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A History of the Western Washington University Library1899-1998

By Marian Alexander 

A library of promise

In the legislative session of March 1899, an appropriation of $33,500 was made to the State Normal School at New Whatcom, of which $1,500 was intended to both equip and purchase a collection for "the nucleus of a general library." The Circular of Information for the upcoming school year, prepared by the newly arrived Principal, E. T. Mathes, promised potential students that "a reference library, containing about twelve hundred volumes will be ready for use in September." The library was to be situated on the main floor of the new school’s sole facility, a majestic redbrick structure at the eastern edge of the barren, swampy ten-acre campus high on the northwest shoulder of Sehome Hill.

With other faculty not yet appointed, it fell primarily to Dr. Mathes to manage all aspects of the library’s creation. Simultaneously, he attended to immediate needs delayed by the two-year absence of maintenance funding from the legislature, including sidewalks, sewers, and steam heat. For the new library, since time was of the essence, multiple copies of basic reference works such as dictionaries (including twenty copies of Webster’s in various editions) figured largely in the purchases for the initial collection. Interested local supporters, notably the well-known author and Normal neighbor Ella Higginson and Board of Trustee’s member and poet Frank Carleton Teck contributed copies of their works. As they arrived, new faculty members also donated books from their own collections and were invited to recommend favorite titles for immediate purchase.

Thus, on the first formal opening day, September 6, 1899, the school was able to present a library nearly equal to Dr. Mathes’ early promise, containing 800-1000 volumes, selected "with special reference to research work." In addition, the library housed the large collection of textbooks the state provided free to all students. To assure funding for future acquisitions, the Board of Trustees implemented the legislatively sanctioned Normal school library fee of $10 per student per year. Half of this fee directly supported a library fund for the purchase of new books. The other half was placed in a rebate account and returned at the close of the year, or when students left the institution, provided that books belonging to the school were returned in good condition ("natural wear excepted").

At its meeting on August 25, 1899, the Board had approved the appointment of Hattie B. Thompson of Tacoma as the school’s first librarian as well as stenographer of the school, commencing on September 5 at the salary of $30 per month. Although a senior student and not a trained librarian, Hattie Thompson was an experienced teacher whom the students were soon praising enthusiastically for her "happy faculty of ‘lending a hand’ to struggling ones" as well as for answering "hundreds of questions patiently every day." Under her tolerant direction, and with Principal Mathes’ continued devoted attention, the library flourished. By December, the student newspaper, The Normal Messenger, reported that there were 1,420 volumes, 250 more were on order, and there was still $400 unexpended in the library fund.

To the students’ delight, Miss Thompson agreed to stay on after graduating in June 1900. While she vacationed during that summer, Principal Mathes continued to order books and other materials for the library’s collection, including 60 periodicals "representing the best literature of the day." In September, The Messenger marveled that it was anticipated that 1,000 volumes would be added to the collection during the coming school year. With continued growth expected, and the limits of the original room doubtless already reached, the library had been moved upstairs into "the most pleasant rooms in the building," just above the main entrance and under the assembly room. The new area was capable of comfortably accommodating up to 80 library users at a time, and from the high northwest facing windows, must have offered a fine view of the broad expanse of water which pooled persistently from November through April in front of the building.

By the start of the Normal’s third year of operation, the library collections were described as including more than 3,000 volumes with circulation exceeding 400 volumes per month. During the summer of 1901, additional bookcases had been constructed to contain the increasing inventory, the walls of the library whitewashed ("kalsomined"), and "several large pictures hung." The legislative appropriation to the institution continued to include $1,000 per biennium for the library, and there was a steady increase in the acquisition fund generated by the required library fee as the student body grew. There seemed every reason for optimism regarding the library’s future.

In March 1901, however, the popular Hattie Thompson resigned, as The Messenger sorrowfully reported, to accept a teaching assignment in Seattle. Such was the general affection for her that "on the evening she left, a large crowd of students assembled at the Whatcom dock and accompanied her as far as Fairhaven." The new school year began with an "Acting Librarian" in place. Mrs. Ada B. Clothier was given a "hearty welcome" and credited for quickly learning most of the students’ names and faces, but the students immediately noted her sterner temperament. "Why does Mrs. Clothier object to the students carrying money in the library? Because money talks" constituted one mild Messenger reproof. 


"Mabel Zoe Wilson of Athens, Ohio"

By now, the number of faculty at the Normal had more than doubled and there was growing dissatisfaction with the library’s lack of organization and professional management. At a special meeting on June 8, 1901, the Board of Trustees acted on "the recommendation of the faculty" and specifically instructed Principal Mathes "to enter into correspondence for the purpose of securing a professional librarian as soon as possible." Mrs. Clothier was to be retained as "Assistant Librarian" through June 1, 1902.

Six months later, at the Board meeting on December 11, 1901, Principal Mathes was able to report success. "Per adoption of a resolution to heed the faculty’s request for a graduate librarian, … he had entered into correspondence with Mabel Zoe Wilson of Athens, Ohio, and that subject to the Board’s approval, he had engaged her for that position." It was then speedily "resolved that Mabel Zoe Wilson be employed as Librarian of the school at a salary of $600 per year of twelve months, she to enter upon her work February 1, 1902."

How Mabel Zoe Wilson, born 1878 in Athens, Ohio, came to apply for a librarian position in the isolated reaches of the turn-of-the century Northwest, as well as how Principal Mathes came to hire her, remains an enduring mystery. Although not a "graduate librarian," she had earned an A. B. from Ohio University in 1900, pursuing a rigorous course of study, including Greek, political economy, and rhetoric. By 1902, she had accumulated four years of undergraduate teaching along with tutoring in a preparatory school, and one year of public school teaching.

According to one account, Mabel Zoe Wilson’s application for the opening at the Normal was a prank instigated by friends, as she had no education or even interest in library work. If true, perhaps Dr. Mathes found her cheekiness as attractive as her academic credentials. Perhaps too, her willingness to come to a new institution at the edge of the nation struck the fancy of a man who only erred as a leader, according to one of his original faculty members, in thinking that his faculty could do anything. Whatever the facts, he hired her, she came, and neither of them ever looked back.

"There just wasn’t a library!"

Mabel Zoe Wilson may have had no training or experience in library techniques, but she obviously knew a proper library when she saw one, and her first reaction to the Normal’s effort to date was one of horror. On February 1, 1902, "there just wasn’t a library!" she was to exclaim many years later. "There was a study hall, a few reference books, a great stack or pile of magazines not shelved in one corner of the room and in some bookcases several hundred, probably 400 to 500 books. Most of the books were a collection of free textbooks provided by the state. A sheaf of bills from book firms and order sheets constituted the records."

Although later in life she was to recall that the collection at that time probably contained about 2,500 volumes, her initial dismay was surely based on finding none of the usual attributes of library organization. Despite the good intentions of her predecessors, the Normal library had become a sadly diminished shambles, incapable of effectively serving the growing student body and faculty. There was no catalog and no other inventory record of the collection. The "sheaf of bills" she found on her arrival constituted the only means of verifying books not found on the shelves. The books that did remain were organized more or less by school department, rather than by any recognized system of classification.

With the aid of Mrs. Clothier, who was re-engaged as assistant librarian through September, Miss Wilson began organizing the books on hand, excluding the textbooks, and creating a card catalog. She began making entries in the "Accessions-books," assigning each volume a unique identifying number and a classification number and entering brief bibliographical details. Using common practice for small libraries of the day, she classified most non-fiction using the Dewey Decimal system, although biographies were grouped by subjects’ names under the letter "B." Fiction was classified as "F", sub-arranged by author, and children’s books were assigned "F" and Dewey numbers preceded by "J." A separate reference section was created, with call numbers preceded by "R." She also prepared, at first probably in longhand, the multiple cards for each title for the new card catalog and marked all the volumes with call numbers so they could be efficiently shelved and located.

With breathtaking speed, a real library was brought into being. In the Annual Catalogue of June 1902, the school depicted this achievement with a photograph of the well-ordered facility, including the librarian who was guaranteed to be "in constant charge to maintain order and instruct and assist students in the use of books and pamphlets." In September, The Messenger noted admiringly that "Miss Wilson has devoted her entire summer to her work in the Library, with the result that the books are now all catalogued and arranged for use according to the card catalogue system." That year, she was booked to provide a lecture for the Professional Lecture Course on a topic she obviously knew well: "Classification of a Small Library."

Three or four faculty members and Miss Wilson formed the Library Committee, whose task was to review the faculty’s lists of desired purchases for the library. Although the Committee, Miss Wilson later wrote, struggled to "furnish all the different departments with a working collection" with the funds available, the final word was often the Principal’s. "Dr. Mathes very often changed their decisions without warning," an early member later recalled. Still, the collections grew in number and variety. The Messenger of November 1902 called the students’ attention to the new international encyclopedia and "200 general reference books" added to the collection since school opened. Sixty-five periodicals were available, including such staples as The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, and The Century, as well as numerous education and pedagogy titles.

In The Messenger of March 1903, the new librarian wrote that the library had increased to 4,600 volumes "selected to meet the demands of the Normal students in their research work and supplementary reading." She directed students’ attention to the new card catalog and the use of call numbers to organize books on the shelf. Two books at a time could be "drawn out," with the transaction to be recorded by a librarian, and to ensure their return, a fine was imposed after two weeks. She also noted that a new "card catalogue of important articles … prepared by the literature classes" improved access to the magazine collection.

The "inexperienced student," however, was not to be concerned by these profound changes. "With a few minutes explanation concerning the classification and catalogue," soothed Miss Wilson, "any student can quickly find the books he wishes." Indeed, learning to use the library was essential for "when once the resources of a library … are revealed to a student, he will realize the truth of what Thomas Carlyle says, that the true University of these days, is a collection of books and all education is to teach us how to read."

A builder at work

Mabel Zoe Wilson came at a time when, as she later expressed it, "being a builder was the psychology," and her determined application of this principle caused the library to grow rapidly during the next few years. To accommodate the school’s expanding curriculum, there were large additions of books in the areas of history, including "Far Eastern" history, English studies, and the philosophy of education. During 1904/05, a substantial collection of books about the Northwest was added. The reference collection steadily expanded to include many encyclopedias, dictionaries, and "world’s best" collections of essays, literature, and orations.

By June 1905, the Annual Catalogue boasted of a library of 6,000 volumes, 1,000 public documents (secured, according to a reminiscence of the time, "through the kindness of a congressman named Jones"), and "several hundred" pamphlets. Supplementary resources included a picture file containing hand-copied "India ink enlargements of the tiny pictures in the back of unabridged dictionaries." Improvements were made to the library environment as well. "The walls are now a dark green," approved The Messenger in April-May 1905, "which is certainly restful to the eye."

Miss Wilson continued to astonish by the pace of her work. In December 1905, The Messenger marveled that "the Librarian has catalogued almost a thousand new books since the beginning of the school year." More space for the result of her efforts had clearly become an important need by this time, and in 1906, the library shifted the periodicals collection into an adjacent office offered by a faculty member. In 1907, an office at the opposite end was added to the facility to house the reference collection and circulation department. Then, two recitation rooms at either end became available and archways were cut into the dividing walls. By 1909, the library filled the entire length of its floor in the main building.

Mabel Zoe Wilson, said by a contemporary to be "jolly both in and out of the library," was popular with the students, despite her devotion to rules of order and behavior. "She has a merry wit, she’s clever too—but woe to her whose books are overdue!" cheerfully rhymed The Messenger in May 1908. Students admired her for working in the library during vacations and engaging continually in "the study of library methods," as in 1906, when she visited the libraries of the Leland Stanford University in California.

