The True University
A History of the Western Washington University Library1899-1998
By Marian Alexander
On April 11, 1984, the University announced the appointment of Diane C. Parker, director of the Science and Engineering Library at the State University of New York at Buffalo, to succeed Dr. Lawyer. Selected following a nationwide search, Mrs. Parker’s academic credentials included a B. A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a M. L. S. from the University of Washington. As director of libraries at WWU, she also assumed responsibility for Educational Media Services, which had been administered by the library since 1970, and the University’s Public Records Center.
Among the difficult issues to immediately confront the new director was the familiar problem of growth space. By 1984/85, the situation had once more become acute. The library’s holdings of nearly 400,000 books together with rapidly growing accumulations of periodicals and government documents badly stressed the building’s capacities. Restraining collection growth was clearly not an option. The comprehensive collection development policy completed under the new director’s leadership in January 1986 identified many areas where more materials were needed to meet the needs of the University’s evolving curriculum and programs.
Various analyses, however, estimated that working capacity (86% full) of the current shelving configuration would be exceeded by mid-1987, based on even comparatively modest collection growth rates. The University’s facilities plan for 1985-91 included the possibility of library storage space in Edens Hall, scheduled for remodeling, but there was little enthusiasm for this in the library. Another alternative was replacement of print journal runs with microform versions in order to increase available shelving. In a special arrangement with University Microfilms, this was briefly tried with specific titles in the sciences, but quickly found to be very unpopular with library users.
On September 3, 1987, the Board of Trustees approved a $527,000 project for capital improvements in the library to alleviate the potential crisis. "High density mobile storage," more commonly called compact shelving, was installed in two basement areas while additional conventional shelving was installed on all other floors. The government documents collections and service area were moved from the east end of the fourth floor to the east end of the first floor, and science and technology reference materials and periodicals were concentrated on the west end of the fourth floor, where a science reference service area was also created. Taken together, these projects provided an estimated five years of growth space.
Pressure on the budget
In the area of budget, the state’s formula-based budget model for providing library resources, in use since 1967, was eliminated in 1982/83. Subsequently, library funding per biennium was provided on the basis of previous biennium’s base budget allocation adjusted for future needs according to various measures. This approach proved problematic due to the many external factors affecting the library’s purchasing power at this time. These included sharp, unpredictable increases in the prices of academic materials and several consecutive years of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates. In addition to these difficulties, a growing percentage of the acquisitions budget (83% in 1985/86) was committed to subscriptions. With probability high that expenditures for subscriptions would soon exceed the entire acquisitions budget, the library in mid-1985 proposed a control mechanism in the form of an acquisitions budget distribution formula based on the work of acquisitions librarian Donna Packer, with contributions by the library faculty, and the faculty senate Library & Media Services Committee.
In September 1986, Vice President/Provost Paul Ford appointed the University-wide Ad Hoc Library Acquisitions Allocation Committee (LAAC) chaired by Graduate Dean Sam Kelly to resolve differing ideas about such a plan and propose a workable model. Provost Ford approved the Committee’s recommendation in March 1987. The plan allocated specific percentages of available acquisitions funds to each of the various disciplines as well as a variable percentage to the library for the purchase of cross-disciplinary resources such as indexes. An ongoing committee, the Library Advisory Committee (LAC), was established to both advise the Provost and director of libraries and monitor and assess the allocation plan.
Faculty issues and opportunities
At the end of 1985, the library faculty was once again presented with an opportunity to resolve many of the issues surrounding their status. This came in the form of an invitation to prepare a governance document for publication in a revised edition of the University’s faculty handbook, to join the existing governance documents representing the faculties of the separate colleges. The last consideration of faculty status issues had taken place more than a decade before, when on February 10, 1972, the University’s faculty council asked Dr. Lawyer "to form a committee of librarians to develop criteria for evaluation of individuals within the library."
The library faculty committee devised a set of standards for the hiring, retention, tenure, and promotion of library faculty complete with titles to complement the suggested ranks. Although in the end the standards were not accepted by the council, all library faculty were assigned appropriate professorial rank as an outcome of the process, and a procedure for peer evaluation was approved. The new governance document developed by the library faculty during 1986-87 detailed ranks, criteria for retention, promotion, and tenure, and re-iterated the peer review procedures developed in 1972. Accepted by the faculty senate in May 1987 and approved by the Board of Trustees on June 1, 1987, it was included in the faculty handbook for the first time with the edition of 1987.
