May 16, 2022

Harvard Library VP Sarah Thomas Reflects on First Year at University, Looks Ahead to Upcoming Year in Note to Harvard Colleagues

Harvard Library VP Sarah Thomas reflects on her first year in Cambridge and also looks ahead to the upcoming academic year in a “note” that was shared earlier this week with Harvard colleagues and also made publicly available on the Harvard Library web site.

Here are a few passages from the note that runs about 1200 words:

As the Harvard Library enters the third year of existence, and I nudge up against my one-year anniversary, I’ve been taking stock of where we are organizationally and looking ahead to what the coming year will bring. In general, it seems that we have made significant progress. At the June 2nd Library Leadership Team retreat, we identified 10 key priorities to pursue in FY15, and we are moving forward on these. Most notably, the implementation of HOLLIS+ is advancing steadily. The team managing engagement, led by Lisa Junghahn, has done an outstanding job of preparing us for the change, and our users should benefit significantly from the improvements, including easier access to journal articles and special collections. We’ve had valuable input from all quarters of the library to shape our plans.


We want to be one Harvard Library, with shared goals and with all of us working together to achieve results which will be beneficial for our scholars, researchers, and students. Of course there will be times when a library will optimize to serve a particular user base or to focus on a school’s priority which is not a priority at the university level. But just as research libraries around the US and the world work together to share collections, develop standards to integrate metadata and contribute to common repositories, the libraries of Harvard work together to strengthen our collective enterprise.


We are very much intertwined, and changes in one functional area have an impact on others. For example, organizational changes underway in the Harvard College Library in Collection Development will result in a new Western Languages Division, which joins staff members together in a single unit. This amalgamated group will strengthen our collections support for users as we explore new approaches to e-resources and focus more heavily on primary sources and distinctive collections. These initiatives will in turn become possible because the new structure allows us to take full advantage of workflow efficiencies with high-volume vendors, and expand and deepen our cross-unit collections. A high proportion of the library’s material budget is allocated to the Western Languages Division, and the evolving profile of acquisitions will inevitably affect Information and Technical Services and Research, Teaching and Learning initiatives.


…we are adding new roles such as assessment librarian, bibliographer for social sciences and quantitative data, online learning librarian, multimodal learning librarian and learning technologies librarian.

You can read the full text of the note Sarah Thomas wrote and posted earlier this week by clicking here.

See Also: Harvard Magazine Publishes Interview with the New Vice President for the Harvard University Library, Sarah Thomas (September 20, 2013)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.