Space is at a premium in research libraries everywhere, and the Harvard College Library (HCL) is no exception to the rule. Space issues in the HCL's 85-year-old Widener Library were already under careful consideration when the Library administration was offered the opportunity to lease a site in nearby Central Square. The Library administrationunder pressure to reallocate space within Widener in order to meet code regulations associated with the Widener Stacks Renovation projectaccepted the offer well in advance of any firm relocation plans. According to Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian for Harvard College, "With the very limited availability of appropriate rental space near Harvard Yard and with the suitability of this property at Central Square, we felt it was in the best interest of the Library to move forward."
Over the past several years, the groups involved in space planning for Widenerthe Widener Stacks Renovation Planning Committee, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Library Committee, and the HCL Widener Stacks Renovation work groupshad already identified Technical Services as the strongest candidates for relocation. Already hampered by serious space and workflow constraints, the department was scheduled to lose additional workspace in order for the building to meet code requirements.
Therefore, on December 4, approximately 80 HCL employees from Widener Technical Services units moved to a newly renovated, 25,000-square-foot facility located at 625 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square. The new unit is officially named Harvard College Library Technical Services.
"We were aware that we needed to provide expanded and appropriate space for Technical Services staff in order to maintain and enhance operations," stated Jeffrey Horrell, Associate Librarian for Collections in the College Library, who led the relocation project. Ultimately, Ordering and Receiving, all of Cataloging Services, and part of End Processing operations were selected to move to the new location. "The rationale for this decision," Horrell says, "was based on the need to keep the acquisition and receiving functions united in one location for workflow and ergonomic considerations; on the Library's commitment to the broader role of the Widener bibliographers; and on the goal of realizing the plans for future use of space in Widener Library for collections and related user services."
With relocation came the opportunity and the necessity for reorganizationand for restructured leadership.
A Workflow Design Implementation Team and the Language Divisions worked throughout the spring and summer on workflow issues at the new facility. At the same time, four groups appointed by the HCL Joint Council, studied safety and security, transportation, flexibility and flextime, and workplace issues. These groups evolved respectively from the Workflow Design Task Force and the HCL Joint Council Technical Services Work Group. The HCL Standing Committee on Ergonomics Issues and Policies and the HCL Staff and Organizational Development Steering Committee also contributed to the planning for the new unit.
Nancy M. Cline said, "When we decided to lease the space, we were aware that there would be many complexities to address with such a change, but it provided a needed solution to the immediate space shortage and opened up possibilities for future changes in the Library's services. One of the hardest issues for everyone has been accepting the fact that Widener has run out of spacenot only for books, but now also for library staff. Breaking up Widener's staff and moving people to a new location is very difficult, particularly for those who are relocating. I am grateful for the many staff who have worked on the transition. Their knowledge of the work operations, their creative suggestions, and their commitment to maintaining service for the Library's users have been exceptionally valuable."