In December 1908, The Messenger confirmed that Miss Wilson was "spending a year’s leave of absence in Albany, in the Albany Library School." Founded by Melvil Dewey at Columbia University in 1887 and re-located to the New York State Public Library at Albany when Dewey became State Librarian, the School was the most selective and rigorous of the country’s few professional library schools. There, Miss Wilson earned a Bachelor’s in Library Science, the typical professional degree of the day, returning to the Normal in September 1909, at a salary of $90 per month.

In her absence, the library was managed by Miss Ethel P. Revelle, a graduate of the class of 1908, and grew to over 8,000 volumes. By this time, the library fee provided about $1,500 yearly which was "divided pro rata among the various departments, the aim being to keep the library properly balanced by strengthening the weak departments." Donations also continued to be an important source of new materials. In July 1909, Col. John B. Vliet, a former resident of Eastsound, presented the library with a large collection of materials relating to his native state, Wisconsin.

Making distinctions

The library now employed more staff, who were paid at varying rates of $3-$10 per month, but it was not until its Biennial Report to the Governor of December 1910 that the Normal requested funding for a second librarian. The appropriation for 1911/13 permitted the hiring in 1912 of Effie Sands, a graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University who had completed graduate work in library science at the University of Illinois.

By this time, possibly due to the influence of Miss Wilson’s recent professional training, the Normal library differed in important ways from most academic libraries of the day. In particular, there were "open stacks" and fines had been abolished, as had the limit on the number of books that students could check out. In an essay for The Messenger of April 1912, exhorting students to use their library responsibly, she emphasized these distinctions:

"Name all of the big universities you can think of. If you go to any of them, you will find that the shelves are not open to students. I have visited most of the large university libraries in the United States, and I did not find a single instance where the librarian placed the books between himself and the exit of the library, as is done here. A larger per cent of the universities do not allow "Reserved books" to leave the library. Many normal schools do not circulate any of their books outside of the libraries. Very few libraries permit their borrowers to consult, at will, files of magazines or pamphlets. Very few libraries allow students to have books without limit as to number. You will never enjoy another library where you can’t pay fines."

In a subsequent essay, she noted that students could easily avail themselves of library instruction, either by a joining a class taught by a librarian, or by using a manual, "the preparation of which was based on questions asked by students during many years." The six sources of information with which each student should be familiar, she advised, included the card catalog, general encyclopedias, encyclopedias on special subjects, magazine indexes, the pamphlet index, and bibliographies either published separately or included in textbooks or other sources.

"Do not try to become proficient in one day or in one year," Miss Wilson suggested, "but make a beginning. Your sure reward will be a saving of time and energy, an added feeling of power, a closer touch with books, and a keener joy in all literature; for you will ultimately have in your hand the key that daily unlocks new treasures that would have forever remained behind closed doors."

"In the building line we are in need of a library"

As the 1914/15 year began, the School had a new leader, Dr. George W. Nash, the first to have the title of President, and the library contained 14,000 volumes, a remarkable expansion since its first days. From 1,000 to 1,200 volumes were added annually and these were beginning to include "the best editions of the authors, in some instances reprints of first editions." "A fine collection of art books" was also being created. The magazine list included vocational titles like Boston Cooking School Magazine and Northwest Poultry, many teachers’ and pedagogy magazines, such as Journal of Educational Psychology and Elementary School Teacher, and "leading current magazines … of general interest," including McClure’s, Scribner’s, and Harper’s Weekly. For the November Messenger, Miss Wilson contributed a list of library books, all written within the last fifteen years, along with current magazine articles, to help students "get at the causes of the European war."

In December 1914, her column noted that "the Library is beginning to purchase excellent editions of the complete works of the best authors," including Jane Austen, Dickens, Emerson, Goethe, Shakespeare, Thackeray, and Twain. The following February, she reported that "one of the most important book orders of the year was sent from the library this month," including titles in biography, criticism, letters, drama, and poetry from English literature of the 15th to the 19th centuries. In 1916, the library gained a second assistant librarian, Elizabeth Mottman, a graduate of the Normal, and in 1917, Gladys Stephen was the first staff member to be specifically assigned to cataloging.

"We are nearing the 15,000 mark," Miss Wilson wrote in The Messenger of October 1915, with "one hundred twenty-five magazines with which we are all familiar, or should be, and five daily papers." To further promote library use, she posted on the library bulletin board titles of books considered "the best of a certain group." Often, she added vital facts such as that "the students of only a few institutions of higher education have as free access to reference books" as students at the Normal, and that "the use of books by students has increased to over sixteen times as great as that four years ago."

By 1916, the library facility was feeling the effects of years of sustained growth. Growth space created by completion of the annexes to the main building in 1902 and 1907 was completely filled. Space was so limited that backfiles of periodicals were stored in an airless, unlit attic, library instruction was carried out in the auditorium rather than in the library, and "the Librarian’s office was a chair and a desk behind a bookcase." The Library of Children’s Literature, established in 1905 and now numbering about 1,000 volumes "wandered through five different rooms in the building" before settling into an available room on the floor below the library, where the library’s cataloging department also had to be located.

In May 1916, The Messenger reported that the Board had presented a plan for "extensive improvements to the school plant," including an auditorium building which would also house a library to accommodate 500 students. The Board report of the following year again noted that "in the building line we are in need of a library," especially in anticipation of enrollment increases "when the institution returns to its normal condition" following the war.

The students emphatically agreed. The Weekly Messenger of January 27, 1917, reprinted a report from the local American-Reveille describing a library where "desks are crowded to accommodate 150 students at one time, and every day there are hours when more than 300 students are clamoring for books and a place to write. The cases for the books are crowded so closely together that a fat person has no chance whatever in circulating among them. … The hubbub created in the Normal library is next to the noise in a boiler room."

As the war persisted during the next few years, no progress was made towards a new library. In 1917, the Board did take note of the library’s war effort. "The Library has collected books for the soldiers’ camps to the number of 1,000" and "a shelf of new books, magazines, and pamphlets relating to the war is kept on display continually. There is also a display, changed every week and kept up to date, of food bulletins, posters, pictures, pamphlets, magazine articles, and even substitute food materials." Miss Wilson, The Weekly Messenger reported in March 1918, "has a service flag all her own." In January 1919, she was at Camp Lewis, near Tacoma, assisting in organizing the camp library of 52,000 volumes.

The influenza outbreak of 1918/19 caused severe disruptions in the lives of the students as well as in school routine, including a closure of six weeks’ duration during the fall quarter. Female students, who largely relied on the community for housing and work, were particularly hard-hit. "It required a brave heart," the Dean of Women reported to the President in January 1919, "not to think that all was lost." Two of the many women students living on their own or in housekeeping arrangements, and thus exposed to "loneliness, overwork, and incorrect habits of living," were placed in the library as "student-helpers."

As the institution returned to normal during the 1919/20 school year, the library offered over 22,000 volumes of books and 150 periodical subscriptions. A steady rate of acquisitions now approaching 2,500 per year, as well as increasing enrollment, continued to push the library’s capacity to the breaking point. By 1922, the average attendance per hour in the library was 400 students. The staff, now consisting of the Mabel Zoe Wilson, one cataloger, two circulation desk assistants, a stenographer, and three student assistants, was hard pressed to operate efficiently.

In her background report for the 1921/23 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Miss Wilson summarized the outstanding deficiencies: "(1) No floor space not occupied; (2) Over half of the library not lighted; (3) Ventilation impossible, because of crowds of students; (4) No aisles between tables; (5) Only one aisle in which people can pass; (6) No private office for librarian’s work or consultations; (7) Students study under strain because chairs can be placed NOWHERE except between cases and back to back."

In her estimation, stack space for 75,000 books was required along with a reading room with a minimum capacity of 400 students, and a periodicals storeroom for 1,000 titles. The library also needed an office for the librarian, a large assembly room for library instruction, conference rooms, workrooms for cataloging and repair/receiving, more lavatories, a separate area for the circulation desk, and space for the juvenile library capable of housing 5,000 volumes and seating 100. 

Building "the student’s workshop"

With the arrival of President Charles H. Fisher in July 1923, following the brief tenure of Dr. Dwight B. Waldo, Miss Wilson’s case for a new library facility gained an important and effective adherent. On February 18, 1924, the Board authorized Fisher "to secure the services of a competent architect to plan the Normal School for its growth for the next twenty-five years."

Fisher retained the Seattle architectural firm of Bebb & Gould, responsible for several recent buildings at the University of Washington, most notably the spectacular, Gothic-style Suzzallo Library. By April, the architects had submitted their "General Plan Showing Present Conditions and Future Extensions" of the "Washington State Normal School." A prominent feature of the plan was the quadrangle created by the existing main building/annex complex, Edens Hall to the north, a proposed auditorium building on the Bay side, and a new library at the south end.

On December 1, 1924, the Board unanimously agreed to the final adoption of the plan. However, due to prevailing political and economic uncertainties, it decided that funding would be sought for only one building at a time and that the first such request would be "for an appropriation for the erection of a library." As preliminary plans were needed in order to estimate costs, the Board unanimously agreed to the further employment of Bebb & Gould as architects of the library, conditioned upon actual approval of a suitable appropriation of funds in the upcoming legislative session.

The preliminary plan produced an estimate of $250,000, which was requested in the legislative session of January 1925. The effort was unsuccessful, although $30,000 was appropriated for the purchase of land for a library building. And, as President Fisher reported to the Board on February 23, 1925, even this partial victory was conditional. Governor Roland H. Hartley, an ardent proponent of tax reduction as well as higher education reform, preferred that this money not be spent "until his proposed survey of the state institutions showed that this expenditure would be justified."

Undaunted, President Fisher persisted. At the Board meeting on March 17, 1925, he "expressed the opinion that in view of the special session of the Legislature in November, that it was not too early for the Board of Trustees to take a position regarding a request for a library building." The Board agreed "that the same request for $250,000 for a library building should be made at the special session," and went on record as standing behind Bebb & Gould’s preliminary plan.

There was strong support for the project among local legislators. "I favor an appropriation for a new library at the Normal School," declared Whatcom County Senator E. J. Cleary, newly elected president pro-tem of the Senate, in The Weekly Messenger of January 15. "We have there one of the finest libraries in the country and no place to house it." The school was given even more reason to hope when the Governor himself made a visit to the campus that summer. He pronounced himself very favorably impressed, The Weekly Messenger reported with some relief on July 3, and "spoke highly of this Normal."

In his message to the special session called for November 9, 1925, the Governor specifically exempted the Normal from his general curtailment on appropriations to the colleges. "I further recommend," he instructed, "that there be no general fund appropriations for new buildings, except for a library at the Bellingham State Normal." He also approved at long last the regular session’s appropriation of $30,000 for the purchase of land for the new structure. President Fisher was cautiously optimistic, although in The Weekly Messenger of December 18, he did express concern that the full amount of $250,000 might not be obtained. In the end, Governor Hartley’s good will proved transitory, for on December 24, he vetoed the entire general fund appropriation for the higher education institutions, including the appropriation for the Normal School library.

Hope restored

Happily, on January 6, 1926, the legislature overrode the veto. On January 21, President Fisher was able to inform the Board that the supplementary appropriations bill provided $180,000 "for the main unit of a library building and equipment." Although short of the full amount requested, there was an "understanding," he asserted, between himself and the legislature "that additional appropriation is to be made to complete the building." All in all, the news was sufficiently positive that the Board agreed that the President should proceed to ascertain the prices acceptable to the owners of nearby properties desired as the site of the new library.

