Laura Laffrado & Ella Higginson

Posted on: Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 11:03am

Topic(s): Event - Library Sponsored, Resources

The Beginnings of PNW Literature

Laura Laffrado, an award-winning Professor of English at Western Washington University, will discuss her recent research project focused on early-twentieth century author Ella Higginson on Tuesday, October 27th,  from 4:00pm-5:30pm in Special Collections at Western Libraries.


During this presentation, Laffrado will explain how her project to recover the fascinating writings of forgotten Pacific Northwest writer Ella Rhoads Higginson began in Western Libraries Heritage Resources’ collections and ultimately led to the publication of her recent book, Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature.


Noted writer and Washington state Poet Laureate Ella Higginson (1861-1940) moved to the town of Sehome (now Bellingham) in 1888, at which time her writing career began to flourish. Higginson was deeply concerned with community and civic affairs, including issues affecting women such as female education and the institution of marriage, and she helped establish Bellingham’s first public reading room and library.


Higginson’s poetry and short stories were published nationally by journals including McClures, Harper's Monthly, and Colliers, and her best known work, a poem entitled "Four Leaf Clover," was published by West Shore Magazine in 1890. Laffrado’s book shines a spotlight on this once widely-known and celebrated author, helping to restore Higginson as a significant voice in American Literature.  


This special talk is being offered as a “Heritage Resources Distinguished Speakers” program. These quarterly events are free and open to the public, and  feature presenters who are authorities in their respective fields who have used Heritage Resources collections significantly in their research.


For more information about this event, please contact Western Libraries Special Collections Manager,

TLA begins October 7th & 8th

Posted on: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 8:30am

Topic(s): Event - Library Sponsored, Resources, Updates

Fall Quarter 2015 TLA

The Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA), the campus-wide dialogue forum to study and enhance the learning environment at Western Washington University, begins Wednesday, October 7th.  TLA welcomes faculty, staff, students and community members and offers four dialogue group options to accommodate busy schedules: Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1:20pm or from 2pm to 3:20pm.

Dialogue groups begin meeting Oct. 7th or 8th and then meet every other week in the Learning Commons (Wilson Library 2 West) for a total of five times during the quarter. Fall quarter is when TLA designs its BIG question to study for the rest of the year, so it’s a great time to participate.

While the sessions last officially for 80 minutes, attendees are welcome to come for whatever time they have available. Many faculty and staff, stay for the first 50 minutes as there is a logical break then.

Participants report that the TLA is a great place to connect with others outside their departments and to learn more about Western’s teaching and learning culture. Many say it also gives them a chance to take a breath and just listen to what others (especially students) really think. Others report delight in being able to advance real action steps in making Western an even better place to teach and learn.

For more information, see For more information or to sign up for a regular dialogue group, email

Sharing with the World - Western CEDAR

Posted on: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 3:19pm

Topic(s): Feature Story, Resources

One need only glance at the “Faculty Notes” page of Western Today to get a sense of the depth and range of research, scholarship, and creative works that Western’s faculty are producing. Western CEDAR, Western Washington University’s institutional repository (IR), is one way Western can share these innovative and engaging outputs with the world. Part of a global movement promoting open access to scholarship and creative works, Western CEDAR is a service of Western Libraries, in partnership with the Graduate School, Office of the Provost, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.


Since its launch last fall, CEDAR’s implementation team has been working diligently with Western faculty and staff to both create SelectedWorks pages and also add content to the repository that will help make the scholarly and creative work of Western’s community accessible to everyone.


“So much is made about the teaching-learning mission of the university. But I’m constantly amazed at the quality and quantity of academic scholarship that is produced at Western. This allows us, in one place, to begin to tell the story of the university’s collective efforts to engage in the production of new knowledge, and to share that broadly,” explained Dr. Francisco Rios, Dean of Woodring College of Education.


CEDAR’s Selected Works feature allows faculty from Western to share their work and expand their readership. Articles published in peer-reviewed journals that are added to CEDAR are search engine optimized for maximum exposure, meaning they have the potential to receive increased readership beyond the discipline-specific journal in which they were first published.


