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Mike Olson and Resource Access

Posted on: Monday, February 23, 2015 - 1:21pm

Topic(s): Feature Story, Resources

It's no secret, especially among Western Washington University faculty, that access to academic resources is critical to the university's ongoing excellence. In a time when budgets are tight and costs are increasing, it's especially important to find other ways to ensure academic work can continue unabated. That's one reason that Western Libraries recently hired Mike Olson to be director of Scholarly Resources and Collection Services.


In the new position, Olson oversees scholarly communications and leads and administers collection development and services at Western Libraries. Providing leadership for the selection and management of collections, he also coordinates the development and promotion of sustainable models of scholarly communication by working closely with library leadership, staff and external stakeholders to advance other digital initiatives.


History Professor Amanda Eurich, who served on the search committee that recommended Olson’s hire, said she was struck by his experience and his qualifications.


"Mike was on the top of my list when I received the applicant files because of the years of experience he had in collection development," she said. "But even more importantly, he is a committed scholar, engaged in the process of research and writing. Because of this, I felt that he would truly understand faculty investment in library resources."


As an academic librarian at a number of institutions, including both Harvard University and UCLA, Olson has been actively involved with scholarly communication and resource access for more than 25 years. Additionally, because he is also an accomplished scholar, he personally understands the importance of securing access to materials that support writing and research needs.


"I know firsthand the user’s joy and exhilaration when academic libraries get it right, and the pain and frustration when they don’t," Olson said. "I think Western Libraries does so many things right, and we want to improve whenever we can."


The cost of journal and database subscriptions rise about 4 to 6 percent each year, and the budget allocated to pay for them can't keep up.


But by negotiating better subscription terms, favoring open access models of scholarly communication and regularly reviewing and adjusting current subscriptions lists, there are things the Libraries can do institutionally to strengthen purchasing power and provide greater access to resources, Olson said.


“The acquisitions budget has always been a big problem, especially for people in fields like history, who rely heavily on the library for their research," said History Professor Peter Diehl. "There are journals that are needed, especially those in other languages, which get cut because of a lack of funds. The cost of academic monographs keeps going up but the budget to acquire them does not.”


Eurich agreed. While being a member of a consortium such as the Orbis Cascade Alliance has many benefits, she said, sometimes faculty and students just need to grab a book right away.


“You could say the library is our lab,” she said. “It is still important to have works on the shelf. We consider ourselves a writing-intensive discipline. Our students are conversant with Summit, but they still sometimes need immediate access to books and other resources.”


In addition to his experience and expertise, Olson’s personality and open communication style lend themselves well to facing the challenges that lie ahead. Diehl, who has a friendship with Olson dating back to when they first met as graduate students at UCLA over 30 years ago, spoke highly of Olson’s excellent interpersonal skills.


“He works so well with other people, and that’s a real asset. He has successful experience, both with collection development and with people,” Diehl said. “And, on a personal note, he gives me someone to watch football games with!”


Olson explained that he has a personal interest in sports, movies, and music.


“I’m curious about many other things as well, so that has been useful in my career as a collection development librarian, and when talking with people in higher education. As a native Seattleite and an alum of the University of Washington, I really feel right at home here at Western,” said Olson.


Olson emphasized that he is always pleased to meet with faculty to discuss the Libraries’ scholarly resources, and that he wants to encourage anyone interested in these issues to contact him. He intends to spend the upcoming year meeting with faculty independently and in small groups to learn more about how they currently use the Libraries’ resources, and their needs and priorities for the future. These meetings will feed directly into the creation of a “Resource Access Plan,” which will be fully developed this time next year. In looking forward, Olson spoke about the importance of increasing access to information by finding ways to remove barriers to content and scholarship.


“I want to enable Western’s students, faculty, staff, and administrators to work more effectively. Also, I want to ensure that our library resources are highly useful and highly-used. I really have one goal, and everything else fits within it: to collaborate campus-wide on rational and transparent ways to provide access to scholarly resources for the Western community,” said Olson.


Mike Olson can be contacted by phone (360) 650-4320 or via email

Western CEDAR’s Global Impact

Posted on: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 1:18pm


Did you know that publications from WWU’s faculty, staff, and students, including Western’s Masters Thesis Collection, are being downloaded by people from all over the world? Western CEDAR brings together articles, conference papers, presentations, and book publications, making them accessible to readers who come from locations both near and far to us here in Bellingham. Western CEDAR’s website now includes a dynamic map that shows activity beginning with the previous days’ downloads before switching to real-time activity, so you can see for yourself the global impact of the work we are doing here at Western.