Under Mrs. Parker’s leadership, the library faculty actively sought opportunities to form partnerships with other libraries in the region. The Whatcom County Librarians Group, created in 1984, provided a forum for communication between library professionals in the region. More significantly, the University’s librarians pursued Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) grants to fund cooperative projects enabling local libraries to share information about resources and services. The Whatcom County Union List of Serials, funded by a grant obtained by acquisitions/serials librarian Donna Packer in 1985 was the first-ever joint project involving all the country’s libraries. In 1986, social sciences librarian Raymond G. McInnis received an LSCA grant to support the library’s participation in the Washington State Library’s telefacsimile network, an early effort at electronic resource sharing. In 1990-91, humanities librarian Dal Symes and government documents librarian Robert Lopresti obtained LSCA grants to develop union lists of videos and law materials in Whatcom County libraries.
Other successful grants at this time funded library initiatives in electronic resources assessment and collection development. Online services coordinator Dana Johnson received an LSCA grant in 1987 to test the usefulness of LaserCat, a bibliographic database on CD-ROM, for services such as reference and interlibrary loan. In 1990, acquisitions/serials librarian Donna Packer authored a successful $55,000 U. S. Department of Education grant to support cataloging of the library’s extensive collection of Mongolian language materials, begun in the 1970s with material donated by Dr. Henry Schwarz of the history department. In 1991, the University’s diversity fund subcommittee provided a grant that enabled the library to prepare ethnic studies research guides for student use as well as purchase books and videos for an ongoing diversity materials display collection.
The faculty also moved to recapture lost ground in the area of library instruction. In 1967/68, the library science program originally developed by the library was transferred to the education department. By the late 1980s, the program offered only one elective library instruction course, Library Science 125--Library Orientation, which was no longer taught by librarians. In 1987, the library faculty formed a bibliographic instruction committee charged with assessing the need and likely content for an elective credit course offered by the library. Following in-depth studies of student needs, faculty expectations, and curriculum models, the committee developed a two-credit, 200-level, elective course. Approved by the University’s academic coordinating commission in March 1991, and offered for the first time during summer quarter 1991, Library 201--Introduction to Library Strategies, was the first credit course to be provided directly by the library since 1959.
The automation imperative
The single most pressing challenge for the library in the mid-1980s was responding to the growing imperative to more fully automate operations and services. Although in 1986, the University’s long range plan emphasized the need for the library to be "continuously improved" in part by the "incorporation of new storage and retrieval technology," no actual plans, proposals, or funds had directly addressed this goal. At this time, the library’s only fully computerized operation was the still functional but increasingly fragile IBM-based, 80-column punched-card circulation system implemented in 1967 and last upgraded in 1979/80.
Working with the University’s Computer Center in the late 1970s, the library had partially computerized additional functions in key support areas. A computer-based fiscal control system for subscriptions and an online library accounting system, both designed at this time by associate director for technical services Dan Mather, provided up-to-date information essential for budgeting. Some book ordering was completed using an electronic system provided in 1977/78 by the library’s major book vendor, Blackwell North America (successor to the Richard Abel Company). In 1979/80, the Computer Center was able to use the abbreviated data maintained by the IBM-based circulation system to produce a microfiche list of library holdings in accession and call number sequence, and a program had been implemented to gather information on items that did not circulate.
In the area of reference services, education librarian Enid Haag and science librarian Kathy Haselbauer offered searching of such large databases as Dialog and BRS using a Texas Instruments "silent 700" terminal. Office personnel and social sciences librarian Raymond G. McInnis ventured into word processing using a Tarbell console. In 1984, head of cataloging Marian Alexander directed the transition from largely manual cataloging processes to automated processes using the RLIN (Research Library Information Network) online bibliographic utility. Information about materials added to Western’s collections after 1984 was available online to RLIN participants around the world. But the bibliographic records for material acquired before this time remained inaccessible by electronic means. Moreover, the main mechanism for accessing the library’s holding continued to be the card catalogs in Wilson Library and the Music Library.
