January 26, 2022

Helen Shenton is Leaving Her Executive Director Position at Harvard Library

The following is the full text of a Letter to the Harvard Community by Provost Alan Garber:

Dear Members of the Harvard Library Community,

I write to announce that Helen Shenton has decided to move on from the role of executive director of the Harvard Library in August 2013.

Since her recruitment to Harvard in 2010 from the British Library, Helen has played a key role in steering the Harvard Library through a complex and challenging transition, working to bring together more than 70 libraries across two campuses and ten schools in a new governance, funding and organizational model. Helen created a multi-disciplinary senior team, recruiting members from major institutions across the US. Together, they designed and created new services in Access Services, Information and Technical Services, Preservation, Conservation and Digital Imaging that took effect on August 1, 2012, when about half the 900+ strong library staff moved into the new organization. Most recently, Helen steered the foundational Collection and Content Development Strategy with the affinity group heads through to approval by the Harvard Library Board.

Helen is a conscientious leader whose skill in building a strong team has been key to the success of the library project. Her work ethic, focus on the future needs of the University, resilience and, above all, personal integrity have served Harvard well.

In recent conversations, Helen noted, “I’m enormously proud of everything we’ve achieved at the Harvard Library. I’m especially proud of how staff across the Harvard Library have risen to the challenges and how many have stepped up to positively embrace the changes underway, which are in response to the radical global shifts in information, research, education and technology.”

“I have seen the Harvard Library through the early days of the Transition phase and through this first, full year of implementation. After the very heavy lifting of last year, the services are up and running, the new portal is flourishing and many new initiatives are underway. Given that this is a multi-phase, multi-year project, it feels like a good time to move on. I look forward very much to using the experience and expertise gained from the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library and Harvard in other capacities across the broad cultural and information sectors. I wish everyone in the Harvard Library every success in the next phases of this extraordinary evolution.”

Library staff members and Sarah Thomas, incoming vice president for the Harvard Library, will build on Helen’s efforts as we continue to respond to the evolving expectations of the 21st century scholar. Staff members supervised by the executive director will report to the vice president.

Helen has generously agreed to serve in an advisory capacity through the fall. Please join me in thanking Helen for her commitment to a project of extraordinary scale and complexity.


Alan M. Garber
Harvard University

Library Board Names Executive Director (December 20, 2010 via Harvard Gazette)
A report about Shenton taking executive director position at Harvard Library.

See Also: HUL Names Deputy Director (Harvard Gazette, December 19, 2009)
Shenton comes to Harvard Library from British Library

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.