Harvard Library Reorganization and Fallout

A couple of weeks ago the academic library blog and twittersphere was ablaze reacting to a tweet that “[a]ll of Harvard library staff have just effectively been fired”. As more news came out of a January 19 Harvard town hall meeting it appears that the reorganization at Harvard will not be that extreme – but these will be very challenging times for the Harvard library. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice short piece on this situation here. The text of the presentation that sparked the reaction is here. More news is expected next month.

An obvious question is what this type of restructuring may mean for other academic libraries. My gut sense is that Harvard is so big and so different than most academic libraries that their issues are not the same as most. Were many academic law libraries inspired to follow John Palfrey’s approach to restructuring at the HLS library? Academic libraries (not to mention private law libraries) have been quite nimble in facing (and leading) the challenges of the digital age. Perhaps the Harvard situation is more of an example of how much more challenging it is to change the direction of a huge ship than a smaller one.

In any case it will be interesting to see how this proceeds and its impact on libraries and research.

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