Starting in 1986, Mrs. Parker launched an aggressive effort to address the library’s inadequacies in the area of automation. Dana Johnson, the library’s first online services-electronic resources specialist, joined the faculty that year and directed a systematic assessment of online system development requirements, costs, and potential vendors. This effort led to a request in March 1988 for funding to purchase hardware, software, and services for the implementation of a fully integrated "library information system" or "LIS." Despite strong support from the University administration, the legislature did not approve funding for the project in the 1989/91 biennial budget. New urgency, however, was added to the search for an integrated system solution when the University’s Systems and Computing division announced plans to phase out equipment supporting the IBM circulation system. After working closely with consultant Joseph Ford to clarify needs and costs, the library submitted a second funding proposal in May 1990. In August, the proposal was supported by a feasibility study prepared by Dr. Mel Davidson, Director of Systems and Computing.
On November 1, 1990, the state’s Department of Information Services recommended approval of funding for Western’s library information system, noting that the University had "identified the acquisition of an automated library information system (LIS) as an important business objective for the next biennium." Funding for the project was approved for the 1991/93 biennium and in April and September 1991, the library prepared revised cost projections in preparation for proceeding with the project. Soon, however, it became necessary for the University to use the LIS allocation to meet the overall reductions called for by the state in the institution’s 1991/93 budget.
Despite this setback, institutional support remained strong, and in the Strategic Action Guidelines approved by the Board of Trustees on December 6, 1991, the University reaffirmed its commitment to automating the library. Early the following year, with the support of President Kenneth P. Mortimer, who had assumed the leadership in June 1988 following the tragic death of President Ross, Provost Roland L. DeLorme announced that the effort was back on track. "Despite the necessity of using state appropriated dollars, which had been earmarked for a Library Information System, to meet the expected cut," he wrote on January 17, 1992, "I have found and set aside one-time-only dollars to replace those funds. The Library Information System project will begin this year."
During 1992, the Provost’s Library Resources Advisory Committee reviewed priorities and evaluated options with the assistance of Rob McGee of RMG Consultants, a nationally known library automation consultant. In September, the Committee completed a five-year automation plan for information resources. RMG Consultants was then engaged to assist the library in developing and evaluating proposals for the services and products needed to implement a fully integrated library system. Starting in 1993, a massive retrospective conversion effort created electronic catalog records to replace card catalog entries, while periodical titles in the collections were cataloged for the first time, supported by a $94,000 Library Services and Construction Act grant obtained by head of cataloging Karen Rice.
Also in 1993, the search began for an integrated library system vendor, culminating in the selection of Innovative Interfaces, Inc., in mid-1994. Following signing of the contract in August, the library worked with Innovative and Library Technologies, Inc., to complete processing of electronic catalog records for its collection of nearly 500,000 titles. At the same time, essential upgrading of the library’s electrical and telecommunications infrastructure began. The Library Information System Steering Committee, consisting of Vice Provost for Information & Telecommunications Jerry Boles, special assistant to the President/Provost John Havland, and selected library personnel managed the budgeting and implementation of the project.
While work on the library information system proceeded, other electronic resources projects were also underway. In 1992, the government documents division made government information received on CD-ROM disks available on its "Docbase" system, created by government documents Librarian Robert Lopresti assisted by online services coordinator Peter Smith. In mid-1988, the library had installed multiple computers to access the CD-ROM version of InfoTrac, the Information Access Company’s computerized periodical indexing service, and in 1989, the education library introduced the ERIC database on CD-ROM. In 1993, Provost DeLorme allocated special funds to the library for automation projects. This permitted installation of a Local Area Network (LAN) in the main reference area offering multiple-user access to a number of databases on CD-ROM. In the technical support area, the library implemented a stand-alone REMO serials control system in 1990/91, followed in 1992 by a LAN-based MATSS acquisitions system.
Re-making space and looking for more
Major facilities upgrade projects also occupied the library at this time. During the spring and summer of 1991, an asbestos removal and renovation project in the Music Library resulted in expanded space for offices, storage, and collections. Wilson Library too was identified as a priority for asbestos abatement during a campus-wide building survey conducted in November. Of primary concern was the commonly used asbestos-based "popcorn" type surfacing applied to ceilings during the construction of the Thiry Addition in 1961/62. In August 1992, the University received state funding for the Wilson Library asbestos abatement and electrical upgrade project, which began in June 1993.
