Faust and Garber Send Community Messages on Library Restructuring

Top administrators still steer away from discussing layoffs

After weeks of silence from top administrators about their plans to restructure the University’s library system, University President Drew G. Faust and Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 sent emails to the Harvard community that provided some details on future plans but left questions on staff reorganization unanswered.

While Faust and Garber specified initiatives the University would pursue, such as greater partnerships with peer universities, they largely avoided the question of staff reductions.

“Our goal is not only to equal the best that’s out there, but to move beyond and indeed be the flagship research library for the 21st century,” Garber told The Crimson on Friday.

In his email, Garber listed plans that included mobile checkout and self-checkout systems and improved collection development.

Aside from efforts to adapt to a digital age, the library restructuring will aim to unify Harvard’s 73 currently independent libraries. Under the new system, libraries across the University’s schools will be lumped into five “affinity groups,” each of which will represent a different academic sector. Each library will maintain a relationship with its associated school as well.


University administrators have said that the library transition will require reorganization of library staff. But despite calls from staff members to clarify the details of the intended reorganization, Faust and Garber largely steered clear of the issue in their emails.

“We recognize that members of the talented Library staff are anxious to see how the transition will affect them as individuals, and we are confident that our new strategic direction will ultimately produce gratifying new responsibilities and career development opportunities,” Garber wrote.

Garber acknowledged in his Friday interview with The Crimson that there would be a “shift in staff,” but he declined to comment directly on the potential for staff reductions.

Harvard University Library Executive Director Helen Shenton previously said at a town hall meeting with library employees that “the Library workforce will be smaller than it is now.”

According to Garber, the University will release more details to staff on the future of their positions over the next two weeks.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at