At its meeting on February 4, 1926, the Board resolved to acquire "as part of the grounds for said Normal School and specifically for a library site," a group of lots lying about 200 yards to the south and west of the Training School annex, all located in Block 2 of the George A. Jenkins Addition to Whatcom. The matter proceeded slowly, as court action was necessary to effect the purchase and condemnation of some of the lots. One owner, Charles A. Heberden, "insisted he should have $15,000 for his property" which the Board felt was "altogether too high." The case proceeded to trial in the Superior Court of Whatcom County, where Judge E. E. Hardin awarded Mr. Heberden $14,000. By April 1, however, the land purchases were completed. On June 18, The Weekly Messenger reported that the preliminary work of clearing and grading of the site was accomplished.

Further progress was impossible, however, as the Board had been told on April 22 that Governor Hartley deemed that enactment of the $180,000 appropriation for the Normal library building was "irregular." The impasse was not bridged until late Fall, when the Governor stated to the Board on November 30 that since "there had been a Supreme Court decision affecting the supplemental appropriations of the special session of 1925, the supplemental appropriations for the Bellingham State Normal School were now available." Immediately, the Board resolved "that Bebb & Gould, architects, should proceed at once to draw up working plans for the Library building."

Bebb & Gould’s library

On December 31, 1926, the Board entered into an Agreement with Charles H. Bebb and Carl F. Gould for full professional services "to erect a library building on the Normal School Campus in Bellingham." F. Stanley Piper, a Bellingham architect, was contracted to be the local supervisor of the work. Construction was expected to start by February 1927, although the timing was dependent on the construction of a new street, Cedar Street, without which the library project could not proceed. By December 10, excavation of the site was underway and on January 7, 1927, The Weekly Messenger reported that construction would start within three or four weeks,

The redbrick library structure envisioned by Bebb & Gould was intended to complement the Romanesque Revival-style main building in overall appearance. But the architects, plainly evoking McKim, Mead, and White’s italianate Boston Public Library of 1888, introduced Renaissance arches and columns at the first floor level. With a small, slightly projecting main entry, the building’s chief exterior feature would be large, arched windows placed high on the second level to both fully capture indirect light and provide extensive area for wrought iron and stained glass ornamentation. The elegant colonnades originally depicted at each end of the structure were never built.

The architect planned an interior space organized on the main floor around a decorated entrance hall and grand central staircase. The stairs would lead up to the terrazzo-floored "delivery hall" outside the splendid, high-ceiling reading room running the entire length of the second floor. This impressive space would accommodate 300 readers and 20,000 books. Overall capacity of the building would be 100,000 volumes with seating for 500, affording ample space for collections, library users, and staff for at least the next twenty-five years. Moreover, it was to be the first completely fireproof building constructed on the campus.

President Fisher’s "understanding" with the legislature that it would produce additional funds for the project finally bore fruit in March 1927. An appropriation of $80,000 was made "for the completion of Library Building and equipment," bringing the total amount appropriated to $260,000. In addition, $2,400 was allocated to cover deficits in the purchase of land for the library site. A confident President declared in The Weekly Messenger of March 18 that "the building should be finished and ready for occupancy by January 1, 1928."

On April 21, 1927, the Board awarded the major contracts for construction and fittings of the new library, selecting C. F. Martin of Seattle as the general contractor. Successful local contractors included A. J. Blythe for plumbing and F. M. Haskell for heating and ventilation. The total amount awarded, $188,746, was much lower than expected, according to The Weekly Messenger of April 29. The Board immediately called on Mr. Martin to advise on the possible use of "common brick" manufactured by the Monroe Reformatory, to which he saw no objection. On May 6, 1927, The Weekly Messenger included a photo of the ritual removal of the "first scoopful of dirt."

Whether Mabel Zoe Wilson worked directly with the architects is not known, but the final layout of services and collections surely reflected her wishes. In a contribution to The Weekly Messenger of August 12, 1927, titled "Visiting the New Library with Miss Wilson," she offered "a little tour, using our imaginations to see things as they will look when finished." She describes the plan of the first floor, with the Reserve Book room immediately to the left of the entrance, and the Library of Children’s Literature to the right. Beyond these will be found a study room for the faculty, student-teachers, and pupils of the training school, a picture library, "an exhibition of text books," and a separate reading room "equipped especially for faculty." From this area, a short corridor will lead to the book stacks in the southeast corner of the building, comprising "four steel tiers, each capable of holding 32,000 volumes."

Ascending to the second floor, the visitor will enter the "main delivery hall" featuring high on the south wall, "one of the most beautiful windows in the whole Northwest." To the right will be found the main charging desk and directly opposite, the card catalog, fronting a compact arrangement of offices, including the Librarian’s office, and workrooms. But, "we delay no longer," she leads on, "and enter the main reading room. It is forty-two by one hundred fifty feet, or as large as the old main library plus the hallway." The ceiling is more than thirty feet high and "richly decorated with colorful designs and with cross beams."

The colors, Miss Wilson notes, "were adopted because of their restfulness and quiet conduciveness for study." The built-in oak bookcases here contain about 25,000 volumes and "it is praiseworthy to note that the books themselves are, after all, the most decorative effect of this room." The new library, she concludes, "is the student’s workshop. With these new facilities of beauty and utility it is hoped that students may double and magnify their creative work."

On August 25, 1927, Board chairman W. D. Kirkpatrick lay the cornerstone of the new building in a small ceremony featuring an address by George Allez, former student body president and student employee of the library. By the start of the 1927/28 school year, construction was far enough along to allow President Fisher to confidently declare, in The Weekly Messenger of October 7, that the library would be "as fine and finer than any normal school library in the United States." On December 8, the Board awarded contracts for furniture, cabinetwork, painting, metal book stacks, and lighting fixtures.

In February 1928, Miss Wilson and her staff were reported to be completing an inventory of the library’s collections in preparation for the transfer to the new building. This activity would also "determine the losses suffered during the twenty five years of its operation years" in order to judge whether to retain the policy of open shelves. The trend, according to the Librarian, "is toward closed shelves because of lack of co-operation on the parts of the users of the libraries. This inventory will show the extent of co-operation we have received from the students over this period of time."

"Exquisitely pleasing to the eye"

Plans were made for the dedication of the new library in early June. At the Board meeting of March 16, President Fisher reported that he had invited James I. Wyer, Director of the New York State Library, to provide the dedication address. Dr. Wyer had been director of the New York State Library School when Mabel Zoe Wilson obtained her B.L.S. there in 1909.

In preparation for the move from the old library, The Weekly Messenger of May 25 reported, no books were permitted to circulate after May 22. The students, according to the reminiscence of an alumna who took part, accomplished at least part of the actual move. Miss Wilson, she recalled, "marshaled the class of ’28 in to a single file and kept us in our positions in line while we carried books from the top floor of the right wing of the main building down and across to the new library, placing the books on the shelves in correct order. We took pride in staying in line and placing the books where she wanted them."

The dedication ceremony was held on June 5, 1928, despite the presence of some exterior scaffolding and the lack of much of the interior woodwork, as well as incomplete painting and floor polishing. Governor Roland H. Hartley was in attendance. The architects, in officially presenting the building to the Board of Trustees, noted that "it has been the objective of those primarily responsible for this structure that the entire building and every element entering into it should be a combination of beauty and utility, the one without the other would be a building without meaning and without character." The Board of the Normal, they continued, "has given to the State a Library Building in which its citizens may take justifiable pride, expressing and giving evidence of the intelligence, refinement and foresight of a progressive community unafraid of the criticisms of future generations." Dr. Wyer, in his address "Books Versus Battles," declared that the library stood "pre-eminently as a monument to the school’s veteran librarian, Miss Mabel Zoe Wilson."

Featuring a full program of prayers, speeches, and music, the ceremony concluded with an "inspection of the library building by students, faculty and guests, followed by a reception." A second open house and reception was offered to the public in the evening. Of the affair, the architect Carl Gould noted in his personal diary, "we lined up in the Main reading room to receive congratulations of a large crowd assembled from the entire countryside. The evening sun streamed across the floor & through the large windows. Splendid clouds could be seen ascending. All profuse in praise and no indication of any disapproval."

"The building is not only exquisitely pleasing to the eye in structural and artistic effects," declared The Washington Education Journal, "but manifests painstaking thought on every detail for convenience and serviceableness." The library’s beauty was so great, effused The Washingtonian, "and in such perfect conformity with its setting and future proposals, that authorities feel there is no finer public building in Washington, outside of Olympia." The reading room was a marvel. "Following the walls in an unbroken line, except for the doors on one side, are 20,000 books. Lifting the eye to the ceiling, one receives a delightful surprise in a color scheme that has taken into account the decorative aspirations of Egyptian and American Indian artists. Brilliant colors have touched the beams and the intervening spaces. In each of the large windows is a single colored panel modeled after the Aztecs. Such is the room that houses twenty-five times as many volumes as the Normal possessed shortly before Miss Wilson began."

Despite the seemingly successful conclusion of the project, President Fisher continued to closely monitor the new library’s construction details and furnishings. From the beginning, he corresponded actively with the architects on an array of issues, including the quality of the foundations, the relative merits of different types of telephone systems, and the substitution of brass for iron pipe. In September 1928, he was "very upset," Carl Gould wrote to the stonework contractor, about the outcome of a patching job on the main staircase. Shortly thereafter, he hastened to inform Charles Bebb of a crack he had discovered in the terrazzo floor in the second floor delivery hall.

In March 1929, President Fisher supervised the return of more than a hundred chairs whose finish, he felt, was "out of order," and causing the wood of the seats to split. In 1931, there was a round of correspondence aimed at discovering a chemical solution capable of removing ink stains from the stonework. More seriously, by 1932 he was repeatedly consulting with the architects concerning "penetration of the brickwork during driving rains," especially on the south side of the building, a problem that quickly became intransigent and would only be resolved by frequent application of waterproofing solutions. 

The "all-encompassing vision"

In his welcoming message to students in the October 4, 1928, issue of The Northwest Viking, the newly re-christened student paper, President Fisher noted with pleasure that "the new library has already proved to be a great asset to our school equipment." In the first year of operation, the new library was such a success that the paper was moved to conclude on August 2, 1929, that it decidedly was "a building that would have amazed those students of other days."

The glorious reading room housed the 20,000 books most closely related to the current curriculum, while the rest were accessible in the nearby, multi-level bookstacks. Students no longer had to request issues of current magazines at a desk, as these were placed in open stacks in the reserve and periodicals rooms. As for study space, The Northwest Viking boasted on October 16, 1931, "there are plenty of tables for all the students to study in the main room as well as in the other two rooms."

The dramatic increase in space also allowed the librarians to present displays and exhibits, for which there had been no spare room in the old, over-crowded facility. Early exhibits focused on "the newest things in professional literature" and accumulation and care of a personal library in1929, and in June 1930, professional books related to psychology. The librarian of children’s literature, Beatrice I. Doty, prepared many displays of children’s books, celebrating such themes as International Book Week, the Olympic Games, and recipients of the Newberry and Caldecott medals for children’s literature. Miss Wilson herself contributed several displays on the subject of selecting recreational reading.

The new facility also provided welcome new space for staff, which by 1928 had expanded to include three librarians specializing in reference, children’s literature, and cataloging, and two staff assistants. Within a few years of the move, another reference librarian and a reference librarian/cataloger were added.

