HCL Restricts Fung Library Circulation

Harvard College Library, whose administrators have spoken of the need to make organizational changes and "rebuild" after last month's staff reductions, has announced a series of minor service changes in the past few weeks affecting the Fung, Pusey, and Fine Arts Libraries.

The Fung Library—which houses collections for the Weatherhead Center, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the Documentation Center for Contemporary Japan, and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies—has restricted circulation of its collection materials to in-house use only, as of July 14. The library will no longer be a delivery point for Harvard Depository materials owned by other libraries as of July 7, and materials from other libraries cannot be called to Fung either.

Furthermore, Fung will no longer provide course reserve materials beginning in the fall. Those materials will now be provided at Lamont Library instead.

"These were budget-driven changes," said HCL spokeswoman Beth S. Brainard in an interview with The Crimson, adding that by outsourcing course reserve preparation duties to Lamont and restricting circulation, Fung would be able to reduce expenditures but maintain core services. "[The collections] are not circulating because there is a cost associated with circulation that we cannot afford to support any longer, but the collections are still there."

Harvard College Library, a division of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that administers Widener, Lamont, and Cabot Science Libraries among others, recently eliminated over 20 staff positions as part of the University-wide layoffs. HCL had implemented a variety of cost-cutting measures earlier this year as well, eliminating duplicate print subscriptions for digitally available content, centralizing technical services, and streamlining staff duties.

Nevertheless, Brainard said that HCL is "spread very thinly right now" in terms of its budget—although she could not provide specific figures—and that administrators must "figure out how to support all the things we support at the College library with less money."

William C. Kirby, former dean of FAS and now director of the Fairbank Center, wrote in an e-mailed statement that while the changes in circulation at Fung are of lesser importance, "much more worrisome is the diminution of [HCL's] services, capacity, and commitment" to the Fung Library's distinctive collections. And Wilt L. Idema, chair of the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, expressed concerns about the effect of budget pressures on HCL's ability to provide services, support research, purchase increasingly expensive academic materials, and expand and maintain collections.

"A library is not a dead thing," Idema said. "A library has to continuously grow. If it does not have last five years of scholarship, what do you have? You have a museum."

But Brainard said that "HCL cares very much about the needs of faculty and students across all disciplines, including Fung," and that administrators were "working as hard as possible to support all the libraries to stretch our resources, our collections, and our services to meet the whole range of academic needs."

The Fine Arts Library (FAL) has also moved to a new location—the Sackler Museum lower level is housing the Digital Images and Slides Collection, while a space in the Littauer building is housing the library's printed collections, administration, and reference and research services. Brainard said that these changes were not budget-related but rather the result of renovations taking place at the Harvard Art Museum, where the Library had previously been located. She said HCL did take the opportunity to examine the Fine Arts collections during the move, and while the size of the collections is unaffected, the location of some materials—whether on campus or in the Harvard Depository—may have changed.

Brainard called FAL's relocation a "temporary" move, but said that it would likely remain in Littauer for the next eight to ten years. She said that she did yet know where FAL would be moved afterwards, but that it is unlikely it will return to the Harvard Art Museum.

HCL also announced earlier this week that the main entrance to the Pusey Library would be closed at the end of July, and that patrons could access the Harvard University Archives, the Harvard Map Collection, and the Harvard Theatre Collection staff offices via Lamont Library's main entrance instead. The announcement said that closing Pusey's door would help avoid security, custodial, and utility expenditures that could be redirected to other library programs and services instead.

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at