Students Demand No Layoffs at Harvard Libraries!
  • Petitioned Helen Shenton

This petition was delivered to:

Harvard University Library Executive Director
Helen Shenton
Harvard University President
Drew Faust
Harvard University Executive Vice President
Katie Lapp

Students Demand No Layoffs at Harvard Libraries!

    1. Sandra K
    2. Petition by

      Sandra K

      Basking Ridge, NJ

The Harvard University Library Executive Director Helen Shenton just announced a plan to restructure the Harvard library system and make it more "efficient."

She plans to fund this by laying off some workers and restructuring the jobs of others. She threatened to cut jobs by “voluntary and involuntary means,” leaving library workers anxious by refusing to provide details about the plan and recommending that they upload their resumes online.

Unemployment rates are still at record highs, making it nearly impossible to find new jobs, especially for older workers. At the same time, Harvard’s endowment just jumped 21% to $32 billion.

Harvard's libraries are not overstaffed: in fact, they're still recovering from staff cuts three years ago. Our university has the money to keep all of its workers employed.

A petition started by a library worker notes that “college and university librarians and library workers contribute to the advancement of scholarship of the academic community.”

As members of the Harvard community, we care both about the academic quality of our libraries and the ethical quality of our university. Thus, we demand that Harvard not lay off library workers while it has the money to keep them and that any restructuring of the librariestake place with consideration for the workers who staff them.

We students, faculty, and staff join Harvard library workers in demanding: NO LAYOFFS AT HARVARD LIBRARIES.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Yelizaveta Strakhov PHILADELPHIA, PA
      • over 2 years ago

      My mother is a Harvard library worker. She was laid off after 21 years of service from one Harvard library two years ago and was thankfully rehired by another. But now they're doing another round of lay-offs. My father has a serious medical condition and can't work. Harvard libraries need their workers. These are people with Ph D's, MA's and MLS's. They are not expendable. They are Harvard's lifeblood.

    • Anna Warrock SOMERVILLE, MA
      • over 2 years ago

      As a writer and editor, I know the value of a fully staffed library. Digital libraries are like a laundry list; librarians are the mechanics who know how to run the washing machine. Don't trade intellects for computer chips. Harvard should be the champion of the mind.

    • Philip Gerstein CAMBRIDGE, MA
      • over 2 years ago

      It is high time for Harvard Corporation to change its attitude towards HUMAN resources that have been entrusted to them.

    • Gay Seidman MADISON, WI
      • over 2 years ago

      Alumna (class of '78) and former member of the Board of Overseers. Harvard's endowment is quite big enough to retain staff -- laying people off in the midst of the worst recession in 60 years seems truly heartless, and unnecessary.

    • Justin Reed WATERTOWN, MA
      • over 2 years ago

      Libraries desperately need technological updates, but we are not desperate enough to trade people's meals and rent for our comfort and efficiency. Harvard can find another way.


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