No one is laid off yet, but the writing is on the wall.
Harvard has the second largest endowment in the world, after the Vatican. Can they really not afford a first-rate library staff?
What’s happening at Harvard? -- Feral Librarian
The twitterspere (at least my corner of it) was all abuzz today about the Harvard Library Town Hall meetings (hashtag #hlth). Harvard Libraries have been in a “transition” for some time now, and it appears that the meetings today were intended to provide library staff with some updated information on the transition. Judging from the tweets, it was not particularly effective — more questions than answers apparently.
I have absolutely no insider knowledge at all, but as far as I can tell from trying to keep up with the tweets all day:
An initial tweet claiming “All of Harvard Library staff have just effectively been fired” was re-tweeted often, as was a Google+ post written by a former Harvard University Library staff member.
Later tweets clarified that no staff were laid off … today. Layoffs are imminent, however, and more details will be available next month.
The layoffs will be in areas that are “Shared Services” — such as technical services, preservation, and access services; not collection development, research librarians, or special collections.
Some jobs will be eliminated, some restructured, some new jobs created.
For restructured and new jobs, internal candidates will be solicited first.
All library staff are being encouraged to fill out employee profiles (with skills, interests and a CV/resume), which will factor into decisions about restructuring (and presumably who stays and who goes, and where the stayers go …). It looks like the deadline for completing profiles is only 1 month away, and workshops on how to do so are already full.
The general sentiment on twitter is that the senior administrators at Harvard Libraries handled this very poorly — that the town hall meetings produced more questions than answers. Rather than serving to keep staff informed, they served primarily to created significant anxiety.
Plenty of folks are worried that as Harvard goes, so go other academic libraries – in other words, if massive layoffs can happen at Harvard (with its huge endowments), then no academic library is safe.