From the Dean
September 22, 2022
The 2022-23 academic year brings new changes to the Western Libraries. After nine years as Dean of Libraries, Mark Greenberg is moving into a new role as Director of Faculty Global Engagement for Western’s Institute for Global Engagement, effective fall quarter.
During his time as dean, Mark championed countless initiatives and led the Libraries through a variety of challenges. Under Mark’s leadership, the Libraries developed and strengthened services to enhance inclusive student success, including creation of the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio and integration of the Tutoring Center into the Libraries. He led us in good times, shepherding successes like the Libraries’ 2018-2024 strategic plan, and in difficult times, working alongside library personnel through challenges like painful subscription reductions. He was a tireless advocate for students, faculty, and staff throughout the pandemic. Mark promoted opportunities for library personnel to learn and grow; fostered a supportive workplace culture of collaboration and creative problem-solving; and advocated for more inclusive and equitable structures and resources, both within and outside of the library. Through it all, Mark remained committed to the Libraries’ mission, working tirelessly to provide the leadership, guidance, and support the organization needed. Mark looks forward to leveraging two decades of experience building global academic relationships in order to help Western strategically broaden and deepen its international curriculum, partnerships, and programs. He will remain close by, though the Libraries will miss him greatly.
In the meantime, two members of the Libraries’ leadership team will serve as interim leaders for the organization: I will step in as Interim Dean and Kate Cabe will serve as Interim Associate Dean. I joined the Libraries in 2017 as Director of Collections, bringing expertise in assessment, budget management, and collection development. Prior to Western, I served as the Head of Collection Development at George Mason University in Northern Virginia, where I was also active with the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) consortium. In my five years at Western, I’ve tried to embrace circumstance and lead the Libraries’ Collection Services Division through challenges both big and small. I have worked closely with a variety of groups across the university, including the Senate Library Committee and University Planning & Resources Council, as well as personnel at other libraries across Whatcom County and the region.
My colleague Kate came to Western Libraries in 2008 from Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex. She started as a Circulation Specialist; since then, she has had the opportunity to work and develop skills in several areas of the library including resource sharing, collection management and assessment, and organizational development. Kate has been active in the Orbis Cascade Alliance, including serving as Chair of the Summit Planning and Operations Team and as a member of the Alliance Assessment Team. She loves–and has a knack for–solving problems and helping people; she appreciates that her work in the Libraries allows her to do both in a very practical way. Kate and I have a long history of working closely together and hope that our leadership will provide a measure of stability and continuity through this transitional period. We are committed to the Libraries’ mission, to advancing the good work already underway, and to fostering a continuing climate of innovation. Above all, we are committed to supporting and collaborating with the students, staff, and faculty here at Western.
This fall the Libraries is excited to offer a broad range of hours and services, as we inch ever-closer to whatever post-pandemic life will look like. We remain committed to community health, wellness, and safety, as well as to advancing the equity and accessibility gains made over the past two-and-a-half years. We continue to offer a variety of online services for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, including a virtual tour of the library, self-paced online tutorials (SPOT) for research and writing, our Equitable Assignment Design module for faculty, and a variety of online exhibits. Our online resources include an ever-evolving collection of e-books, e-journals, and streaming media, as well as access to digitized books for users with print disabilities (in partnership with the Disability Access Center) and, in select cases, for course reserves.
At the same time, we are pleased to offer more in-person options to support our users’ wide variety of schedules and needs. Our Subject Teams are already meeting with incoming and returning faculty, reviewing library collections, and planning for this year’s instruction needs.
Starting September 24, we will be open on Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. The Tutoring Center (TC) will continue a partnership with Advancing Equity and Excellence in Science (AEES) to hire three alumni of AEES as co-located, cross-trained Peer Mentors to support incoming AEES students. AEES/Tutoring Center Peer Mentors will attend the AEES seminars and hold mentoring hours in both the TC and in Science, Math, and Technology Education (SMATE). With support from a generous donation, the Tutoring Center will also be implementing redesign plans, including reconfigured physical spaces and new technology to improve in-person, online, and hybrid subject tutoring and study skills support.
This fall, the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio is excited to offer workshops and opportunities for community-building in and around the developing Kitto Graduate Student Hub. The Hub, funded in part by the generosity of Kathy Kitto and Dennis Waller, will be a physical and virtual space to bring together graduate student support services and provide a sense of community and place for Western’s graduate community. Over the course of the year, we will be renovating spaces on the second floor of Haggard to create a physical space for the Hub. When completed, the space will be a home for library, graduate school, and other partner programming, some of which is already underway. Upcoming program topics for 2022-23 include imposter syndrome, strengths-based learning, Special Collections, and weekly Open Studio hours where graduate students can troubleshoot projects, find support in accountability, and develop skills relevant to their research.
For 2022-23 we have a host of new projects and initiatives at varying stages of completion. Within the next few months, Haggard Hall will feature a newly remodeled, multi-stall gender-neutral restroom, creating safe restroom access in one of the Bellingham campus’ busiest locations. In just the past few weeks, the Libraries unveiled a new, more accessible website. The site aligns with the design of other university websites and utilizes elements developed by WebTech to improve web accessibility. By using features built into Western’s templates and themes, we can now ensure improved web accessibility and prioritize accessibility as an integral step in content development. The Libraries is also proud to announce a name change for our Heritage Resources division, which will now be known as Archives & Special Collections. The change comes as a result of much careful thought and discussion around the complex cultural implications of the term “heritage.” Related to this work, Archives & Special Collections has developed a Statement about Potentially Harmful Language and Content that formally acknowledges the harm and bias in the material we collect and the methods we use to interpret these resources.
The Libraries will also continue to deepen our engagement with accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI). In addition to some of the projects described above and other grassroots work happening throughout the organization, our leadership team is in the process of documenting and defining our commitments via an ADEI framework, a roadmap for action, and an assessment plan. This overarching structure will help chart our path forward and provide accountability for resourcing, embedding, and sustaining these critical efforts at all levels. We have begun to take some small steps, but can and must do more to tangibly move toward being a truly diverse, welcoming, and just organization.
We are energized by this work and can’t imagine a more exciting time to lead the Western Libraries. But nothing motivates us more than the dedication and creativity of our student, staff, and faculty colleagues. We’re grateful for the opportunity to support and encourage such a vibrant group of people.
We look forward to an exciting 2022-23 academic year. We hope you’ll visit us, whether online or in person!
Interim Dean of Libraries