Starting to instruct

With this increase in personnel, the library was able to further develop its instruction program. Since 1903, Miss Wilson had provided lectures and classes on finding and using library materials, and in 1912/13, she initiated a two-credit elective library instruction course "to give teachers a working knowledge of library methods and the use of books."

In 1916/17, this became a two-credit course required of all juniors. With the 1924/25 school year, the course was required of all freshmen. In 1936, by now titled "Library Techniques and Book Usage," the course was raised to three credits, at the behest of Miss Wilson and with the full support of President Fisher. Miss Wilson also provided non-credit "library lectures," which, according to The Western Viking of October 14, 1938, were required that year of all new students as well as those who had not had library instruction during the previous ten years. Such importance was attached to these that students were to be "excused from conflicting classes in order to attend."

In 1932/33, the library introduced the "School Librarian Course" in order to "meet a definite need in the State of Washington for training school librarians for the Elementary School and the Junior High School." Further support came to this program with the appointment to the professional staff in 1934 of Miriam B. Snow, an experienced teacher, school librarian, and library school instructor. Re-introduced in 1936/37 as the "Course for Teacher-Librarians," the program offered such courses as Library Organization & Administration and Cataloging & Classification, together with courses on children’s literature and the specific aspects of library work with children.

Growth and concern

Along with services and instructional offerings, the library’s collections too continued to grow. At the time of the move into the new building, the library included over 38,000 volumes, "6,000 files of pamphlets, 500 files of magazines," and 3,500 children’s books. Not surprisingly, the pace of acquisitions slowed between 1930/31 and 1934/35, the core years of the Depression, to about 1,000 volumes annually, or half the rate of previous years. The library focused on the reference collections, adding such essential resources as the Oxford English Dictionary and the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.

The poetry, fiction, and literary biography collections also received attention, especially after the arrival in 1933 of Dr. Arthur C. Hicks as head of the English department. Many large sets, as well as collected and multi-volume standard editions, such as the Oxford Books poetry series, were purchased during this time. The periodicals list also continued to expand and in The Northwest Viking of August 2, 1935, Miss Wilson was pleased to report that "every subject now in the four year curriculum is represented by at least one magazine."

By 1936/37, the rate of acquisitions had picked up and the library numbered 51,500 volumes in its collections, along with 13,500 pamphlets, 9,300 vertical file items, 4,500 items in the picture file, and 4,560 children’s books. The Western Viking, re-titled to better suit the new school name of Western Washington College of Education, noted on April 30, 1937, that "Miss Wilson, our college librarian, has placed an unusually large order for materials for the library." By the fall of that year, there were "17,000 books on present day curriculum, all in the main reading room."

Still, there was concern, especially on President Fisher’s part, that the years of decreased funding had affected the quality of the collections. When he was informed in the spring of 1938 by William W. Bishop, Librarian of the University of Michigan, that the Carnegie Corporation of New York was preparing to provide grants to teachers colleges for the purchase of "books of value to undergraduates," he was eager to participate.

The Carnegie grant

Starting in 1928, the Carnegie Corporation undertook a series of projects to aid American college libraries. Four-year liberal arts college libraries were the first to receive grants, followed by junior college libraries. In 1938, heeding the pleas of the needy four-year teachers colleges, the Corporation commissioned an in-depth study of over fifty such institutions that amply documented the sorry state of their libraries. Eventually, the list was narrowed to thirty-one eligible institutions, including Western Washington College of Education. The grants available, up to $9,000 per institution, were to be used to supplement, rather than replace, regular library appropriations.

On May 8, 1938, Mr. Bishop, chairman of the Corporation’s advisory group on college libraries, informed Dr. Fisher that Warren Perry, Librarian of the College of Puget Sound, would visit the campus to gather information and view the library. Following his visit on May 11, Mabel Zoe Wilson provided additional information as requested, including a summary of the teaching experience of the library staff, overall circulation statistics for the school year 1936/37, and a breakdown of circulation totals by broad Dewey Decimal classification number.

On August 10, 1938, Mr. Bishop informed Dr. Fisher that WWCE was one of the institutions being considered by the advisory group. "It would help the Group greatly in making its final selection," he wrote, "if you would submit to the Chairman a program indicating how the money would be spent if a grant for the library were made available." As Miss Wilson was away on her usual summer holiday, the President had to rely on an "assistant librarian and the secretary" to draft such a program, "expressing as nearly as they could the ideas which they know the head librarian has." The "Suggested Program" they devised proposed the purchase of reference works such as general encyclopedias, dictionaries, special encyclopedias, and handbooks in several subject areas; indexes to genres such as poetry and drama; complete sets of standard authors and translations of the classics; and additions to the ‘readers’ advisory collection" of non-curricular material "to induce our students to continue their reading and study after they have completed their college course."

Sending the requested program on August 17, Fisher hastened to assure Bishop that the grant, if received, would be appropriately allocated and managed. Among Miss Wilson’s fine qualities, he attested, "there is one that is outstanding, namely the selection and purchase of material for the making of a well-rounded library." In addition, all requirements of the grant would be scrupulously followed. "From my past experience with Miss Wilson, I can assure you that the money would be wisely spent and strictly in accordance with the provisions of the grant, should it be made to us."

On December 15, 1938, the good news came. The Carnegie Corporation would appropriate $9,000 to Western Washington College of Education. "This grant," President Fisher gratefully acknowledged, "comes to us at this season of the year as a beautiful Christmas present to our College." It would serve, he went on, to "make it possible for us to put our library in first class condition through the purchase of books of permanent value for general use."

Of the twenty-nine grant recipients, Western Washington College of Education was the only one located in the Far West, and one of only eight libraries selected to receive the maximum grant of $9,000. In a letter of December 30, Warren Perry, who had evaluated the status of the library on behalf of the Corporation, let Mabel Zoe Wilson know that the advisory group had been impressed. He felt success had come "because of the many unusual features in your Library service," which he had been able to report to the group. "I thought that especially significant were the absence of any money fines and the fact that you were able to report at any time on the actual use of books for any class." Of his own college’s library, he noted "I wish we could do the same here."

All the Carnegie grants were provided in three equal installments, the first made available immediately and the others on October 1 of 1939 and 1940. Miss Wilson organized a plan to expedite expenditure of the funds. This included meeting personally with each college department, developing lists for each department’s chairman of "subjects and phases of subjects which needed to be introduced, augmented, or specialized, from the library viewpoint," and collecting ideas from the departments about "subjects which they rated as valuable correlations to the curricula." The "subjects accented most" in this process were "fine arts, literature, social sciences, science, religion, and reference books."

The Corporation’s central office in Ann Arbor, Michigan handled all purchasing details. This was intended as a safeguard for those librarians required to use centralized governmental purchasing offices, which, the Corporation had found, sometimes exerted authority over the librarians’ selection decisions. Along with other grant recipients, Miss Wilson sent numbered lists of desired titles to Ann Arbor, rather than to the College’s purchasing office or directly to publishers.

Many of the titles requested by WWCE were either out-of-stock or out-of-print, according to reports from the book agents used by the Corporation. Other, more sensational perils also interfered with order fulfillment. "We have just received advice from London by radio," advised the New York office of the G. E. Stechert & Co. agency on December 12, 1941, "that another steamer has been sunk with a shipment for us of eleven cases of books and two bales of periodicals comprising two weeks issues."

Early on in life of the grant, Miss Wilson expressed concerned about accomplishing a rapid, orderly expenditure of the funds. "I am the only member of the library staff who can assume the work of book selection," she wrote to the Corporation on June 5, 1939. By early 1942, her strenuous efforts notwithstanding, WWCE was one of the very few grant recipients still showing a substantial account balance.

On January 29, 1942, she appealed to members of the faculty to let her know immediately the title "of any set of books by an individual author, government, institution, or association which you think we ‘ought to have’ and do not." Or, she would prepare lists of authors and titles if a faculty member had in mind "that a certain ‘field’ be greatly amplified." She also strongly encouraged suggestions for reference works, especially, in accord with the Carnegie guidelines, materials geared to undergraduates. "Do you have all you need under this heading?" she asked plaintively.

By June 1, 1942, the official expiration date of the grant, the unexpended balance was down to $310, which the Corporation transferred directly to WWCE for local payment of the remaining outstanding orders. Overall, the cumulative effect of the Carnegie grant on collection statistics was dramatic. By 1943/44, when all available grant items ordered would most likely have been received, the library could claim 66,000 volumes, a thirty- percent increase over 1937/38.

A different future

In the fall of 1939, Dr. William Wade Haggard assumed the presidency of the College following the contentious dismissal of President Fisher. Despite the abrupt loss of her longtime ally, Mabel Zoe Wilson’s enthusiasm for facing new challenges seemed undiminished as she entered her fourth decade of service. In May 1940, she submitted a document to the new President summarizing the "respective work of the members of the library staff."

She also suggested a re-organization of the library operation along the lines of "definite departments, each headed by a specialist." By this time, the professional staff included three librarians in addition to Miss Wilson herself: one reference librarian (Henry Coleman, followed in 1941 by Herbert R. Hearsey), a catalog librarian (Lillian George), and the "campus school librarian" (Miriam B. Snow; formerly called the librarian for children’s literature).

In a later report, "Post War Topics We Can Work On Now," probably written in 1943, Miss Wilson presented still more issues for future consideration. These included the need for a larger budget to properly support curricular expansion and the potential difficulties posed for the library by the growing number of department libraries on campus. Organizationally, the function of the existing children’s library in the campus school system required study and a complete inventory of the collections was urgently needed, as was a system of shared book selection similar to that which had worked so well during the years of the Carnegie grant.

In focusing on the future as the difficult war years concluded, Miss Wilson seemed in tune with the administration. The College anticipated rising enrollments, as well as a broadening of the curriculum to encompass Bachelor of Arts degree programs. The Carnegie grant had significantly expanded and enriched the library’s holdings and collection growth had continued at a respectable, if somewhat diminished rate, in the years immediately following. By the start of the 1944/45 academic year, the volume count was nearing 70,000, the 1928 facility was still adequate, although students complained continually about the lighting in the main reading room, and affection and regard for Miss Wilson herself remained high, at least among the students.

Then, on April 20, 1945, came the announcement to the Board of Trustees: "the appointment of Mildred E. Herrick, M. A. in Library Science, University of Michigan, to the position of Librarian, beginning October 1, 1945, at an annual salary of thirty-four hundred ($3400.00)." The news was made available to all in the Bellingham Herald of September 30, 1945, in an article concerning new faculty at the College. Listed among these was "Miss Mildred Herrick, who comes from Swarthmore college in Pennsylvania, where she was assistant librarian, to succeed Miss Mabel Zoe Wilson, retired, as librarian."

In the end, Mabel Zoe Wilson departed with the same alacrity that marked her unheralded arrival in February 1902 and in circumstances nearly as mysterious. What is certain is that on March 3, 1945, she had attained the age of sixty-seven. In January 1945, by an agreement reached in 1940 by their Boards and Presidents, sixty-seven became the mandatory retirement age for administrative, teaching staff, and other employees of the three state Colleges of Education. Retirement was to be automatic upon reaching sixty-seven, although individual employees could be asked to continue service at the discretion of the Trustees. There is no record that the Board made such a request of Miss Wilson.

After forty-three years of service as librarian of the institution in all its incarnations, with neither fanfare nor official farewell, Mabel Zoe Wilson was gone. By the time of her retirement, she was already something of a legend. Her outstanding achievement, wresting a library into being from almost nothing, was evident for all to see. Although, as her longtime colleague Miriam Snow Mathes wrote, "her dedication to one library was total," she also made her mark on the development of library service and the library profession in Washington State and the region.