By this time, the library’s holdings had grown to include nearly 600,000 volumes of books and periodicals, about half a million government publications, large collections of microforms and other non-book materials, and a growing array of electronic resources. Typically, academic libraries required new facilities every fifteen years when most reached maximum working capacity for storing materials, Mrs. Parker reported to the Campus Master Planning Committee on October 24, 1990. "Wilson Library," she noted, "reached this point in 1987, right on schedule," following the 1972 addition. In addition to limited capacity for more collection growth, the library was able to provide seating for only 14% of the current enrollment, far short of the national standard of 25%. "There are many hours when the library is congested to the point where students find seating for themselves on the floor," she observed.
The most obvious option for library expansion at this time was Haggard Hall, home of science departments since its construction in 1958/59. The Paul Thiry-designed building immediately south of the library was scheduled to be vacated following completion in the mid-1990s of three new science facilities at the south edge of the campus core. With the operational life of the library building clearly coming to an end, the University began to include library space in preliminary planning concepts for the renovation of Haggard Hall. Planning funds were obtained in the 1991/93 biennial budget and the architectural firm of McLellan & Copenhagen retained in early 1992 to prepare a pre-design report.
From the outset, the University envisioned Haggard Hall as a shared facility housing several programs, services, and general university classrooms. The pre-design report of July 1, 1992, placed expansion space for the library on only the first floor of Haggard Hall and suggested an underground link with the existing library building’s basement level to facilitate library operations. A budget evaluation study team (BEST) value engineering study conducted in October by the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) suggested that library expansion could be accommodated in Haggard Hall without the inter-building link. Meanwhile, detailed studies prepared primarily by library administrative staff member Rick Osen showed that limiting library space to the first floor would provide only a few years of growth space while a primary goal of the project was to provide twenty years of growth space for the library. .
The University obtained design funds in its 1993/95 biennial budget and in August 1993, retained library building consultant Philip Leighton. In October, the Board of Trustees awarded the architectural contract for the project to the Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF), the Seattle-based firm which had designed the University’s new biology and science education facilities. In January 1994, Philip Leighton recommended that the library’s current and future space needs would best be met by the upper two floors of Haggard Hall, plus an element physically connecting the two buildings. In re-evaluating the project, the University concurred that the library should be allocated more area in Haggard Hall and in August 1994, requested this revision of its plan, along with increased funding to accomplish it.
A second facilities project related to the library was also underway at this time. Following state approval in 1989, a new northwest regional building for the Washington State Archives was constructed at the south edge of Western’s campus. The University secured space in the new building for the rapidly expanding University Archives and Records Center, housed for years in the nearly commissary building. Established in 1974 as a support service for campus offices, The Records Center reported to the library director who, in a joint role as public records officer, directed the management of the University’s records according to state statutes. The new facility, also home to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, was dedicated on August 5, 1993, as the Goltz-Murray building, in honor of former campus planning officer and state legislator H. A. "Barney" Goltz and longtime Western history professor Keith A. Murray.
Cooperating, budgeting, organizing, communicating
The early 1990s were also important years for the library in terms of re-establishing a presence in statewide cooperative initiatives. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the library had contributed information about its holdings to the joint regional card catalog maintained by the Pacific Northwest Bibliographic Center (PNBC), housed at the University of Washington. In the days preceding online catalogs, PNBC served as a clearinghouse for resource sharing transactions between its members. But the emerging online bibliographic databases, particularly Ohio-based OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) and RLIN (Research Library Information Network) at the national level, and the Washington Library Network (later known officially as "WLN") at the regional level rapidly supplanted services such as PNBC by making their participants’ holdings information available electronically.
As the result of several cost analyses in the 1970s and 1980s, the library had elected not to join the Washington Library Network despite considerable pressure to do so during the time that WLN was a state-supported agency. RLIN, the bibliographic database it did join in 1984, was national in scope but included very few libraries in the Northwest. The continuing lack of an online catalog at a time when other academic libraries in the region were rapidly automating further contributed to the library’s electronic isolation.
