HARVARD LIBRARY: 1960s-2010s

Founded in 1638, the Harvard Library (HL) is the oldest university library in the United States. As of October 2010, the system consisted of (1) Harvard University Library (HUL), which is primarily managed by university professors; (2) Harvard College Library (HCL), which is primarily managed by librarians; and (3) other libraries and reading rooms. The total number of libraries included in the system was as high as 90. Decentralised libraries had also been integrated into the Harvard Library (‘Harvard University Library,’ 1973). The vast majority of the system is constituted by the HUL and HCL. Consequently, this book focuses primarily on these two library systems. Concerning the buildings and the organisation thereof, the HCL houses the Widener Library, which is the central library of the university. The focus of this research is on this library, as it is the largest in scale of all the libraries belonging to the HCL and plays a central role in its functioning. Libraries other than the HUL and HCL will be briefly mentioned when discussing the Harvard Library in its entirety.

The study timeframe for the Harvard Library case study spans from the 1960s to the 2010s. Many libraries were built during the 1960s, but the HL did not implement any significant reforms until the latter half of the 1990s.Table 4.2 provides an overview of the history of the HL.

As there were no significant reforms implemented for the library, the period spanning approximately five decades shows the transition of the

Table 4.1 Research subjects for case analysis

No. Library County

1

Harvard Library

U.S.

2

Princeton University Library

U.S.

3

Yale University Library

U.S.

4

Columbia University Libraries

U.S.

5

Boston Public Library

U.S.

6

New York Public Library

U.S.

7

New York University Libraries

U.S.

8

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

U.S.

9

Rutgers University Libraries

U.S.

10

University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

U.S.

11

University of Arizona Libraries

U.S.

12

Pima County Public Library

U.S.

13

National Diet Library

Japan

14

Tokyo Metropolitan Library

Japan

15

University ofTokyo Library

Japan

Massachusetts

Academic Library

1638

New Jersey

Academic Library

1876

Connecticut

Academic Library

1701

New York

Academic Library

1934 (Butler Library)

Massachusetts

Public Library

1848

New York

Public Library

1895

New York

Academic Library

1973 (Bobst Library)

Massachusetts

Academic Library

1974 (Du Bois Library)

New Jersey

Academic Library

1792

Hawaii

Academic Library

1968 (Hamilton Library)

Arizona

Academic Library

1891

Arizona

Public Library

1883

Tokyo

National Library

1947

Tokyo

Public Library

1908 (Hibiya Library)

Tokyo

Academic Library

1877

Table 4.2 History and overview of the Harvard Library (HL) (since the establishment of Widener Library in the 1910s)

Year Events

1915

Widener Library was founded

1928

Yenching Library was founded

1942

Houghton Library was founded

1949

Lamont Library was founded

1959

Law School Library was founded

1965

The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine was founded

1966

Radcliffe’s Hilles Library was founded

1972

Frances L. Loeb Library in Gund Hall, Gutman Library-Research Centre for Education, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library were founded

1973

Science Centre was founded

1974

Joined RLG (Research Library Group)

1981

Introduced microfiche cataloguing

1985

HOLLIS (OPAC) started

1999

Started renovating Widener Library

2004

Finished renovating Widener Library

2008

Started digitising books with Google

2009

Started restructuring Harvard University Library

2011

Joined Borrow Direct

2012

Finished restructuring Harvard University Library

organisational structure and duties of the Harvard Library (Ruder, 1998; ‘Widener Library History,’ 2012). The specific years included in the analysis were 1960, 1980, 1991, 2001, 2004, 2009 and 2012. The portion of the 1970s where there was almost no change in the structure or management of the library was omitted from the organisational chart. The year of the financial crisis in the United States (2009) was included as a specific turning point relevant to the context. The analyses of 2004 and 2012 reflect the structure of the organisation, following management reforms undertaken in the years preceding and following those dates.

Data was collected through a combination of a document survey and interviews. The data used for analysis primarily consisted of strategic plans, organisational charts, annual reports, library bulletins, directories and position descriptions.

There was a dearth of data available that discussed the management strategy of libraries in the United States. Data about the organisation was primarily written from a managerial perspective. Thus, an organisational chart was reproduced in order to represent the structure of the organisation as closely as possible, and the ‘work description’ was generated using

Table 4.3 Transition in number of libraries and employees for the Harvard Library (HL)

Year

1960

1970

1980

1991

2001

2008

2013

2016

Number of libraries

88

88

99

96

83

83

79

71

Number of employees

630

924

993

1,119

1,264

1,141

922

912

materials such as job titles, extension telephone directories and post descriptions.

Table 4.3 details the transition in the number of libraries and employees of the Harvard Library over time. This was prepared based on the list of libraries and reading rooms of the Harvard Library gathered from telephone directories. An increase in the number of libraries belonging to the Harvard Library occurred between 1960 and 1980, but this number dramatically decreased in 2001. The number of library employees decreased too, after peaking in 2001. This shows that centralisation of the organisation preceded personnel adjustments. It was also clear the organisation underwent a significant change in 2013.

 
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