She served the Pacific Northwest Library Association in many capacities, including as President, participated in the founding of the Washington Library Association, and was active in the drive to re-codify state library laws in 1935 to include centralized county library services. An avid traveler, she attended meetings and observed libraries throughout the state and nation, and made regular trips across-country and abroad, on which she reported in the student newspaper of the day. She was famed for the extravagant parties and dinners she hosted for students and staff at downtown hotels and for flashes of sentimentality ranging from silently acknowledging staff birthdays with flowers to creating part-time jobs for war widows.

This extraordinarily complex and vigorous woman, who left such an indelible mark on the institution she served for all her professional life, was perhaps best captured by the anonymous student who wrote, in dedicating the 1939 edition of the college annual to her:

"To one who has had all-encompassing vision for future worlds and present opportunities….who, through persistent and careful effort has built up the ‘library’ within the edifice….who has sought breadth of thinking and living, and found culture….to one who frankly and unflinchingly expresses her views….who can discuss issues in deadly earnest, and exchange sallies with no slow wit….who can still find time to laugh and be gracious….to WWC’s head librarian, Miss Mabel Zoe Wilson" 

The challenges of mid-century

Mildred E. Herrick, who replaced Miss Wilson officially on October 1, 1945, was a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, with an additional B. L. S. and a M. L. S. from the University of Michigan. Her previous professional appointments had been at Swarthmore College and Yale University.

The most pressing problems to confront the new librarian after her arrival concerned the 1928 building, now beginning to show its age and limitations. By the 1947/48 academic year, the collection had reached nearly 73,000 volumes. Record enrollments had become the norm since the end of the war, and space was once again at a premium in the library. On December 19, 1947, Miss Herrick wrote to Dr. Haggard "in regard to a fourth floor of stacks which we need badly." Terrible storage conditions had developed, particularly for periodicals crammed into the lower floor of stacks "in bad condition because students keep picking them over and because water has come in and they have had to be moved up on boxes and boards to keep them dry." The second and third tiers of stacks were also full, and the reading room too was crowded. "We have started to put books on the floor," she warned, "and will have to continue to do so."

Fortunately, Bebb & Gould’s original plan for the 1928 structure had foreseen eventual expansion of the steel stacks into the fourth floor attic space and, as Miss Herrick pointed out to Dr. Haggard, "the lower floors were constructed with that idea in mind." After consultations with Bebb & Jones, as the original architectural firm was now called, the Board approved this expenditure on May 20, 1948. The project was completed by the following year and as the College celebrated its 50th anniversary, the library’s storage situation was temporarily improved.

A second hoped-for improvement was not accomplished. In March 1947, planning began for improving the overhead lighting in the main reading room, long a source of student complaints. In May, because of concerns that such a project would cause expensive damage to the painted ceiling, an alternative was tested. As an experiment, one of the long oak study tables was fitted with tabletop fluorescent fixtures and users were invited to submit comments. These were mostly favorable, but in the end neither Miss Herrick nor President Haggard found this solution acceptable.

Early in 1951, Miss Herrick declared an end to the no-fines policy established by Mabel Zoe Wilson in 1909. As reported in the Western Washington Collegian of March 16, "efforts made by the library staff to keep from introducing the fine system have been unsuccessful" and the volume of overdue materials continued to increase. Fines for overdue general circulation books were set at five cents per day and for reserve books, twenty-five cents for the first hour and ten cents per hour thereafter. Another long tradition ended in the summer of 1957, when students were required to show identification, in the form of the new Associated Student Body card, in order to check out library materials.

Paul Thiry’s wings

Late in the fall of 1954, President Haggard announced that a ten-year building program was "under consideration for the 1955-57 biennium," according to the Western Washington Collegian of December 3. In addition to at least two buildings, as well as extensive improvements to the grounds, the program would include "an addition to the library for $234,000." A long-range planning effort evolved that by mid-1957 had identified many other facilities needs including a science building, dormitories, physical education facilities, and two classroom buildings. The program, The Collegian reported on July 19, 1957, was "designed to meet the needs of the College in 1958, when it will have an enrollment of 5,000."

Funds were available for the new science building, which working drawings placed at the northwest edge of the campus, facing High Street. However, Seattle architect Paul Thiry, selected by the Board in July 1957 to design the new building, argued for locating it instead in the open area south of the existing library. "Putting the Science Building behind the Library," he maintained in The Collegian of November 8, 1957, "will develop the academic center to the utmost," preventing disorganized outward expansion of the campus. Construction of the new facility began in October 1958 on the site selected by the architect. Gone for good was the grassy plain wide enough for the school band to practice marching formations. Also gone was the library’s most straightforward option for future expansion of the building.

On July 10, 1958, Paul Thiry submitted tentative plans to the Board for enlargement of the library. At this time, the Board also authorized him to complete plans and specifications for "relighting of the Main Reading Room," as the Governor had released funds for this project. Over the Christmas break that year, the ornate, Byzantine-style ceiling lamps installed in 1928 came down, replaced by a functional, modernistic grid of suspended fluorescent tracks. If the revision did not exactly harmonize with the room’s 1920’s elegance, it at least brought "the illumination that students had been crying for," The Collegian declared approvingly on January 16, 1959.

In July 1959, the Federal Home and Housing Finance Administration approved funds for "public works plan preparation for the expansion of the library." On May 21, 1960, the Board authorized a capital outlay request to the 1961 legislature for $650,000, based on the architect’s recommendations. Following consultations with Miss Herrick that summer, Thiry completed the preliminary design drawings by the end of October.

On January 13, 1961, The Collegian reported that Thiry proposed "two wings of five floors each to be built on the ends of the current library." The revised cost estimate proposed to the legislature was $963,200. Governor Rossellini’s budget for that year failed to include the library addition, but President James L. Jarrett, who had succeeded President Haggard in September 1959, vowed "to continue to press for it," according to The Collegian of January 27, 1961. His newly appointed administrative assistant, H. A. "Barney" Goltz, confirmed that Western "would ask the Legislature to authorize … these additions to the library in accordance with our original request." The additions, Goltz explained, "would fold around" the courtyard of the new science building dedicated in December 1960 as The Haggard Hall of Science.

In early February, President Jarrett, members of the Board, and a group of faculty and administrators journeyed to Olympia to press Western’s case. Now as in 1925, support among local legislators was strong. Representative Dick Kink of Bellingham assured readers of The Collegian of February 19 that "we’re all doing the best we can and fighting as a unit regardless of political affiliation so that we get the proposed budget for Western – especially the library addition for this biennium." There was ominous talk of being able to complete only the shell of the addition, The Bellingham Herald reported on March 6, if full funding was not received.

Strong support on the Senate side, however, resulted in passage on March 31of a budget bill including $794,400 for the project, which a reluctant Governor Rossellini eventually approved. The general fund would supply the rest of the money. "$155,600 will go toward Western’s library addition," The Bellingham Herald reported on March 29, 1961, "the need for which so impressed several visiting senators six weeks ago, making a total of $950,000 for that project."

On July 7, 1961, the College entered into an Architectural Contract with Paul Thiry for professional architectural and engineering services for "Additions and Alterations to the Library Building." Newland Construction of Everett was selected as the general contractor. President Jarrett was anxious for construction to begin no later than October 1 so as to ensure completion by the fall of 1962. The library immediately began relocating parts of the collection. The children’s library was moved to the campus school building and over 1600 feet of books and periodicals, including the reserve collection, went to temporary shelving erected in Haggard Hall.

The contractors broke ground on October 31, 1961, for the construction of the two new wings at the southeast and southwest corners of the 1928 Bebb & Gould building. The exteriors of the wings, wrote the recently appointed Circulation Librarian, William H. O. Scott in The Collegian of November 17, would feature brickwork and "continuous columns of colored windows to harmonize with the architectural features of the old Library and the adjacent new Science Building," a notably undecorated, reinforced concrete structure.

Achieving operational harmony between the old and new components posed many challenges, and the disjunction of architectural styles was not to everyone’s taste, but at least the library’s square-footage would almost double. There would be space to accommodate up to 200,000 volumes along with larger, well-lit areas for study, reference work, and collection use. Mildred Herrick succinctly summed up the plan as "not one hundred percent perfect, but it’s the best we can come up with."

As Dr. Jarrett had hoped, the expanded, re-organized library was for the most part ready for the start of the 1962/63 academic year. In August 1962, the scattered collections were returned, except for the children’s library, which remained in the Campus School for the time being. By now, there were more than 95,000 volumes in the collections and the staff included seven librarians, in addition to Miss Herrick, specializing in reference, cataloging, acquisitions, circulation, and the campus school.

The new configuration of collections and services housed circulating books on the second through fourth floors of the new wings and periodicals in the original four-tier bookstacks. Reference services now operated in the former periodicals room area on the first floor, and offices, operations, and services were concentrated on the first floor and in the basement. New features included classrooms for library science, a "professional workroom" with curriculum materials for teacher-education students, a separate microfilm room, and an audio-visual center with films, projectors, and other media equipment.

The 1962 ALA survey

Earlier in 1962, President Jarrett had requested that the American Library Association (ALA) arrange for a survey of the library of Western Washington State College, as it was now known. This evaluation was suggested by the informal faculty library committee, of which Miss Herrick was a member. The survey team consisting of E. W. Erickson, head librarian at Eastern Michigan University, and LeMoyne W. Anderson, director of libraries at Colorado State University, conducted its work in May 1962. Among other conclusions, they found the library seriously understaffed, undermined to some degree by the continued existence of independent libraries in some academic departments, in need of a clarified organizational structure, and lacking in well-defined policies for budgeting and acquisitions.

In terms of resources, the surveyors reported that while the library held an acceptable percentage of titles included in standard lists of resources for similar academic libraries, its periodical holdings were inadequate for the needs of the College’s expanding curriculum and programs. They also cited profound unhappiness among faculty members who complained of "imbalance, disparity, and inequality of the book stock," as well as simple lack of essential resources.

Financial support for the library was deemed to be a critical problem, with WWSC far below comparable institutions in the region in library expenditures per student, ratio of full-time staff to enrollment, and percent of total institutional budget expended for library purposes. The surveyors also noted the increasing dissatisfaction among faculty and students alike with the library’s hours of operation, especially the traditional closures during vacations and intercessions. Perhaps most alarming, the surveyors predicted that even with the building addition then nearing completion, the facility would not accommodate the library program beyond 1970. 

The turbulent sixties

By the start of the 1963/64 academic year, Dr. Howard McGaw was appointed as Director of the Library, the first library administrator to carry this title. Dr. McGaw’s academic credentials included a B. A. from Vanderbilt University, a B. S. in Library Science and a M. A. from Peabody College, and an Ed. D. from Columbia University. He had served as library director at Memphis State College, Ohio Wesleyan University, and the University of Houston. Mildred Herrick remained a member of the library faculty until her retirement in 1969, initially in the new position of head of technical services and subsequently as a catalog librarian.

The new director organized services and operations into departments headed by specialist librarians (suggested as the way of the future by Miss Wilson in 1940), including units for reference, circulation, and technical services (acquisitions and cataloging). On January 1, 1964, he announced the decision, fully supported by President Jarrett and the faculty library committee, to convert the library’s classification system from Dewey Decimal to Library of Congress (LC). The goal was to align the library’s organization and procedures with those of most modern academic libraries, as well as to enhance service and produce efficiencies in operations such as cataloging.

