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Note from Sarah Thomas: Affinity Group Heads

August 30, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the Affinity Groups. The five Affinity Groups were established to foster synergy and collaboration across member libraries within and across the Affinity Groups, with particular focus on Collections Development, Research and Teaching Support, and Innovation. They have also functioned as the Executive Team for the Executive Director. Affinity Group heads were appointed in February 2012. Originally, the Harvard Library had planned to review the Affinity Group structure after 18 months, but this assessment has been delayed because of the recent transition in leadership. I have now begun that review, meeting first with the Affinity Group heads to get their input on the experience to date. Next week it will be on the agenda for the Library Leadership Team. I expect we will use a combination of discussion groups and a survey to gather feedback on the role of the Affinity Groups in the Harvard Library, on their composition, and on their leadership. Are their groupings by type of library the right ones? Should there be overlap in participation in Affinity Groups by libraries? Should the leadership rotate, and if so, what should the terms be? What strategic issues should be addressed? I will be asking a subgroup of the Library Leadership Team to design a survey and flesh out the process for evaluation with a goal of completing the review later this semester.

In the meantime, I have extended the appointments of Lynne Schmelz (Affinity Group 2—Physical and Life Science Libraries), Ann Whiteside (Affinity Group 4—Fine Arts Libraries), and Megan Sniffin-Marinoff (Affinity Group 5—Archives and Special Collections) through December 2013. Affinity Group 1—Professional School Libraries, in accordance with its charter, has rotated its leadership, with Leslie Donnell transferring her lead role to Suzanne Wones. Doug Gragg has stepped down as lead for Affinity Group 3—Humanities and Social Science Libraries, and I will be meeting with Doug and Dan Hazen next week to discuss this group and consider measures for interim leadership. 

A major accomplishment of the Affinity Groups over the past year has been the review and analysis of national and international trends and best practices in collections and content development. An iterative series of discussions led to the final report: Towards a Collections and Content Development Strategic Plan for the Harvard Library. This report was endorsed by the Library Board in July. The Affinity Groups will next focus on the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

I look forward to getting your feedback on the Affinity Groups through the discussions and survey we will be putting together in the next few weeks.

Kind regards,