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HARVARD IS OFFERING a voluntary early-retirement package to 275 of 930 current full-time employees of the Harvard Library as part of a strategic reorganization of the library. The package is open to employees 55 or older who have worked for the libraries for at least 10 years.

In a statement, the University said:

[T]he new Harvard Library improves a fragmented system by promoting University-wide collaboration. It will enable Harvard to invest in innovation and collections, make decisions strategically, reduce duplication of effort, and leverage the University’s buying power. As Harvard works to respond to the evolving expectations of the 21st century researcher, University leaders have been acutely aware of the needs of Library staff who support the University’s mission every day. With this in mind, the University is implementing a generous, voluntary early retirement program that will both offer incentives to qualifying employees who wish to retire and help the Library meet the needs of its new organization.

In a series of town-hall-style meetings with library employees on January 19, Harvard Library executive director Helen Shenton had identified one of those reorganization needs as “a Library workforce…smaller than it is now.”

Employees who accept the offer will receive six months pay plus two additional weeks of pay for every year of service beyond 10 years, said a University spokesperson. They will continue to be eligible to participate in the shared-cost healthcare benefits program offered to Harvard employees up until the age of 65, and will have full access to their pension like any other retiree, a University spokesperson said. They will also have a one-time option to enroll in Harvard’s retiree dental program. Eligible employees have until the end of March to respond.

Library staff members have staged protests since the January mention of staffing reductions, including the possibility of layoffs. This past Sunday, in an ongoing protest, members of Occupy Harvard began an intended week-long sit-in in Lamont Library Café.