The True University
A History of the Western Washington University Library1899-1998
By Marian Alexander
On March 5, 1996, Provost DeLorme announced the appointment of Dr. Judith Segal, director of the Fishburn Library at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, as university librarian and university records officer, effective August 1, 1996. Dr. Segal’s academic credentials included a B. A. from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, a M. A. from Brandeis University, and a M. S. L. S. and D. L. S. from the School of Library Service, Columbia University. Acting director Marian Alexander accepted reassignment to the new position of library systems coordinator.
At the start of her tenure, Dr. Segal initiated a team-based management structure. A guidance team composed of administrators, faculty, and staff was established in October 1996 to facilitate the transition and to serve as the forum for development of the five-year strategic plan requested by the Provost. Functional areas such as reference formed teams to facilitate communication and decision-making. Other, cross-organizational teams developed to address specific issues, policies, and service initiatives. During fall 1996, the library began a comprehensive effort in collaboration with the University’s office of institutional research to survey seven constituent groups, including faculty, new students, returning students, graduate students, administrators and staff, community users, and library staff.
Starting in January 1997, the library faculty reorganized the traditional public services component of library service around the concept of college-based librarians to better serve the informational, instructional, and research needs of students and faculty in the University’s five colleges. Coordinator positions were developed to lead services and programs such as cataloging, instruction, and collection development. In March, recruitment to fill six library faculty positions began. Consistent with the new organizational directions, the positions included four college-based librarians and an extended day services librarian to serve the late afternoon and evening clientele of the library.
Renovation, assessment, and renewal
In late summer 1996, removal of the much-loved "Empress tree" and the popular James Fitzgerald sculpture "Rain Forest" from the plaza at the top of the stairs between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library signaled the start of the library expansion project. Both had been features of the plaza since completion of Haggard Hall in 1959. The first phase of the Haggard Hall renovation commenced on September 1 as Nuprecon, Inc. began hazardous materials abatement and demolition work within the building. By the end of October, when this work was completed, the general contractor selection process begun in June also concluded. On February 6, 1997, the Board of Trustees awarded the contract to The Vemo Company of Seattle, successor of the firm Cawdrey and Vemo, general contractors for the Bassetti Addition of 1970/72. By February 24, the contractor was on the site and by mid-March, the library’s south door was closed for the duration and demolition of the plaza and stairs had begun.
Inside the library, evaluation of existing services and implementation of new initiatives continued. Following the recommendation of a staff team, the video collection and viewing stations were moved to the first floor in February 1997, to provide better access to this popular and growing service. In April, automation consultant Richard Boss assisted the library in assessing its computerized resources and recommended future directions for electronic services. In June, following extensive discussions between Dr. Segal and the Woodring College of Education, the library once again assumed responsibility for Library Science 125--Library Orientation, after a gap of more than thirty years.
Enhancements to the library information system continued as well. In May 1997, the library implemented the Innovative Interfaces "WebPAC" software, providing a Web-based online catalog capable of supporting active links to the fast-growing world of World Wide Web resources. Use of the check-in function of the Innovative serials module began in July, enabling users to see arrival information about individual issues of current subscription titles. In mid-1997, the library joined with its Cooperative Library Project partners in negotiating a group subscription to ProQuest Direct, a Web-based indexing, abstracting, and full-text service. Access to ProQuest Direct at Western began in August 1997.
Cooperative Library Project funding made possible several other enhancements implemented during 1997. Starting in January, the library information system offered access to the combined catalog of the six CLP participating libraries, developed and maintained by the University of Washington Libraries. Electronic bibliographic records purchased with the 1996 CLP allocation were loaded into the library information system starting in mid-year. By November, over 250,000 records had been added to the online catalog, providing access to individual titles in major microform sets such as Early English Books and the Library of American Civilization, United States government documents published since 1976, and thousands of Canadian and Washington State publications.
The strategic plan
On December 5, 1997, the Board of Trustees reaffirmed in the Western Washington University Role and Mission Statement that the University would "continue to improve library holdings, and access to library resources, including using advanced technologies to improve information procurement." In the fall of 1997, the library had adopted and presented to the campus community its strategic intent: "A client-centered library where learning transcends the boundaries of time, place, and format." In December, Dr. Segal submitted to Provost DeLorme the final version of the library’s strategic plan, Western Washington University Libraries: Organizational Directions and Major Strategies: 1998-2003, outlining goals, objectives, and performance indicators related to realizing the strategic intent.
