You are here

All-Staff Meeting Summary: Fall 2015

Staff from across the libraries at Harvard gathered on September 30 and October 1 in Beren Hall at Harvard Hillel to hear Sarah Thomas, Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian/Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, discuss the library’s top priorities and projects. As library staff entered the meeting space, they were greeted by a rotating slide show showing all the new library staff members that had joined the organization since the last all-staff meeting in February.

Thomas began the meetings with a recap of the discussions that took place at the multi-year planning retreat at the end of August, wall notes from which are on the Harvard Library governance wiki along with a summary of staff input collected via surveys in July and August 2015. A narrative that weaves together the vision of where the library wants to be in three to five years is currently being drafted. The narrative will connect Harvard Library’s strategic objectives together with the FY16 library priorities, many of which carry through from FY15, and include a new priority: data management. The narrative is for the staff of Harvard Library to review, absorb, and adopt, and also for a range of library stakeholders—both on campus and beyond—to have the opportunity to do the same.

The all-staff meeting discussion included updates on priorities already underway ranging from professional development goals to Harvard Depository scenario-planning, and from space audits to security audits.

Under the banner of professional development, Sarah Thomas shared four foundational goals underpinning the work of the standing committee on professional development:

  1. Creating a culture of learning
  2. Providing patron-centered services
  3. Developing partnerships
  4. Practicing evidence-based decision making

Scenario-planning continues in relation to Harvard Depository and the library’s short-term and long-term options to increase off-campus storage. With advisors, Thomas has been looking at a range of options that would serve as alternatives to building a new module at Harvard Depository in Southborough. A leading candidate for the library’s participation and partnership is the ReCAP facility in New Jersey, which is operating by Columbia University, Princeton University, and the New York Public Library. ReCAP stands for Research Collections and Preservation. This fall, Harvard is examining the option to either lease or buy aisles and space at the ReCAP facility, as long as the integrity of delivery time can be maintained in a manner equivalent to what is possible when requesting materials from Southborough.

A new, yearlong space audit has been launched to review Harvard Library’s nearly one million square feet of physical space, and plans are underway to conduct security audits in three key locations—Houghton, Schlesinger, and the University Archives—with lessons learned from both audits to be applied across all Harvard libraries.

Sarah Thomas encouraged all staff in attendance and participating via WebEx to update their individual directory profiles on the library portal and to read and submit stories to the weekly staff newsletter. The directory and the newsletter were identified as community-building tools made better by staff participation. Further, Sarah encouraged all staff members to take the current one-question survey about the future of the library, a link to which appears in the library staff newsletter.

In the week prior to the all-staff meetings, Thomas shared a review of FY15 accomplishments and a look ahead to FY16 that provided background on her remarks at the all-staff meetings.

Thomas closed the meetings with a brief mention of fundraising efforts taking place on behalf of the library, noting that campaign goals are well-aligned with the library’s overall organizational goals. The messages related to the campaign include connecting scholars to knowledge through building collections, creating the world’s most advanced digital library, developing a team of experts, transforming spaces to foster learning and enhance the Harvard experience, and stewarding resources.

Article published October 07, 2015.