Organisation and Functions of Harvard Library (2001)

Since 1991, the HL has expanded even further, which has made its organisational structure more complex (see Fig. 4.4). In 2001, the staff was made up of 1,264 people, which was reflective of the general, expanded scale of the library. Large-scale remodelling of the Widener Library began in 1999. The main objective of the remodelling was to improve the storage environment of collections. In the process, the facilities of the library were dramatically improved.

Since the Widener Library was founded in 1915, the library had not undergone any major renovation, so it had become difficult to control the library’s environment. The Widener Library had poor air conditioning and high humidity rates. The lighting and fire extinguishing equipment were also out-dated and had to be replaced (Goins, 1999; Potier, 2004; Ruder, 1998). It was important to repair or improve the facilities of the Widener Library, and these renovations were overseen by a team for designing book storage (Widener Stacks Planning Committee), as well as a team for constructing facilities (Widener Stacks Building Committee).

The organisation of the librarian-centred Widener Library, in particular, become much more complicated in comparison with that of 1991. More specifically, the Collection Development Department became divided into seven sections (originally only two), which were organised according to subject. The Harvard College Library Technical Services was comprised of 14 divisions and managerial positions, which were further divided by function, media and subject. Organisation according to subject was based on language, such as English, French, German, Spanish, etc. In 2001, the number of people employed at the Widener Library was around 360.

Research Services was expanded from a division under the Public Services Department in 1991 into its own department in 2001; it was established to provide services to support the conducting of surveys and research. This department was not organised by subject, but rather it provided general reference services and operated functionally. This was probably due to the fact that the Widener Library is a general library, and many other libraries in the HL system already provided subject-based reference services.

In 2001, the Preservation and Imaging Services Department was added to the Widener Library in order to maintain materials and update them to an electronic data format. The department consisted of divisions that handled materials according to media such as the Imaging Division and Microfilm Laboratory, and according to function such as the Conservation Division or Digital Imaging. It can be seen that digitisation started around

this time. Thus, the organisation of the HL evidently became more intricate in 2001 based on subject, media, and function. The hierarchy of the organisation increased by an additional layer in comparison with the 1960s.

 
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