While one of the goals of CEDAR is to make scholarship available and accessible to anyone in the world, a local benefit of using SelectedWorks is that it provides scholars at Western an opportunity to discover what their colleagues here at Western are researching and creating. Elementary Education Professor Joy Wiggins explained how CEDAR helps connect faculty across the university, enabling them to recognize how their work intersects with other disciplines.


"My research intersects with anthropology, sociology, psychology and even political science, and it just makes sense for me to seek research outside of education...We tend to stay encapsulated in our disciplines and respective departments because we are so busy just teaching, attending to service and squeezing in our writing that we sometimes forget to look up from our desks and seek other like-minded folks from different disciplines that bring a whole new, fresh insight to our work. That’s what’s so exciting to me. CEDAR is one way to connect us," said Wiggins.


Faculty who create SelectedWorks pages can showcase their scholarly and creative works by displaying them in a customized format organized according to the categories they decide to highlight, (such as: areas of research and expertise, awards and honors, publications, bibliographies, Curriculum Vitae, or lists of links to additional information). SelectedWorks pages also allow scholars to easily cultivate their own network of followers by inviting contacts to join their announcement network, or follow them via RSS feed or email.


Environmental Sciences Professor Robin Matthews’ SelectedWorks page includes something entirely unique since she is the author of the very first book ever published in CEDAR, a taxonomy guide to local algae that includes hundreds of high resolution color images. The book can be downloaded electronically to a computer or mobile device, and it was created with active links which make it easy to use.


“Putting the book on CEDAR solved a huge problem I was facing: how to make the book accessible to students and other professionals at a low or no cost and without loss of quality. Printing this type of book would be prohibitively expensive, assuming I could even find a publisher interested in the project,” explained Matthews.


Not only was Matthews able to create something she uses in her own teaching, she has also connected with others outside of the United States who have told her that her book has helped them in teaching their students algal taxonomy. Currently, publications from Western Washington University's faculty, staff and students, including Western's Masters Thesis Collection, are being downloaded by people from all over the world. CEDAR's website includes a dynamic map that begins with the previous days' downloads before switching to real-time activity, so you can see for yourself the global impact of the work being done at Western.


“Ultimately, this is about providing access to the broadest range of one’s scholarship to as many people as possible.  As an educational institution, we have a commitment and obligation to generate new knowledge. But that knowledge, to have impact, needs to be shared with as many others as possible.  And others need to be able to access that knowledge,” said Rios.


Cedar’s implementation team at Western Libraries is available to assist you in if you are interested in creating a SelectedWorks page to showcase your work, or if you have any questions about Western CEDAR. Please contact Western Libraries Scholarly Communication Librarian, or Western CEDAR Manager for more information.

New Research-Writing Studio

Posted on: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 10:32am

Topic(s): Resources, Updates

Western Libraries and the Learning Commons are pleased to announce the merger of Research Consultation and the Writing Center into the Research-Writing Studio, which will integrate academic support in a vibrant learning environment staffed by research consultants and writing assistants.


The merger will be accomplished in two phases. The first phase begins with the relocation of Research Consultation and the Writing Center to Haggard Hall East behind the Student Technology Center (STC). The second phase will be implemented by the fall of 2015 when the Research-Writing Studio will move into its permanent space in the center of Haggard Hall adjacent to the STC.



University faculty have repeatedly identified the development of student research and writing skills as an important role of the Libraries. The Research-Writing Studio, funded exclusively by private donation, will feature flexible furnishings and mobile technologies to facilitate scholarly work and support for core academic literacies such as researching, reading, and writing. Students can work on their academic projects individually, with peers, or with consultants.


Featuring innovative pedagogies important to student learning, the Research-Writing Studio will integrate support for academic work, and scholars who use the Studio can receive feedback while they practice their craft.  Research consultants and writing assistants will offer incremental, strategy-based consultations while students work individually or collaboratively within the space.

Over the next few months, you may notice Studio-related changes in the Library.  In addition to the relocation of Research Consultation and the Writing Center to Haggard Hall East, the oversize collection will be relocated to the Wilson Library, and the reference collection will move from Wilson to Haggard 2. Although no major construction is planned, some infrastructure improvements to electrical and lighting will occur over the summer.

