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veritasHarvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1335 January 2007
HCL's Rebecca Graham

HCL's Rebecca Graham

Harvard University Library Notes / January 2007 / No. 1335

HCL Pursues Succession Planning—
Graham Appointed Associate Librarian for Administrative Services for Harvard College Library

Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, announced that Rebecca Graham has accepted the position of associate librarian of Harvard College for administrative services effective July 1.

In her new role, Graham will be responsible for finances/budget, human resources, information technology, operations/security, and preservation/conservation programs, including long- and short-range planning for the College Library. Upon her acceptance and until July, Graham has been named associate designate, a first for HCL.

Graham joined HCL in April 2006 as special assistant for strategic initiatives. She has been with Harvard since 2003, most recently as director of library operations at the Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and, in that time, she served on the University Library Council (ULC) and on several of its committees, including the Aleph Steering Committee, the Public Services Committee, the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee, and the Technical Services Productivity Working Group.

At the Harvard Medical School, she participated in Countway's Administrative Council and chaired the collection development sub-committee. Prior to Harvard, Graham headed Library Computing Services and directed the Digital Library Program at Johns Hopkins University, and held both research and administrative positions at the Digital Library Federation. Additionally, she is a member of ARL's 2004-2006 Research Library Leadership Fellows (RLLF), a program designed to develop the leadership skills required for strategically managing large research libraries.

Upon joining the College Library, Graham engaged in a number of projects, including a comprehensive review of research guides and emergency preparedness planning for all units. She was appointed to the ULC's Task Group on Discovery and Metadata, was invited onto the editorial board of the Reference Services Review, and continues to serve on the E-Resource Management analysis working group.

"Given the broad set of issues and challenges facing the College Library, Rebecca's range of experiences will be a welcome addition to the HCL Administration," said Cline. "Upon joining HCL, Rebecca quickly became an indispensable part of the team. She has exhibited a capacity for creative, forward thinking and collaborative effort. She has been willing to engage in complex strategic issues, making significant contributions to the work of the Library. I look forward to her broader involvement in the numerous planning efforts that are under way across HCL."

In her role as associate designate, Graham has begun attending top-level meetings and immersing herself in administrative issues under the guidance of her soon-to-be predecessor, Susan Lee, who will begin transitioning into retirement in July. At that time Lee will become a senior advisor to the Librarian of Harvard College, first in a full-time and then in a part-time capacity before leaving HCL. This arrangement is part of a greater effort to initiate succession planning within HCL to ensure a pool of viable candidates for leadership positions and to give newly appointed leaders the opportunity to become grounded in their responsibilities before fully assuming their positions. Succession planning also encompasses thinking about ways to utilize the knowledge and expertise of experienced library leaders who are ready to move to a different level of involvement within the organization.

"As the world of research libraries becomes more complex, the necessity of cultivating and training a pool of leaders for large, complex libraries like HCL becomes more apparent. With one associate position already open and Susan's pending retirement, we felt the time was right for the Library to begin to pursue a more comprehensive succession-planning strategy," said Cline. "The College Library is doubly fortunate to have had the opportunity to offer Rebecca this type of phased transition and to be able to continue to draw on Susan's expertise once she leaves the associate role. We will continue to think creatively about ways in which the Library might involve senior professionals in transition," said Cline.

As for Graham and Lee, the transition process appears to be a positive one.  "This is an opportunity for me to oversee a smooth handover of the key HCL administrative programs that I have led for over 15 years. I consider myself privileged to be able to continue to participate as a senior advisor in the work of the College Library," said Lee.

Graham added, "As the special assistant for strategic initiatives, I had a broad introduction to HCL, working with all units on a variety of projects, but the opportunity to learn from my predecessor is allowing me to gain detailed and comprehensive exposure to the operational areas for which I will be responsible. As associate designate, I have an entrée into the FAS and University circles where I will be representing the College Library in matters of budget, technology, and physical planning. When I assume the position in July, I will already have developed relationships."

According to Steve Marley, HCL's director of human resource services, his unit has begun to address the issue of succession. First steps include an effort to identify characteristics of effective library leaders. It is hoped that ultimately this will lead to establishing programs aimed at developing future leaders for large research libraries. Additionally, HR is working to "hire strategically," including focusing on internal talent, to hire candidates who possess the skills that are needed at HCL in the years ahead.


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