Western CEDAR, part of an innovative global movement promoting open access to scholarship and creative works, is a service of Western Libraries, in partnership with the Graduate School, Office of the Provost, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. CEDAR advances Western Washington University’s commitment to enriching academic inquiry and strengthening communities by sharing the expertise and creativity of its students, faculty, and staff.

Sustainability in the Library

Posted on: Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 11:15am

Topic(s): Feature Story, Updates

On February 5th, the Tutoring Center and the Map Collection, both housed in Wilson Library, were awarded "Sustainable Office Certification." The Sustainable Office Certification program is offered through Western's Office of Sustainability, and participation in the program creates opportunities for departments and offices here at Western to protect the environment, conserve resources, and promote safety and health through the measurement and recognition of sustainable practices that are adopted in the workplace. 

The Map Collection was first inspired to pursue Sustainable Office Certification after both Western Libraries Circulation Services and the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) achieved certification. The recent certification of both the Tutoring Center and the Map Collection has subsequently inspired other Learning Commons partners and library departments to also consider participating in this program. 

"I would love it if we could take a look at certification for all of the areas of the library and Learning Commons in both Wilson Library and Haggard Hall. It would be great if we could come together and do this in a unified way, and perhaps even become a model for other buildings on campus to work towards," said Map Collection Manager, Dennis Matthews.

There are resources and toolkits available online through the Office of Sustainability for anyone who is interested in participating in this program. Matthews explained that the certification process is very straightforward, and that the checklist helps participants become more aware of easily-adoptable small actions which turn into natural habits.

In using the checklist, Map Collection staff were able to recognize sustainable practices they had already adopted, as well as identify new practices that could easily be implemented.

"There were some things already done for us, like the lights in the Map Collection already being connected to motion sensors, but there were other things we realized we could implement easily, like printing double-sided, turning off our monitors, little things like that. Carol Berry in the Office of Sustainability was really helpful, as were the TLA students who also advised us," stated Matthews.

Other operational practices in the Map Collection include recycling, using compostable materials, and "up-cycling" maps that would otherwise have been discarded. Maps that are not needed in the Map Collection are first offered to other libraries located both regionally and globally, and then leftover maps are given away to the public. Students at Western have been particularly innovative with these maps, using them for decoration, wrapping paper, and even art projects. Several years ago, a student and artist named Emma Nestvold transformed some of these maps into beautiful works of art that were on display in one of the library art galleries.

While there are a number of benefits to participating in the Sustainable Office Certification Program, one of the positive outcomes that many people may not expect is that participation in the program can also help instill a sense of meaning, purpose, and connection in the everyday actions and routines that make up our daily work-lives.

"When you participate in this program, you not only become more aware of your environment, but also of how your actions affect and connect you to others. It helps you build a sense of community because you feel like you are working towards something a little bit bigger than yourself," stated Matthews.

To learn more about the Sustainable Office Certification Program, see: To learn more about the Map Collection, see the Map Collection library guide, and don't miss the upcoming Open House Event on Wednesday, February 18th from 2 to 4pm in the Map Collection, Wilson Library 170!

New Titles List!

Posted on: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 11:58am

Topic(s): Resources, Updates

Every month, hundreds of new titles are added to the Western Libraries’ collections. There are new books, CDs, scores, videos, maps, lots of online content, and more. Most are purchased because a faculty member or student has requested them. But how can you keep track of what new resources have been added?

Announcing the New Titles Lists! You can now review the Libraries’ lists of new resources. The lists are created once a month, so reviewing them doesn’t take much time. And the lists are sorted by Library of Congress call number, so all the resources in a given discipline are easily findable in each list. Don’t know what the Library of Congress call number is for the topics you’re interested in? Check here!

We know you’re busy, so sign up to have an email reminder sent to you whenever a new set of lists becomes available. The New Titles web page is located at <>. We are currently creating six lists each month – one each for newly acquired Books, Videos, CDs, Scores, Maps and Electronic Resources. Good luck with your teaching and research, and we welcome your feedback!

OneSearch Beta Interface

Posted on: Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 2:10pm

Topic(s): Updates

The OneSearch Management Team at Western Libraries is actively seeking faculty, staff, and student feedback on a beta OneSearch interface, which was created in response to feedback gathered throughout the last eighteen months.

This beta interface aims to streamline search experiences and to improve the general usability of OneSearch.


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