January 19th, 2012

Of Anxiety and Reorgs – Harvard Libraries Today

Earlier today while telecommuting as Seattle shut down, I saw information about town hall meetings at Harvard libraries not going well per a Twitter hashtag (#hlth) where the conversation is ongoing and likely will for a while. Last Friday morning edit – a transcript of what was said is now available. Wow. Just… wow.

A good blog summary of what appeared to happen today can be found at What’s happening at Harvard? by Feral Librarian.

I completely empathize. We’ve been through very ugly times at the University of Washington Libraries and town hall meetings are part of how information about repeated State budget cuts has been shared with staff since 2009. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed or will enjoy future sessions but I always appreciate them. These are not pleasant financial times we are living in yet at each session we always had as clear of an idea of what cuts were going to be from staff positions and what reorganizations and library closures were going to happen as our Dean had at the time.

We never had what appears to be a truly phenomenal amount of staff uncertainty about their jobs or what will happen next as a result of one day of town hall meetings about a reorganization process that, according to Harvard Libraries’ own documentation, has been going on since 2009 and is supposed to be 90% complete right now. Friday morning edit – a reflective entry by a Harvard librarian who was there acknowledges both the gut tweet reaction (very normal) and still reflects the uncertainty about jobs and what’s happening next.

At one point today this reorganization information was easily accessible and linked off the Harvard Libraries Transition Website. Since the proverbial stuff has hit the fan, the easily accessible links off the website have disappeared but (as of 8pm Pacific time Thursday) some links for more context have not and there are screenshots and links below.

Edit: As of 3am Pacific time Friday (don’t ask), the link to Change Management and Career Development is back to being public information and appears to have additional workshop sessions for February, but the FAQ is not back to public information.




As After Furor, Harvard Library Spokesperson Says ‘Inaccurate’ That All Staff Have To Apply notes, other information that was previously public on the Harvard transition website today is now staff-only including FAQ and Change Management and Career Development, the latter showed mostly already full sessions for staff about CV development and identifying strengths.

If people are supposed to be the most valuable asset in an organization, the communication process to ‘share information that will assist Library staff with the change‘ did not reflect that at all today. It is always the responsibility of an organization’s leadership to clearly communicate exactly what change is happening in the first place. If that didn’t happen, how are the staff possibly being assisted?

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