For more details on implementation plans, please contact



Mike Olson and Resource Access

Posted on: Monday, February 23, 2015 - 1:21pm

Topic(s): Feature Story, Resources

It's no secret, especially among Western Washington University faculty, that access to academic resources is critical to the university's ongoing excellence. In a time when budgets are tight and costs are increasing, it's especially important to find other ways to ensure academic work can continue unabated. That's one reason that Western Libraries recently hired Mike Olson to be director of Scholarly Resources and Collection Services.


In the new position, Olson oversees scholarly communications and leads and administers collection development and services at Western Libraries. Providing leadership for the selection and management of collections, he also coordinates the development and promotion of sustainable models of scholarly communication by working closely with library leadership, staff and external stakeholders to advance other digital initiatives.


History Professor Amanda Eurich, who served on the search committee that recommended Olson’s hire, said she was struck by his experience and his qualifications.


"Mike was on the top of my list when I received the applicant files because of the years of experience he had in collection development," she said. "But even more importantly, he is a committed scholar, engaged in the process of research and writing. Because of this, I felt that he would truly understand faculty investment in library resources."


As an academic librarian at a number of institutions, including both Harvard University and UCLA, Olson has been actively involved with scholarly communication and resource access for more than 25 years. Additionally, because he is also an accomplished scholar, he personally understands the importance of securing access to materials that support writing and research needs.


"I know firsthand the user’s joy and exhilaration when academic libraries get it right, and the pain and frustration when they don’t," Olson said. "I think Western Libraries does so many things right, and we want to improve whenever we can."


The cost of journal and database subscriptions rise about 4 to 6 percent each year, and the budget allocated to pay for them can't keep up.


But by negotiating better subscription terms, favoring open access models of scholarly communication and regularly reviewing and adjusting current subscriptions lists, there are things the Libraries can do institutionally to strengthen purchasing power and provide greater access to resources, Olson said.


“The acquisitions budget has always been a big problem, especially for people in fields like history, who rely heavily on the library for their research," said History Professor Peter Diehl. "There are journals that are needed, especially those in other languages, which get cut because of a lack of funds. The cost of academic monographs keeps going up but the budget to acquire them does not.”


Eurich agreed. While being a member of a consortium such as the Orbis Cascade Alliance has many benefits, she said, sometimes faculty and students just need to grab a book right away.


“You could say the library is our lab,” she said. “It is still important to have works on the shelf. We consider ourselves a writing-intensive discipline. Our students are conversant with Summit, but they still sometimes need immediate access to books and other resources.”


In addition to his experience and expertise, Olson’s personality and open communication style lend themselves well to facing the challenges that lie ahead. Diehl, who has a friendship with Olson dating back to when they first met as graduate students at UCLA over 30 years ago, spoke highly of Olson’s excellent interpersonal skills.


“He works so well with other people, and that’s a real asset. He has successful experience, both with collection development and with people,” Diehl said. “And, on a personal note, he gives me someone to watch football games with!”


Olson explained that he has a personal interest in sports, movies, and music.


“I’m curious about many other things as well, so that has been useful in my career as a collection development librarian, and when talking with people in higher education. As a native Seattleite and an alum of the University of Washington, I really feel right at home here at Western,” said Olson.


Olson emphasized that he is always pleased to meet with faculty to discuss the Libraries’ scholarly resources, and that he wants to encourage anyone interested in these issues to contact him. He intends to spend the upcoming year meeting with faculty independently and in small groups to learn more about how they currently use the Libraries’ resources, and their needs and priorities for the future. These meetings will feed directly into the creation of a “Resource Access Plan,” which will be fully developed this time next year. In looking forward, Olson spoke about the importance of increasing access to information by finding ways to remove barriers to content and scholarship.


“I want to enable Western’s students, faculty, staff, and administrators to work more effectively. Also, I want to ensure that our library resources are highly useful and highly-used. I really have one goal, and everything else fits within it: to collaborate campus-wide on rational and transparent ways to provide access to scholarly resources for the Western community,” said Olson.


Mike Olson can be contacted by phone (360) 650-4320 or via email


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