By late 1992, however, the development of Western’s library information system was at last underway. Also, since 1987 the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) had strongly favored the funding of resource sharing efforts rather than local collection building as a way to curtail state expenditure on libraries. At the Inter-Institutional Meeting on Academic Information Resources, held at the University on November 2, 1992, Western’s Provost Roland H. DeLorme proposed the development of an up-to-date model for cooperation between the state’s six public higher education institutions. The goal was to enhance resource sharing through effective exploitation of the new information technologies.
The Inter-institutional Committee of Chief Librarians (ICCL) of the public higher education libraries incorporated this concept into its Strategic Plan for Cooperative Library Resources and Services 1993-1997, developed the following year. In November 1993, the Inter-institutional Committee of Chief Academic Officers (ICAO), chaired by Provost DeLorme, endorsed the ICCL plan. Provost DeLorme was instrumental in persuading the Council of Presidents (COP) of the six institutions to adopt the plan, which came to be called the Cooperative Library Project (CLP), as a priority for its upcoming legislative agenda. In mid-1994, with COP assistance, Mrs. Parker and her fellow directors began preparing a request for funding from the upcoming 1995 state supplemental budget.
Also in 1992, Inter-institutional Committee of Chief Librarians (ICCL) agreed to implement reciprocal borrowing privileges to support distance education initiatives. Under the terms of the agreement signed on June 5, 1992, students enrolled in the off-campus programs of any of the six participating institutions became eligible to borrow materials at all six libraries. An ICCL Reciprocal Borrowing Card was created and distributed to off-campus program students for use starting in 1992/93.
Locally, acquisitions funding continued to be a source of concern. Not surprisingly, the 1987 acquisitions allocation plan developed by the Provost’s Library Acquisitions Advisory Committee (LAAC) had not proved a complete solution, especially in the face of rising materials costs and inflation. The University had periodically been able to provide library resource inflation costs not funded in base budget allocations as well as special funds for targeted areas of the collection. In 1993, for instance, a special allocation of $25,000 purchased critically needed monographs in the humanities and social sciences. The most intractable problem confronting the ongoing Library Advisory Committee (LAC), however, continued to be the high percentage of the acquisitions budget, now annually exceeding $1 million, committed to subscriptions.
In March 1992, Provost DeLorme had advised LAC’s chair of his desire to re-establish "a linkage with the faculty governance structure" for the purpose of managing both acquisitions resources and "policy issues as they relate to the library system." The revival in 1993 of a library committee of the faculty senate seemed to offer this possibility. After receiving LAC’s suggested revisions to the 1987 allocation plan in mid-1994, Provost DeLorme disbanded the committee amid expectation that the new Faculty Senate Library Committee might assume its advisory and monitoring role.
As the University welcomed Dr. Karen W. Morse as its twelfth president in 1993, the library concluded a number of administrative changes begun early in the decade. Starting in 1991, the director of libraries was no longer responsible for Media Services following the assignment of this unit to the new office of Vice Provost for Information & Telecommunications. Internally, the library under Mrs. Parker’s direction had become steadily less hierarchical and on August 18, 1992, she implemented a re-organization creating three major operational divisions called access services, reference & instructional services, and technical services.
By 1994, there were about forty permanent library staff and eleven library faculty including the director. At the outset of Mrs. Parker’s tenure in 1984, there were forty-six permanent staff and fourteen faculty. Two faculty positions were lost in the budget reduction of 1991/93, while one was re-allocated to Media Services in 1988 following the incumbent’s retirement. On a more positive note, the library faculty gained representation on the faculty senate and academic coordinating commission, and librarians served regularly on other University committees, task forces, and policy-making groups.
The library also made progress in the area of both internal and external communications. Mrs. Parker had begun a weekly library faculty-staff newsletter/bulletin in 1984, and Imprint: Newsletter of the Western Libraries, edited by head of technical services Marian Alexander was distributed twice-yearly to faculty, administrators, and courtesy/community card holders starting in 1988. In addition, the library faculty published several editions of a comprehensive Library Manual for Faculty starting in 1987.
Although the retirement in 1987 of librarian W. H. O. Scott ended the book-of-the-quarter program he had created after twenty-five years, the library briefly continued a similar effort to promote extracurricular reading. From 1989-1991, the "summer reading program," co-sponsored with Media Services and the Student Co-op Store, annually promoted a selection of six books recommended by selected University faculty members.