News from the Dean

News from the Dean

Mark I. Greenberg, Dean of Libraries

It’s been a long and snowy winter, but warmer and sunnier weather will soon be upon us. As we begin spring quarter, I want to share information about important activities underway in the Western Libraries as well as recent accomplishments. 

The Libraries launched an improved website back in January. The extensive time and effort to develop the new site was well spent. Many students, faculty, and staff rely on the website as their primary point of contact for information about and access to library collections and services. The redesign process partnered Libraries faculty and staff with Western’s WebTech group and University Communications & Marketing. In order to build a website that meets the needs of the Libraries diverse user groups, the development team deployed web usability best practices, solicited extensive user feedback, and conducted focused usability sessions with representative library patrons. The Libraries made a beta version of the website available during fall quarter 2016 and received helpful comments over several months. In order to improve the user experience, the web redesign team worked hard to make the new website more user centered and easier to discover services, collections, and spaces. The redesign also highlights library communication channels like phone, chat, and email; improves navigation within the website; and offers improved usability on mobile devices. Your continued feedback is on the redesign and associated functionality is both encouraged and appreciated.

In June 2016, the Libraries concluded an eight-month-long process to reduce journal subscription expenses and balance the budget. Escalating subscription prices and a flat library resources budget required cuts of $225,000 for the 2016-2017 academic year. A Senate Library Committee task force established cancellation criteria and outlined a process to solicit faculty feedback. Faculty across the university reviewed 3,614 journal titles and requested 579 titles for retention. In making the difficult decision to discontinue specific journal titles, the Libraries sought to maximize its buying power with each vendor, to retain high use journals when possible, and to limit disruption to faculty, staff, and students. This spring, Western must renegotiate its expiring journal package licenses with two other vendors. Preliminary discussions with one vendor to renew the university’s current journal package at a sustainable inflationary price increase look promising. Unfortunately, another vendor has indicated drastic changes to its pricing model for 2018 and increases of as much as 23 percent if Western wants to continue to subscribe to all of its current content. The university cannot accept price increases at this level and will be working with the vendor and partner universities on a solution that reduces the final cost increase and minimizes any loss of content. If or when subscriptions are discontinued, the Libraries has an excellent track record providing content in a timely manner via interlibrary loan or purchase-on-demand. In fact, less than 1 percent of requested articles last calendar year could not be filled by the journal publisher or a lending library. To aid in locating content not owned or licensed by Western, the Libraries added a + Summit + Articles + More tab to OneSearch. Searching + More provides bibliographic information about scholarly resources the Western Libraries can provide via Inter-Library Loan. To learn more about the subscription reduction review process or the effected journals, please visit the Subscriptions Reduction Review web site or contact Collection Services.

The Libraries (in partnership with the Graduate School, Office of the Provost, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs) is pleased to provide Western CEDAR. The online Institutional Repository advances Western’s commitment to enriching academic inquiry and strengthening communities by sharing the expertise and creativity of its students, faculty, and staff worldwide via the Web. Since its launch just over two years ago, content in CEDAR has grown to include 126 individual faculty research pages located in the SelectedWorks Author Gallery, 31 departmental pages, 11 monographs, numerous Office of Survey Research reports, 556 theses, 2015 and 2016 Scholars Week poster sessions, the 2014 and 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conferences, the Journal of Educational Controversy, and the new Huxley College of the Environment journal Summit to Salish Sea: Inquiries and Essays. At the end of February 2017, just over 4,128 documents contained in CEDAR had been downloaded worldwide 191,557 times. All campus units are invited to disseminate reports, papers, datasets, conference proceedings, and the like. People interested in open access publishing can manage the editorial process and publish the final product. The Libraries has taken an active leadership role in managing CEDAR day to day, helping faculty, staff, and students with the software’s many capabilities, and educating authors on their intellectual property rights and responsibilities. To learn more about CEDAR and how to get involved, don’t hesitate to contact Scholarly Communications Librarian Jenny Oleen or CEDAR Project Manager Kim Marsicek.

In addition to developments in the Libraries’ virtual space, exciting physical changes have transformed the second floor of Haggard Hall. The Hacherl Research & Writing Studio, which integrates academic support for research, writing, and reading literacies in a vibrant learning environment staffed by experts, is now complete. The third and final phase of the project – a glass-walled workshop and group project area – was installed in winter quarter. Less than two years old, the Studio welcomed 19,500 students to the space in fall quarter – a figure almost as high as total visitations for all of last academic year. Students come to use the flexible furnishings and mobile technologies, to work on academic projects by themselves or with others, and to seek academic support from the Studio’s expert staff. The Libraries is grateful to Cindy, Don, and Adam Hacherl; Dave and Ann Mann; and Dick, Melinda, and Laura Hearsey for the generous financial support that made the new Studio possible. 

Later this spring, the Mann Family Skybridge will receive a much-needed facelift. Thanks to a generous gift from Dave and Ann Mann and Ann’s mother, Sally Thompson, the Libraries will replace all of the furniture in the Skybridge. In keeping with other library facilities projects, Western students have an important role to play in the furniture’s selection. Sample chairs and tables will be placed in the space early in spring quarter, and the Libraries eagerly seeks feedback on preferences.

As always, I encourage you to stop by to see me in Haggard Hall 231 or to send me an email if there is anything I can do to improve the Libraries.

Regards,

Mark I. Greenberg
Dean of Libraries
April 2017