Use of library materials and services rose steadily as the College’s total enrollment climbed toward 5,000. In 1963, the library had been designated as a depository for Washington State documents, and in 1964, it became a selective depository for U. S. federal documents. The extensive children’s literature collection, relocated to the campus school during the 1961/62 renovations, gradually moved back to the main facility to form the "Children’s Book Collection." And, in response to student demand, new hours were established for the reserve room, offering an 11 p. m. closing time after March 1, 1964. These many initiatives led Dr. McGaw to appoint Herbert R. Hearsey, reference librarian since 1941, as the library’s first Public Services Coordinator, to oversee the reference, circulation, and periodicals services.

On April 15, 1964, the WWSC library was officially named for Mabel Zoe Wilson, following a campaign initiated by retired teachers who enlisted the support of hundreds of Miss Wilson’s friends, former students and colleagues. A similar drive undertaken in 1932 had not succeeded, although it had the support of then-Governor Roland Hartley. This time, the Board of Trustees responded favorably and the College formally bestowed the name at ceremonies conducted during National Library Week. Many eloquent tributes were offered, including one by Dr. Arthur C. Hicks who had known and admired Miss Wilson since 1933. When these were later read to Miss Wilson, by now frail and totally blind, she replied with typical self-deprecation, "I do not recognize myself." She died a few weeks later on June 1, 1964, at the age of eighty-six.

At the same time, a new organization, The Friends of the Mabel Zoe Wilson Library, was launched, with President Jarrett’s strong support. The charter membership of 140 donated $2,500 in a demonstration of support for the library at a time of great uncertainty about increased institutional funding. The library fee required of all students since 1899, which had reached three dollars per student per quarter, was eliminated with the 1960/61 academic year. The library budget was now apportioned from the total resources obtained from the legislature by the institution.

Falling behind

In May 1964, Dr. McGaw reported to the faculty that although there had been some increases in library funding since his appointment, the percentage of total institutional resources allocated to the library continued to lag behind the six to seven percent level "urgently recommended" in 1962 by the ALA survey team. In addition, the ratio of professional and support staff to student enrollment was well below the level recommended by the State University of New York standards accepted by the State Colleges’ Joint Board of Trustees on April 18. The collection too was increasingly inadequate in terms of volume count. According to ALA standards for college libraries, WWSC’s library, with 114,000 volumes, was 95,000 volumes short of the total recommended for an institution of the College’s present enrollment.

Faculty dissatisfaction was also high. Funds for books and periodicals allocated to the departments from the library materials budget, as approved by the institutional budget advisory committee, were inadequate to support both undergraduate and graduate studies in most disciplines. The Collegian of November 20, 1964, reported on a survey of "representatives from almost every campus department" which revealed widespread concern about library resources.

Faculty members noted serious gaps in a wide range of subject areas, including statistics, international trade and economics, physics, poetry, music, engineering, and electronics. Many particularly decried the lack of vitally needed periodical titles with adequate backfiles. Asked to comment on the general view that the library was inadequate, Dr. McGaw responded "that is probably an understatement." However, H. A. "Barney" Goltz, assistant to the President, pointed out that the library’s proposed budgetary increase was "71 percent over the previous biennium."

In February 1965, the College inaugurated Dr. Harvey C. Bunke as President. By this time, prospects for improved funding for the library were dim, as the legislature had made a substantial cut in the amount requested for the 1965/67 biennium. At President Bunke’s request, Dr. McGaw submitted a report on February 11, 1965, justifying restoration of full funding by comparing WWSC’s library expenditures per student unfavorably with other "library-minded" colleges.

The budget cut was sustained, although the amount made available for library materials did represent an increase over previous years. The capital projects budget request for 1965-71 fared better, realizing $1.75 million for another substantial addition to the library, tentatively scheduled for construction after 1968. The plan was that federal grants would support about a third of the estimated cost, with the remainder to be funded by a bond issue to go before the public in November 1966.

Planning to add once more

Preliminary planning for a third major addition to the library had actually begun early in 1964. By then, it was clear that, as predicted by the ALA surveyors in 1962, significantly more space would be needed by 1970 at the latest, when enrollment was expected to reach 10,000. In addition, the Thiry wings had proven problematic. Their awkward articulation with the original building had resulted in a confusing layout of materials and services.

Aside from education-related materials, which had been re-grouped in the main reading room to form the Education Library, the collections could not be rationally distributed because of the building’s patchwork of small interior spaces. Ventilation and acoustics were poor and restroom facilities, group study space, and staff workspace were increasingly inadequate. Library users complained about being unable to see out of the narrow colored-glass windows around the new wings. Adding insult to injury, the south-projecting wings created swirling winds around the south entry door that occasionally rendered it virtually unusable, despite various attempts at creating an add-on windscreen.

In July 1965, Acting Academic Dean Thompson appointed a Library Addition Program Committee, to include Dr. McGaw, with Dr. Alan Ross as chair. The Committee met throughout 1965/66 to consider such issues as the future of the library as a centralized facility, the impact of new formats such as microfilm and audio-visual media, the relationship of enrollments to acquisitions and numbers of staff, and future space allocations for library collections, services, and operations. In May 1966, the Committee agreed that the College should retain Ralph E. Ellsworth, a nationally known library consultant, to assist in the planning process.

Meanwhile, the library continued to struggle with inadequate and inflexible space, the seemingly endless reclassification project, and too few staff to support either effective processing of new materials or proper maintenance of existing collections. During 1965/66, much time was devoted to planning and implementing an "IBM 357 Data Collection System" for automating circulation functions, replacing the existing Gaylord charging system installed in the 1950s. Though it offered enticing efficiencies in the future, in the short term this initiative produced a mighty workload involving keypunching 80-column, computer-readable paper cards for each circulating volume, along with a keypunched library card for each user.

In July 1966, Dr. McGaw implemented an administrative reorganization of the library in an attempt to clarify reportage and division of responsibilities. Herbert R. Hearsey was named to the new post of associate director of general administration, to include the reference, documents, and education/curriculum departments. William H. O. Scott assumed the post of associate director of data processing, with responsibilities for acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, and periodicals services. The professional staff now numbered eleven, in addition to the director, and included specialists in education, reference, acquisitions, and cataloging. Raymond G. McInnis was among the new additions to the professional staff at this time.

The new library addition moved closer to realization with the passage in November 1966 of "Referendum 15," which provided $40 million to finance urgently needed buildings at state institutions. WWSC was to receive nearly $3 million, of which about $1.2 million was slated for the library project. Federal government grants would provide the remainder of the estimated $1.75 million cost. On February 9, 1967, the Board of Trustees selected Fred Bassetti & Company of Seattle to design the project. Bassetti had previously designed the Student Union and Humanities buildings as well as the award-winning Ridgeway dormitory complex. The Board requested a planning budget and other recommendations for "a central library to serve projected requirements for various enrollment levels of up to 15,000 students."

The centralization debate

The purposeful emphasis on a "central library," as opposed to a smaller facility with satellite or branch libraries reflected the recent campus debates concerning library centralization. An accreditation team visiting the campus in 1959 had noted the existence of ten independent departmental libraries containing a total of 7,000 volumes. In 1960, the faculty library committee appointed by President Jarrett had strongly recommended "one central library as a depository for all college owned books, periodicals, newspapers, and other library items." Despite this, "quasi-official departmental libraries" remained and grew, as noted in the 1962 ALA report, whose authors strongly advised WWSC to "decide whether it can and wishes to support a decentralized library system or whether it should concentrate its efforts on a strong central library."

In response, President Jarrett notified the faculty in September 1962 that "all books purchased with college funds are to be cataloged and shelved as part of the main library collection." Additionally, departments were to transfer their collections to the main library, with the exception of the music department. The education department was also granted an exception for its library of curriculum materials, but opted to transfer this collection to the main library in 1964. In July 1965, the Academic Dean reiterated Dr. Jarrett’s policy to all department chairs. In January 1966, the faculty library committee proposed a more comprehensive and detailed policy statement to the Dean’s Advisory Council. This was subsequently modified to permit departments to purchase and maintain certain library-type materials. Failure to resolve key issues led to then-Academic Dean Charles J. Flora’s appointment of Dr. James H. Hitchman to negotiate a final formulation of the policy.

A sticking point for many faculty was the perceived inability of the library to act quickly on acquisitions requests, leading departments to order directly so as to have materials at hand when needed. The library committee, chaired by Dr. William Bender, continued to be concerned about loss of library control of college resources. The compromise permitted departments to order some types of materials, but mandated that copies of the purchase orders be sent to the library, "so that the Library will have a record of all Library Materials, exceptional or otherwise." Rather than explicitly endorsing "one central library," the policy stated more generally that "a library centralization policy leads to optimal satisfaction of all concerned."

The policy permitted departments to purchase from their supply budgets and retain on their premises "certain exceptional library materials … without the cognizance of the Wilson Library." It was "expected that such exceptions will be few." Further, the libraries of the new "satellite colleges," such as Fairhaven, were to be self-controlled but contain only paperbacks and basic reference materials such as dictionaries. With President Bunke’s approval, Dean Flora distributed the final version of the policy to the faculty on February 7, 1967. In January 1968, then-President Flora authorized the creation of a library in the new Math-Physics-Computer Science Building by special exception to the centralization policy, and journals in those subject areas were transferred there from Wilson Library. No further exceptions were to be considered.

Focus on library science

Old questions also re-emerged at this time concerning the library’s instructional program, in part because it represented a potential space-assignment problem for the new addition. The program had a long history, starting in 1916/17 with the introduction of a required library usage and skills course. In addition, since 1932/33, the library had offered a program to prepare school librarians. In 1960/61, the library skills requirement was eliminated and a department of library science created under the auspices of the library, with the library director serving as chair.

The new department offered Library Science 125: Library Research, an elective course in basic library usage and techniques, as well as the full range of courses formerly included in the Program for Teacher Librarians. These courses provided the content and credits necessary to meet state requirements for school librarians as well as a major and minors in various levels of school librarianship. The library also continued to provide instructors for the education department’s research class, Education 501, first offered in 1950/51.

In 1962, the ALA survey team recommended "that the program of library science be removed from the administration of the library and transferred to the Department of Education." On May 3, 1963, the library faculty requested at least a year’s continuance of the status quo. The issue rested until 1966, when Academic Dean Flora appointed an ad-hoc Library Study Committee, chaired by Dr. R. D. Brown, to examine the issue as part of a comprehensive review of the overall library program. In responding to the committee, the library faculty most engaged in teaching argued that the program merited expansion, fresh leadership, and more faculty.

In its report to Dean Flora of December 2, 1966, the study committee agreed that the program was presently inadequate for state needs as well as inadequately staffed. It also recognized that an opportunity existed for WWSC to establish a larger presence in an expanding professional field, perhaps eventually offering the Master’s in Library Science degree. To this end, the committee recommended that library science be made an independent department no later than September 1969.

In the meantime, the committee recommended, the program should be removed "administratively and budgetarily" from the library and placed for a two-year period under the auspices of the education department while suitable personnel were sought to staff and direct it. The Academic Council accepted the report and on January 24, 1967, President Bunke approved implementation of the recommendations. Beginning with the 1967/68 academic year, "Library Science" constituted "an instructional unit attached to the Department of Education," whose courses were taught by members of the library faculty.

The status of librarians

The Board of Trustees had officially applied professorial status to librarians in 1949, including the long-retired Mabel Zoe Wilson, who was granted emeritus professor status on May 20, 1949. In the years following, librarians were evaluated for promotion and tenure according to the criteria used for all faculty. The 1962 ALA survey report in fact commended WWSC "for its forward-looking policy of granting academic status with professional rank to qualified library staff members."

