Message from the Dean - Fall 2021

Dean of Libraries

Message from the Dean - Fall 2021

September 15, 2021

As we begin fall quarter and reopen our library to students and faculty for the first time since March 2020, I can’t help but reflect on the past eighteen months.  I am, at times, overwhelmed by the loss of life, suffering, economic hardship, disruption to most every aspect of our daily lives, and the untold stress and anxiety this has caused.  Yet, through the unprecedented turmoil, I have been uplifted by so many examples of heroism, compassion, innovation, and perseverance.  I am grateful to healthcare and other frontline workers who have risked their lives throughout the pandemic to help others.  I am inspired by our educators and students who have learned from and with each other in ways they could never have imagined.  As the proud parent of a Western student, I am acutely aware of how COVID has impacted my daughter’s education -- her desire for an on-campus experience, personal interaction with her professors and other students, and participation in the university’s many co-curricular activities.  She may have postponed graduation had it not been for the amazing faculty and staff working tirelessly in every college to create a first-class, online education for her and thousands of other Western students.  Most of all, I am inspired by the amazing, talented professionals working in the Western Libraries, where I have the privilege to serve as dean.

Over the past year and a half, we have developed innovative programs and services that have enabled us to stay safe as well as true to our mission, values, and vision. Working closely together, we have fostered the inclusive excellence necessary for academic success and lifelong learning; remained committed to a culture of excellence, integrity, and leadership; and provided transformative opportunities and experiences needed to address the 21st century’s most difficult questions.  Our work during COVID demonstrates that the Western Libraries is more than its buildings, face-to-face programs and services, and direct access to physical collections -- not that these are unimportant.  It is instead about our desired learning outcomes -- our ability to advance a climate of student inquiry, collaboration, and agency.

When our buildings open again to patrons on September 16, the health and safety of employees and students will remain paramount.  Western has implemented vaccine and mask mandates to parallel those in Washington State.  Required masks in the library is but one of the many steps we have taken to reduce the spread of COVID.  You will find plexiglass at public service points. There are many locations to pick up a mask if you happen to forget one. Cleaning products like hand sanitizer and wipes can be found on tables throughout our buildings, and enhanced ventilation and CO₂ sensors have been installed to improve air circulation and monitor quality.  We recognize that despite current efforts, COVID is far from under control and will be with us well into the future.  We’ll take each day as it comes, learn from the day before, and adjust or expand programs and services as warranted by conditions at the time.

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, the Western Libraries has remained true to our teaching and learning mission, and fall quarter will be no different.  In addition to enhanced safety measures, you will also see improvements to our programs and services based upon lessons learned during the past year and a half. We will continue to develop self-paced online learning tools that allow students to utilize research and writing and tutoring support remotely.  Print materials will remain central to our collection development efforts, while the severe disruption to acquiring and circulating print collections has reminded us of the value of e-resources for those who choose this format or who cannot access the library. The Western Libraries has impressive archival and rare book collections.  We will build upon recent efforts to expand digital collections suitable for research and classroom instruction in order to supplement our physical materials.  

As fall quarter begins, I am both excited and a bit anxious.  I look forward to seeing my library colleagues and Western faculty and students in person again and to returning to one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  Though COVID remains a serious concern, the Western Libraries is ready to invite you back into our buildings and is optimistic about the future.  We have taken important steps to reduce the spread of COVID despite the growing threat of the delta variant.  We are ready to return to face-to-face programs and services while placing health and safety first, and we encourage you to utilize our improved and expanded online presence.     

Welcome back to the library.  Stay safe.  And enjoy your fall quarter.

Sincerely,

Mark I. Greenberg

Dean of Libraries