News from the Dean

News from the Dean

Mark I. Greenberg, Dean of Libraries

I hope you had a wonderful summer. As we begin a new academic year, I want to share information about initiatives and improvements in the Western Libraries as well as recent accomplishments. 

It is a real pleasure to welcome the Tutoring Center (TC) to the Western Libraries. The TC is utilized at one time or another by nearly 50 percent of Western undergraduate students, and it connects them with resources, opportunities, and strategies they need to attain their academic goals. The TC’s three permanent staff and 80 student tutors and peer advisors collaborate with other university programs and departments to support teaching and learning, cultivate excellence in math and science GURs, encourage the development of effective study skills, and foster community. The TC is committed to student success, critical thought, creativity, and equity. A long-time member of the Learning Commons, the TC’s realignment from Enrollment and Student Services to Academic Affairs will enable the Libraries to capitalize on important synergies within its overall suite of learning initiatives focused on student success.

Following on the heels of the impressive and extremely popular “The Global Book” exhibition, Heritage Resources will host a new exhibition exploring the complex relationship between humans’ love of high altitudes and issues of gender, race, and class. “To the Mountaintop: A Social History of Mountaineering,” opened on September 26 and will remain on display through March 22, 2019. The exhibit is free and open to the public, and can be viewed Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed weekends and holidays) in Special Collections (Wilson Library 6th floor). “To the Mountaintop” features rare books, historical photographs, and manuscript materials from Western Libraries’ division of Heritage Resources. Together, these unique resources reveal glimpses into the mountaineering history of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, providing background and context to support the study not only of climbing and outdoor recreation, but also topics including race, gender, class, culture, and climate change.

During Fall Quarter, the Libraries will open several new spaces. The Bayview Study Lounge is a quiet study area on Wilson 5 West. Two generous private gifts made the lounge possible. Some of the attraction is the spectacular view over the PAC Plaza, across Bellingham Bay and, on a clear day, to the Canadian Coastal Mountains in the distance. Aside from the visual appeal, the space is designed to stimulate scholarship and to draw students to the 5th floor, much like the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio does for Haggard Hall. Modern, flexible furnishings include a variety of seating and study configurations such as worktables, study pods, and upholstered “lounge” seating suitable for a casual study experience. The lounge is the direct result of student feedback. Since 2011, the Western Libraries has collected data at three-year intervals on the use of library facilities. These surveys have helped us understand where in our buildings students gravitate and what they do in those spaces. By far, the main floorplate with its Zoe’s Bookside Bagels, public service points, and social atmosphere is the busiest part of the library complex. But a significant number of students seek out quiet spaces to meet their study needs. As a destination, floors 4 and 5 have increased in popularity, seeing 22% of total building users in 2014 and 34% in 2017. When asked to rank the importance of a place to work alone, quiet study areas ranked 4.7 on a 5-point scale.

During Fall Quarter, the Libraries is excited to reopen the Map Collection and microforms in newly renovated space on Wilson Library 2 East. The prominent location in the heart of the Learning Commons includes expanded library staff support in the use of maps and microforms, more effective cabinetry to house the collections, audio/visual improvements to enhance public programming and teaching, and updated study space for all library users. The renovation also will enable the Disability Access Center (formerly DisAbility Resources for Students) and Veteran Services to relocate from Old Main to renovated space on the 1st floor of Wilson Library in Winter Quarter. The Disability Access Center ensures equal access for students with disAbilities to all curricular and co-curricular opportunities offered by the university. Western’s Veteran Services Office provides comprehensive services to veterans, service members, and their dependents as they pursue their education. Together, the changes on the first and second floors of Wilson are expected to have a significant and positive impact on support services for students and the Libraries’ teaching and learning mission.

The third renovation directly addresses the Libraries’ first of four strategic goals, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion: “To create an efficient, respectful, and empowered workforce, develop a culture that acknowledges the organization’s shortcomings and visibly and publicly shares the strategies, action steps, and progress in addressing inequity.” This goal will permeate all aspects of library operations, including issues as fundamental as restroom facilities. To that end, I am pleased to report that the Libraries has opened a new gender-neutral / accessible restroom on the first floor of Wilson Library, available all hours the library is open. (Similar facilities exist with limited hours on the 6th floor of Wilson Library.) The Libraries recognizes that people who are transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming regularly experience harassment when using gender-specific restrooms. Gender neutral restrooms offer safe access for people of all gender identities and are important for some people with non-binary gender identities when gender-specific restrooms are not a suitable option. People with disabilities who have an attendant of a different gender as well as parents, caregivers, and their children also benefit from gender neutral restrooms. The Libraries is thankful to the university for funding the renovation and to its strong partnership with the Equal Opportunity Office and the Director of LGBTQ+, L. K. Langley, for making this important change possible. Click here for more information on the university’s important work regarding gender neutral facilities.

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 nearly four years ago, content in CEDAR has grown to include 145 individual research pages located in the SelectedWorks Author Gallery, 32 departmental pages, X Honors Program Senior Projects, 754 graduate student theses, annual Scholars Week poster sessions, the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conferences, the Journal of Educational Controversy, and the Huxley College of the Environment journal Summit to Salish Sea: Inquiries and Essays. More recently, Western’s Border Policy Research Institute added its policy briefs, proceedings, research reports, working papers, and theses to CEDAR; and Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies made available the 2009-2018 video recordings of its thought-provoking World Issues Forum. At the end of August 2018, the 6,253 items contained in CEDAR had been downloaded worldwide 458,668 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 Western CEDAR Manager Kim Marsicek.

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
September 2018