Nonetheless, in response to a recommendation from a committee headed by Dr. James Hildebrand, President Jarrett proposed in 1962/63 that the library faculty be reclassified. He suggested a scheme whereby the librarians would not lose faculty rights and privileges, but would be ranked as Librarian I, II, III, etc., and promoted and tenured according to criteria specific to the actual work of librarians.

President Jarrett’s proposal was not implemented and the situation remained unchanged until his successor, President Bunke, wrote to Academic Dean Flora about the matter on February 23, 1966. He stated that it had come to his attention "that there is a certain amount of ambiguity relative to the standards that should be used in assessing the professional staff in the Library." He urged the appointment of a committee to "review the status of librarians at this time." In a follow-up memo of February 28, he suggested that professorial rank be accorded only to those librarians with teaching assignments equivalent to at least half time. Those teaching less than half time would have the status of "librarian."

Dean Flora expressed agreement, but the faculty senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Library Personnel, chaired by Dr. Charles Harwood, proceeded to investigate the larger issues. Although finding that a majority of WWSC’s librarians rejected the concepts of separate rank and criteria, the committee recommended in March 1967 that such a system be devised. Once it was developed, individual librarians might be given a choice of remaining with the present system or moving to the new one. The faculty council did not act on this recommendation and, for the time being, professorial rank and the all-university evaluation criteria continued to apply to WWSC’s librarians.

More needs than dollars

Throughout the debates, actions, and reactions concerning these important topics, Dr. McGaw continued to make the case for significantly increased budgetary support for the library. Responding in August 1966 to a survey of the state’s four-year higher education libraries, he estimated that nearly $1,000,000 would be needed to "bring the library collection up to a level that would support adequately [WWSC’s] present program of instruction and research." In his budget request for 1967/69, he noted that WWSC’s volume count was over 90,000 short of meeting the standard set by the California State Colleges formula, adopted in May 1966 as a budget preparation guideline by the directors of the three state college libraries.

The Dean of Graduate Studies had reported to President Bunke in 1965 that evaluators reviewing the College’s proposals for Master’s degree programs consistently emphasized the need for improving library resources. Dr. McGaw estimated that at least 1,200 more subscriptions should be added to support such programs. In addition, the library needed more than a dozen new professional positions in order even to approach national averages for college and university libraries. In its biennial budget estimate for 1965/67, the College acknowledged that it did not meet "any recognized standard of library holdings" and that "improvements in the library must have a high priority in budget planning." Still, the percentage of total institutional expenditures for library purposes remained well below the six to seven percent level "urgently recommended" by the 1962 ALA survey.

On December 1, 1966, Dr. McGaw submitted his "Long-range Plan for the Wilson Library," noting first and foremost the imminence of the much needed addition to the building. He also cited developments in computerization, including the upcoming implementation in January 1967 of the IBM-based circulation system. An education librarian had been added to the professional staff in 1966, providing long-needed specialist support in a major subject area. Less happily, the reclassification project begun in 1964 was still stalled and worse, the library continued to fall far short of both expectations and national standards in total volumes and holdings of periodicals. Despite some increases in budget, there were continually more needs than dollars.

On April 10, 1967, Dean Flora informed library personnel and department chairs that Dr. McGaw had "requested that he be relieved of the library directorship effective September 1967." He would "continue at Western as a faculty member in Library Science," a position he would hold until his retirement in 1979.

Before the announcement, on April 6, 1967, Dean Flora had recommended to President Bunke that the position of "Associate Director of the Library" be officially created and also that the position of "Director of the Library" be filled by someone "not necessarily schooled in library science." Further, he suggested that Herbert R. Hearsey, the current associate librarian, be named associate director and that Dr. W. Robert Lawyer, associate professor of English be named acting director. He recommended a search committee, chaired by Dr. Carol Diers, and that the committee seek candidates able to commence employment on September 1, 1968.

On April 13, 1967, the Board approved the appointment of Dr. Lawyer as Acting Director of the Library, effective September 1. On July 21, the Board designated Dean Flora as Acting President following the departure of President Bunke. Dr. R. D. Brown became Academic Dean. On December 4, 1967, Dean Brown informed President Flora that the Library Director Selection Committee, after reviewing twenty applications from across the country and closely considering five finalists, had recommended to him that Dr. Lawyer be made the permanent director. 

"Our A-1 priority is the library"

On January 11, 1968, the Board approved the appointment of Dr. W. Robert Lawyer (B. A., Ph. D, University of Washington) as director of the library, effective January 12. On July 11, the Board recognized the promotion of Herbert R. Hearsey as associate director of the library. In November 1968, Dr. Charles J. "Jerry" Flora was inaugurated as the College’s eighth President.

Planning for the library addition had continued at a steady pace even during this intense period of upheaval and institutional change. In late 1966, library consultant Ralph Ellsworth, who was retained in May and visited the campus in August, submitted several recommendations. "The basic problem here," he stated in his Memo on the Library Addition Program of October 28, 1966, "turns out be one of suggesting a way of adding space on to the existing building so that it will serve as a satisfactory library."

The Thiry addition, Ellsworth felt, had compounded rather than mitigated many of the problems of the original building, especially as collections grew and library organization and operations changed, along with the needs of library users. "The present building might be described," he wrote, "as an automobile with a 1925 motor in a 1908 chassis trying to run on a 1966 freeway." After reviewing the well-known weaknesses of the existing interior layout, and proposing alternative solutions, he suggested that only a "high-rise addition" on the south side "would permit, with a minimum of expenditure … a way of organizing the building so that it would work well as a library."

By February 9, 1967, when the Board selected Fred Bassetti as the project’s architect, Dr. McGaw had prepared extensive estimates of the library’s future space requirements based on projected enrollments, accessions, and staff. The detailed statistical summaries he forwarded to the architect on March 22 were based on the assumption that the new addition would be limited to 75,000 square feet. The planners, however, soon developed the notion of a phased approach to expansion related to enrollment projections. On May 16, 1967, campus planning director H. A. "Barney" Goltz distributed Bassetti’s guidelines for architectural planning of the library addition. These described projects, at the "present location if at all possible," providing 142,000 square feet of space in three phases keyed to student enrollments of 8, 10, and 15,000.

On July 21, 1967, the Board adopted the new three-phase site development plan for expanding the library. The architect stated that his design aims were "in summary, to provide for more students and faculty, to correct present deficiencies and to create a character which encourages student involvement, a building that is more than a study hall or a repository of books, a building that lives."

The Bassetti Addition

By late 1968, Fred Bassetti had developed the shape and form of the addition, based on the concept of completely surrounding the Thiry wings. "It was recognized that the additions would require further unification of architectural styles presented by the original building, the Thiry Addition, and the proposed additions," wrote campus planning director H. A. "Barney" Goltz on November 22, 1968, to one of the state’s senior architects. "It is for … these reasons that the Bassetti Additions completely envelope the Thiry Addition." Although the actual building extensions beyond the Thiry wings were to be only just over eight feet on the west side and just under seven feet on the east side, the planned "multiple floor increases in these extensions creates a substantial amount of usable space in the building."

The library staff continued planning future use of interior space. Attaining seating capacity close to the ALA-recommended figure of 25% of student enrollment (as opposed to the current 14%) was an important goal, as was shelving capacity sufficient for the anticipated acquisition of 50,000 volumes by 1973. Planning options increased in January 1968, when Dean Brown advised that planning for the forthcoming psychology-education building (Miller Hall) would include the library science program, then still housed in the library although administratively part of the education department.

Also, it was decided by May 1969 that music books and journals would eventually move from the main library to the "Music Auditorium addition" then under development. The music department had maintained a library of scores and music education materials since 1951. The relocation of all music materials to the main library had been briefly considered, and discarded, in 1967. The space to be made available due to these decisions became the subject of discussions about creating an "educational media disbursal center or service center in the library."

The passage of Referendum 15 assured the funding necessary for Phase I of the library addition. In the legislative session of 1969, funding for Phase II seemed certain as both the senate’s and governor’s budgets included the requested $1.2 million. In March 1969, the College notified the state that for reasons of economy and efficiency, it wished to combine phases I and II into a single project in order to achieve an immediate rather than staged increase of nearly 90,000 square feet of space. This was accepted and the appropriation repackaged to include $2.5 million in state funds along with $626,000 in federal funds. On June 25, 1970, on recommendation of Fred Bassetti, the Board accepted the bid of Cawdry and Vemo Construction Company of Seattle "for construction of the Library Addition, Phases I and II."

Even before the start of construction in the summer of 1970, campus and library planners had turned to their attention to Phase III of the library addition, which the Board had authorized on April 16, 1970. On June 1, the Library Building Program Committee chaired by Dr. Lawyer was reconstituted to include associate director Herbert R. Hearsey and the library’s two new administrators, Robert J. Cross, assistant director for public services and Dan Mather, assistant director for technical services.

As originally conceived by the architect, Phase III was to add another 64,000 square feet by pushing the east and west wings northward, with the western extension to be roughly twice the size of the eastern. It would permit completion of the fifth floor of the east wing, which had been eliminated from the combined Phase I and II stage due to cost overruns. Additional Phase III enhancements included a large archives/special collections room and service area, graduate and faculty reading rooms, refurbishment of the grandiose 1928 main reading room, and "an efficient Education Media center."

Phase III, the College explained in its $2 million-plus capital project estimate, was "planned to be the terminal major construction for the Wilson Library facility." Upon its completion, the library would be "an esthetically attractive, functional, centrally located library capable of serving 15,000 students and housing 500,000 volumes." Although the College submitted it as a priority budget item, the 1971 legislature funded Phase III at just $369,000. This amount was sufficient only to complete the combined Phase I-II project in an effort that came to be known as "Phase II b." Spaces where the education media center and other special collections and services might have been housed were finished instead as regular book stack areas. On the fifth floor, a small media center consisting of viewing and listening stations was installed and a more modest archives/special collections area established,

The Bassetti addition to the Wilson Library was substantially completed in the spring of 1972. Dedication ceremonies took place on November 4, 1972, with Senator Warren G. Magnuson giving the dedication address. Overall, the addition increased the area of the library by over 90,000 square feet and the working capacity of the library for the purposes of shelving collections to 350,000 volumes. The library also gained the "library presentation room," an 80 seat auditorium outfitted for media presentations.

The new, dramatic exterior featured the same type of brick facade and clay tile roof that characterized Bebb & Gould’s elegant 1928 building. In addition, ground floor arcades and sculptural window hoods and bays complemented the design features of nearby buildings constructed around "Red Square," the University’s central academic plaza. The library building had been restored as the "focal point of academic and architectural aspects of the college."

"We can now say we have a collection"

In arguing for funds to immediately construct Phase III after completion of Phase I-II, the College frequently cited a critical need for more space to house rapidly expanding collections. Purposeful build-up of the collection had begun in 1967 with the advent of Dr. Charles J. Flora as President and Dr. W. Robert Lawyer as library director and showed no signs of stopping. In the Flora-Lawyer combination, the College had a team that would more than match the historic pairing of Charles H. Fisher and Mabel Zoe Wilson in its ambition to propel the library forward.

As early as January 1968, the evaluation committee for the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools observed significant improvement over previous years. According to projections, about 20,000 volumes would be added in 1967/68 alone, contrasting sharply with increases of 9,000 volumes annually during the previous six years. In 1967, the state introduced a formula system for allocating funds to various higher education programs, including the state college libraries, which considerably increased the amount available for acquisitions. "For the first time," Dr. Lawyer wrote, "the state legislature was able to see the [state] college libraries in relation to the universities’ [libraries] and [was] able to recognize that the colleges deserved greater support."