The arrival in fall 1997 of four additional library faculty members considerably bolstered the library’s ability to pursue its new strategic goals related to instruction. In November, the faculty formed a curriculum committee to review proposed courses and make recommendations for the structure and content of core courses. On January 6, 1998, the University’s academic coordinating commission accepted the committee as "a regular curriculum committee with a responsibility to report its activity to the Academic Coordinating Commission." After more than thirty years, the library was once again part of the institution’s curricular process and the faculty turned its attention to development of a sequential instructional program.
The library began offering Library 125--Basic Information Seeking Skills in 1997/98 in addition to Library 201--Introduction to Library Strategies and also sought approval for other courses consistent with the curriculum of its envisioned library and information studies program. Starting in 1996/97, library faculty offered library tutorial and research courses linked to credit courses in specific disciplines, as well as library-focused components of cluster courses designed to be taken together. Instructional initiatives also extended to University programs such as Summerstart, the First Year Experience, and ResTek, the residence hall program supporting technology in the dormitories.
The library information system continued to expand throughout 1998. In May, the online archival service JSTOR was implemented, providing Web-based access to the full-text backfiles of dozens of scholarly journals. In August, the library introduced the OCLC FirstSearch service. Purchased through a regional library consortium and long a standard electronic reference source in academic libraries nationwide, FirstSeach offered Web-based access to a wide variety of databases supporting multiple disciplines.
Also consistent with its strategic goals, the library in 1998 began a systematic review of its holdings using the WLN collection assessment product, with the goal of revising the 1986 collection development plan. In fall 1998, work began with several academic units to develop strategic collection development plans specific to their unique needs. In addition, the library moved to implement programs to promote campus awareness of the library’s contributions to the University’s intellectual life. In November 1996, Dr. Segal had initiated the "salon" series "Vistas in Research," offering University faculty an additional venue to learn about and discuss their research ideas, projects, and outcomes. During 1998/99, the library began a reading series to provide campus authors with an opportunity to read from and discuss their works with University faculty, students, and staff.
The Haggard Wing of Wilson Library
The Haggard Hall renovation project proceeded apace during the last half of 1997, with interior demolition completed by mid-August. In July, remodeling began of basement areas at the midpoint of the south side of Wilson Library, underneath the area where the connector would join the existing structure. By mid-September, interior framing was progressing well in Haggard Hall and the start of the new brick façade was evident on the south exterior wall. The library began development of furniture and equipment lists. Construction of the connector between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library began in October 1997, followed by extensive stabilizing work on the existing columns on the Wilson side around the connector area.
Throughout 1998, intensive planning took place concerning the impending shifts of collections, services, and personnel to Haggard Hall. Starting in fall 1997, the library analyzed collection layout alternatives. The plan adopted early in 1998 placed materials classified in the Library of Congress classifications A-H in Haggard Hall, along with the unified reference collection. In December 1997, the library’s cataloging services unit began the periodicals classification project, to facilitate the eventual shelving of all periodicals by classification rather than by title, as had been the practice since the library’s earliest days.
By early June 1998, the connector between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library had taken shape and by the end of August, it was attached on the Wilson side. By October, the courtyard beneath the connector, linking Red Square to High Street, was paved, landscape planting had begun, and shelving and furniture were arriving for installation inside the new facility. In early November, the first computers were installed, and in early December, acquisitions and cataloging personnel became the first occupants of the library’s newly renovated space in Haggard Hall.
During the last two weeks of December 1998, the move of substantial parts of the collections to the Haggard Wing began, along with the re-location of personnel and services such as reference, circulation, and reserve. In Wilson Library, the government documents collections and reference service were moved to the first floor to create an enlarged government information area. The library’s collections of microforms and non-book materials were also relocated to the first floor to form a new media collections area. On December 30, 1998, the "Haggard Wing of Wilson Library" and the reconfigured central area of Wilson Library were ready for University and public use.