Hope it works, Harvard

The hashtag #hlth kept popping up on Twitter this afternoon. I, along with many others, soon found out this was in reference to a restructuring announcement by the Harvard University Libraries.

Though no one actually lost their job today, layoffs are pretty much imminent. Most staff will have to re-apply for their jobs. As you might imagine, the news was not well received.

If you read the Vision and Overview on the transition site set up by the library, what they have in mind makes sense.

Ultimately, the University seeks to build the hallmark library of the 21st century, a cutting-edge, nimble organization that is collaborative both internally and externally. We want our patrons to be able to find anything at Harvard, whether it’s a book, a digital copy of a journal, or an object in one of our museums. And we want them to be able to access it regardless of their location.

In effect, we did the same thing at my workplace four or five years ago. Whether you want to see textiles, a typewriter, a manuscript collection, or a Connecticut imprint, you head straight to the Research Center and someone will help you. We have done our best to make connections among all of our materials in order to provide the best research experience possible. Additionally, we continue to work on making our resources available online.

It seems that the biggest problem today was that there were many questions, and few answers. In the short run, the announcement was unsettling to current Harvard employees. It had many of us wondering how this will effect both our profession and society.

When it comes to change, I am not generally the most enthusiastic. However, I really hope this works, and without hurting too many people in the process.