Professor A. Abbott Ikeler, Harvard College class of 1965 and a retired English professor recently wrote to President Drew Faust to express concern for the libraries and the workers who make the Harvard libraries flourish. Continuing the pattern of silence and obstruction, Professor Ikeler’s thoughtful letter received no more than a dismissive form-letter response that directed him to Faust’s evasive email on the subject of library restructuring. Members of Occupy Harvard began contacting alumni during the occupation of Lamont Cafe, and Professor Ikeler’s letter is just a particularly powerful and telling example of how the University’s plans have ignored students, faculty, workers and concerned alumni. The letters are available after the jump…
Professor Ikeler’s Letter:
Dear President Faust,
As a Class of ’65 Harvard College graduate and a retired English professor, I take a keen interest in the humane functioning of the university’s library system. It is, so I was told as an entering freshman, the soul of the university, the repository of whatever wisdom the academy possesses. That being the case, it follows that those who maintain and refresh its treasures, those who enable the scholarly and critical work that goes on within its walls, are equally vital to the institution’s moral and intellectual health. I’ve personally been helped many times by the knowledgeable and patient staff of Widener and other facilities to advance my own research.
Unfortunately, the “shared services” layoff plans currently proposed for Harvard’s library workers suggest a very different attitude toward those who guard the university’s greatest wealth. To dismiss outright, rather than retain and if necessary retrain, numbers of long-serving, hard-working library employees strikes me as an exercise perhaps worthy of a jumped-up, for-profit organization–certainly not worthy of America’s foremost university.
I hope you and the relevant decision-makers who report to you will reconsider the proposals now on the table, and instead sustain the full community of loyal library employees who have so well and for so long served Harvard students, faculty, and alumni.
A. Abbott Ikeler ’65, Ph.D.
President Faust’s Response:
Dear Professor Ikeler,
Thank you for your email regarding the Harvard University Library. I very much agree that the Library is a most valuable resource to the University, and I recently shared my thoughts on that theme in a letter to the Harvard community. It has been posted online here: http://www.harvard.edu/president/reflections-on-future-harvard-library.
I appreciate your taking the time to share your perspective.