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Harvard College Library




Changes in research, teaching, and learning, along with ever-changing developments in technology, continue to prompt the Harvard College Library to find innovative ways to update many programs and services. The current budget constraints, coupled with a smaller workforce, provided added impetus for exploring how to meet our users' changing needs with fewer resources. Public services, access services, technical services, and conservation services were identified as areas where a realignment of resources might prove beneficial. The Library began an exploration of the possibilities of an HCL-wide approach to these functions that would build on librarians' roles and promote staff expertise, create greater efficiencies, and, most importantly, better serve today's faculty and students. This planning aligns with the Provost's call to "streamline library infrastructure in order to improve services and maximize the resources available to its users."

As a first step, HCL Research, Teaching, and Learning Services, all units in Lamont, and the Widener Research Services and Access Services were reorganized to form four new units:

  • Access Services, which is responsible for connecting users to library materials and resources in Widener and Lamont libraries. The unit is composed of three divisions: Collection Management, Reader Services, and Resource Sharing.

  • Reference Services and Learning Technology (RSLT), which is responsible for coordinating reference services across Widener and Lamont libraries; managing HCL virtual reference initiatives; and facilitating staff training and support in using technology to design, develop, and assess online learning tools. All RSLT staff provide research and instructional services to students, faculty, and visiting scholars.

  • Maps, Media, Data, and Government Information, which unites several divisions into a single unit with the expertise to connect users with the collections in a variety of ways. Working as an integrated team, staff help students and researchers use data and media in all formats, including printed maps, geospatial data, census and environmental data, images, and music. The unit also collaborates closely with the Services for Academic Programs unit to provide services to faculty.

  • Services for Academic Programs (SAP), which has HCL-wide responsibility for supporting FAS academic programs with library services. SAP fosters ongoing HCL teaching and outreach programs in collaboration with other HCL libraries. In conjunction with other Harvard libraries, it develops, delivers, and assesses new programs and services that support student learning and faculty teaching across the University. SAP collaborates on teaching and learning programs with the Freshman Dean's Office, Advising Programs Office, Freshman Seminars program, Writing Program, Program in General Education, Bok Center, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Grossman Library in the Division of Continuing Education.

Staff continued to provide core services within their old reporting structures throughout the fall, while participating in planning sessions with their new teams. The reorganization of Widener and Lamont public services took effect in January 2010.

With the reorganization of Widener and Lamont, there will no longer be a music librarian to head the former Morse Music and Media unit in Lamont. The declining circulation activity surfaced the question of relocating the materials to the Loeb Music Library. Aligning with efforts in HCL to operate in a more streamlined and integrated way, Lamont and Loeb Music staff collaborated on a proposal to transfer Lamont's music scores to Loeb Music. The relocation project is scheduled for summer 2010. Scores are no longer being purchased for Lamont and several small funds belonging to Morse Music were transferred to Loeb Music.

A renewed strategic focus on the reorganization of HCL Technical Services (HCLTS) began in FY 2009 and included extensive and thorough planning, discussion, training, documentation, and communication throughout the year. It culminated in the launch of a new departmental structure in May 2010 that puts the Library in a better position to provide a simpler and quicker means of access to materials; increased access to hidden collections; and metadata in a variety of schemas for print and non-print materials.

The new HCLTS consists of three units:

  • Monographs, which is composed of three sub-units responsible for user services and direct access processing, acquisitions and copy cataloging, and metadata and cataloging.

  • Electronic Resources, Serials, and Government Documents, which is composed of two teams, Acquisitions and Cataloging. They work collaboratively to order, receive, pay, and catalog electronic resources, serials, volumes received on monographic series standing orders, and government documents in all languages.

  • Administrative and Technology Support Team, which is the locus of coordination for department-wide administrative and technology support.

As part of the reorganization of Widener Access Services, the technical services function from the Widener Serials Services unit was moved to HCLTS. The Fine Arts Library Technical Services unit was integrated into HCLTS when the Library's other units relocated to the Littauer and Sackler buildings.

With the new organization in place, it becomes possible to envision the benefits of further centralization of administrative functions and technical services staff from across HCL into the 625 Massachusetts Avenue operation. Exploration of this possibility is under way.

In FY 2010, the Conservation Services group located in Widener Library assumed responsibility for the preservation review, conservation treatment, binding, and shelf preparation of materials from Fine Arts and Lamont libraries, and worked strategically to incorporate affected workflows and personnel into its existing program. The Collections conservators also assumed responsibility for the supervision and training of conservation technicians at Cabot and Tozzer libraries, centralizing administration and expanding impact of conservation services to HCL locations in the North Campus. Binding and Shelf Preparation expanded its services to include the Slavic and Middle Eastern divisions' HD materials and contributed to the final reduction of the Materials Management backlog.

This past year HCL has been engaged in the process launched by Dean of Science Jeremy Bloxham in April 2009 to examine the organizational structure of the science libraries in FAS. As a result of the planning, three science libraries were to transfer administratively to HCL beginning in FY 2010: Birkhoff Mathematics Library, the Physics Research Library, and the Chemical and Chemical Biology Library. Staff members in the transferred libraries were introduced to new practices around accounting and budgeting, collection development, acquisitions, and cataloging, as well as new supervisors and staff across HCL. Transfer of other FAS science libraries was put on hold due to changing priorities and Harvard-wide planning efforts by the Provost.

Although it was not part of a reorganization, the Fine Arts Library relocation provided impetus to realign responsibilities and workflows in its two locations. Each new or refined routine had at its heart the goal of re-orienting patrons to the new spaces and reestablishing the coherence of onsite collections and services for optimal access.