there could be potential layoffs.

“Members of our union were really glad to see the tone of the announcement,” Jaeger said.  “A lot of people in our union are seeing this basically as a correction to the stark announcements that were made back in January.”

According to Jaeger, the announcement was received as a confirmation that there would be no mass layoffs.

“It looks to us as though some of the slightly more significant changes are going to be at the middle managerial level, where there might be somewhat fewer middle managers as some of the small and medium sized libraries work together differently and are arranged into clusters,” Jaeger said.

Shenton and Kennedy’s email also explained that new elements of the Library organization would be announced in the near future, noting that Shared Services or Support Services staff members would soon be contacted with information about changes to their occupation.

Jaeger said that the HUCTW was not currently concerned about how this would be handled.

“At this point, it doesn’t feel like we’re going to have our members forced involuntarily into job changes that would cause them problems or that do not interest them.  It seems like a lot’s going to be done by working it out voluntarily,” Jaeger said.

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