The nature of academic and research librarianship changed today. Today, all Harvard librarians were essentially given pink slips, asked to participate in a website that has tips on rewriting your resume and changing your career, and also asked to basically re-apply for their jobs. You can read updates on twitter at #hlth
Harvard has the second largest endowment in the world, second only to the funds held by the Vatican. If Harvard is unwilling to fund research librarians, you can bet most US libraries will quickly ditch their staff as well. This will impact your health, because it impacts medical research. This will impact the economy, because it will impact engineers needing information access. This will impact all areas of R&D in the United States, because much of the in-depth research assistance to those working on DARPA, NIH, and other government grants is - surprise!! - conducted on behalf of researchers by academic and research librarians.
Full disclosure: I have worked both for Harvard Medical Library and Harvard University Library. In that second position, I helped consolidate the foreign language libraries into the main university library. I'm obviously not against consolidation of information. But my time in the medical library underscored for me how very important librarians are to the research process.
Information neither curates nor organizes itself. I hope that Harvard plans to hire back the majority - if not all - of its librarians, and retrains them for DAM or remote research assistance. Another good idea would be to embed research librarians in individual research projects - effectively assigning a knowledge worker to important projects.
My worst fear is that the finest research library system in the world is being gutted, and that we're all going to suffer for a lack of reference. Harvard needs to issue a press statement NOW about what their master plan might be regarding #hlth . We all deserve to know what's going on - especially those librarians and archivists who have devoted their lives to helping make all of ours better.
UPDATE:@mpeachy8 is live tweeting info given to librarians.