In January 1968, the library initiated the English Language Approval Program (ELAP) offered by the Richard Abel Company, an academic book agency, which provided weekly shipments of hundreds of new monographs to be selected on-site for addition to the collections. The program also provided catalog cards for the titles selected, streamlining local processing of the new acquisitions. When it appeared that regular acquisitions funds could not keep up with the program, President Flora assured the availability of other funds. "Our A-1 priority must continue to be the library," he wrote in June 1969. The library also actively sought federal grants "to purchase certain scholarly works at optimum times despite unavailability of regular funds." By the end of 1969, grant funds had facilitated the purchase of standard works in political science and psychology, major resources in foreign language literatures, and microform editions of early newspapers, primary resources, and research reports.

Starting in 1970/7l, the funds available for acquisitions rose to nearly $400,000 per year.

The number of volumes added yearly continued to exceed 20,000, raising the library’s holdings close to the quarter-million mark by the end of 1971/72. Subscriptions too increased significantly. There were now 3,900 subscriptions, Dr. Lawyer reported to President Flora on January 13, 1972, compared to just 900 in 1964. Successive years of generous materials budgets enabled the library to overcome many of its former weaknesses. "We can now say we have a collection," Dr. Lawyer wrote in his annual report for 1975/76. "It is not fat, it is only barely adequate, but we do have a collection."

The library made progress in several other areas during the 1970s. The reclassification project, nearly moribund after its auspicious start in 1964, was revived in 1975/76, resulting in the conversion over the next few years of large backlogs of literature, history, music, and education volumes from the Dewey Decimal to the Library of Congress classification system. Starting in 1974, all remaining music books and scores still housed in Wilson Library were transferred to the Music Library in the Music Building and full cataloging along with a complete, separate card catalog, was provided for all Music Library resources.

The 12,000 volume School Library Collection, formerly known as the Campus School Library and housed within the Education Library since completion of the Thiry Addition, was re-organized, re-cataloged, and re-named the Children’s Literature Collection in time for an institutional accreditation in 1978. Wilson Library was made a depository for Canadian government publications in 1977/78, enhancing the public documents collections which had included Washington State publications since 1963 and U. S. federal documents since 1964. And, in 1978/79, the library implemented the 3M "Tattle-Tape" book security system.

A tribute and a warning

The report of the 1978 Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation evaluation team took note of the tremendous progress made by the library of Western Washington University, as the institution was now known. "The university has earned good commendation for the years of good financial support for the acquisition of books and other materials for the library. The acquisitions program is noteworthy, and the favorable statements in the self-study indicating strong book collections are fully justified. … The campus does not appear to have shortcomings in the library … at this time. … This situation is a tribute to the university, and the services are appreciated assets for the students and faculty."

On the other hand, the evaluators observed, "with the steady growth of the various collections, space is no longer generous." By 1977/78, the library housed 378,000 volumes, exceeding the projected 350,000 volume capacity of the Phase I-II Bassetti Addition. The collection growth rate was by now averaging about 24,000 volumes per year, Dr. Lawyer wrote to University planning officer H. A. "Barney" Goltz on October 20, 1977, and "in some stack areas we are at 100% of capacity." The long-delayed Phase III was needed very soon for, if the current acquisitions rate was sustained, "we will have a collection of just under 700,000 volumes in 1988."

The effort to achieve Phase III did not succeed, but funding was obtained in 1978/79 for the installation of additional bookstacks and some building alternations in areas housing media collections. Associate director for public services Robert Cross directed the creation of an enhanced special collections department on the fifth floor to house the library archives, campus history, rare book, and microform collections, and non-book materials such as recordings and kits. The Education Library, which had occupied the fifth floor since completion of the Bassetti Addition, moved to the west end of the second floor.

In 1975, Dr. Paul J. Olscamp succeeded Dr. Charles J. Flora as President of the University. Although administrative support for the library continued to be strong, the library was not exempt from the reductions that became commonplace as the decade proceeded. During 1974/75, reduced funding for acquisitions caused the library to discontinue the full English Language Approval Program which had contributed so significantly to collection development and growth since 1968. The reduced version implemented in its place quickly proved inadequate for the needs of departments requiring costlier materials, particularly the sciences, provoking renewed concerns about collection imbalance. Interlibrary loan requests also rose steeply at this time, indicating growing gaps in key areas.

A series of state-mandated budget cuts in the early 1980s further eroded the library’s ability to sustain the momentum of the previous years. For a decade and a half, Dr. Lawyer wrote to the university budget committee on June 28, 1982, "the Wilson Library administration has been sacrificing many things in the interests of one: building a collection." Among other sacrifices, the library had not increased its faculty and staff proportionate to the rapid growth of collections, services, and student enrollment. By 1971, only two librarians had been added to the library’s faculty since 1966 and six staff positions had been lost. The library had also opted to delay development of electronic resources and services in order to proportionately "put more of our dollars into acquisitions than any other university in the state."

Budget restorations during some of these years curtailed serious damage, enabling the library to maintain basic services and acceptable opening hours. But the impact of hiring freezes, rising materials costs, inflation, and greatly reduced options for further building alterations promised stern challenges for the library’s management in the years to come. In addition, institutional governance changes begun in the 1970s had altered the library’s historically direct working relationship with the President.

In July 1982, President Olscamp departed and in January 1983, the Board announced the appointment of his successor, Dr. G. Robert Ross. On August 29, 1983, Dr. W. Robert Lawyer, who had led the library through the heady years of dramatically expanded facilities, collections, and services, announced his retirement effective July 1, 1984. 

New horizons in all directions

On April 11, 1984, the University announced the appointment of Diane C. Parker, director of the Science and Engineering Library at the State University of New York at Buffalo, to succeed Dr. Lawyer. Selected following a nationwide search, Mrs. Parker’s academic credentials included a B. A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a M. L. S. from the University of Washington. As director of libraries at WWU, she also assumed responsibility for Educational Media Services, which had been administered by the library since 1970, and the University’s Public Records Center.

Among the difficult issues to immediately confront the new director was the familiar problem of growth space. By 1984/85, the situation had once more become acute. The library’s holdings of nearly 400,000 books together with rapidly growing accumulations of periodicals and government documents badly stressed the building’s capacities. Restraining collection growth was clearly not an option. The comprehensive collection development policy completed under the new director’s leadership in January 1986 identified many areas where more materials were needed to meet the needs of the University’s evolving curriculum and programs.

Various analyses, however, estimated that working capacity (86% full) of the current shelving configuration would be exceeded by mid-1987, based on even comparatively modest collection growth rates. The University’s facilities plan for 1985-91 included the possibility of library storage space in Edens Hall, scheduled for remodeling, but there was little enthusiasm for this in the library. Another alternative was replacement of print journal runs with microform versions in order to increase available shelving. In a special arrangement with University Microfilms, this was briefly tried with specific titles in the sciences, but quickly found to be very unpopular with library users.

On September 3, 1987, the Board of Trustees approved a $527,000 project for capital improvements in the library to alleviate the potential crisis. "High density mobile storage," more commonly called compact shelving, was installed in two basement areas while additional conventional shelving was installed on all other floors. The government documents collections and service area were moved from the east end of the fourth floor to the east end of the first floor, and science and technology reference materials and periodicals were concentrated on the west end of the fourth floor, where a science reference service area was also created. Taken together, these projects provided an estimated five years of growth space.

Pressure on the budget

In the area of budget, the state’s formula-based budget model for providing library resources, in use since 1967, was eliminated in 1982/83. Subsequently, library funding per biennium was provided on the basis of previous biennium’s base budget allocation adjusted for future needs according to various measures. This approach proved problematic due to the many external factors affecting the library’s purchasing power at this time. These included sharp, unpredictable increases in the prices of academic materials and several consecutive years of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates. In addition to these difficulties, a growing percentage of the acquisitions budget (83% in 1985/86) was committed to subscriptions. With probability high that expenditures for subscriptions would soon exceed the entire acquisitions budget, the library in mid-1985 proposed a control mechanism in the form of an acquisitions budget distribution formula based on the work of acquisitions librarian Donna Packer, with contributions by the library faculty, and the faculty senate Library & Media Services Committee.

In September 1986, Vice President/Provost Paul Ford appointed the University-wide Ad Hoc Library Acquisitions Allocation Committee (LAAC) chaired by Graduate Dean Sam Kelly to resolve differing ideas about such a plan and propose a workable model. Provost Ford approved the Committee’s recommendation in March 1987. The plan allocated specific percentages of available acquisitions funds to each of the various disciplines as well as a variable percentage to the library for the purchase of cross-disciplinary resources such as indexes. An ongoing committee, the Library Advisory Committee (LAC), was established to both advise the Provost and director of libraries and monitor and assess the allocation plan.

Faculty issues and opportunities

At the end of 1985, the library faculty was once again presented with an opportunity to resolve many of the issues surrounding their status. This came in the form of an invitation to prepare a governance document for publication in a revised edition of the University’s faculty handbook, to join the existing governance documents representing the faculties of the separate colleges. The last consideration of faculty status issues had taken place more than a decade before, when on February 10, 1972, the University’s faculty council asked Dr. Lawyer "to form a committee of librarians to develop criteria for evaluation of individuals within the library."

The library faculty committee devised a set of standards for the hiring, retention, tenure, and promotion of library faculty complete with titles to complement the suggested ranks. Although in the end the standards were not accepted by the council, all library faculty were assigned appropriate professorial rank as an outcome of the process, and a procedure for peer evaluation was approved. The new governance document developed by the library faculty during 1986-87 detailed ranks, criteria for retention, promotion, and tenure, and re-iterated the peer review procedures developed in 1972. Accepted by the faculty senate in May 1987 and approved by the Board of Trustees on June 1, 1987, it was included in the faculty handbook for the first time with the edition of 1987.

Under Mrs. Parker’s leadership, the library faculty actively sought opportunities to form partnerships with other libraries in the region. The Whatcom County Librarians Group, created in 1984, provided a forum for communication between library professionals in the region. More significantly, the University’s librarians pursued Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) grants to fund cooperative projects enabling local libraries to share information about resources and services. The Whatcom County Union List of Serials, funded by a grant obtained by acquisitions/serials librarian Donna Packer in 1985 was the first-ever joint project involving all the country’s libraries. In 1986, social sciences librarian Raymond G. McInnis received an LSCA grant to support the library’s participation in the Washington State Library’s telefacsimile network, an early effort at electronic resource sharing. In 1990-91, humanities librarian Dal Symes and government documents librarian Robert Lopresti obtained LSCA grants to develop union lists of videos and law materials in Whatcom County libraries.

Other successful grants at this time funded library initiatives in electronic resources assessment and collection development. Online services coordinator Dana Johnson received an LSCA grant in 1987 to test the usefulness of LaserCat, a bibliographic database on CD-ROM, for services such as reference and interlibrary loan. In 1990, acquisitions/serials librarian Donna Packer authored a successful $55,000 U. S. Department of Education grant to support cataloging of the library’s extensive collection of Mongolian language materials, begun in the 1970s with material donated by Dr. Henry Schwarz of the history department. In 1991, the University’s diversity fund subcommittee provided a grant that enabled the library to prepare ethnic studies research guides for student use as well as purchase books and videos for an ongoing diversity materials display collection.

The faculty also moved to recapture lost ground in the area of library instruction. In 1967/68, the library science program originally developed by the library was transferred to the education department. By the late 1980s, the program offered only one elective library instruction course, Library Science 125--Library Orientation, which was no longer taught by librarians. In 1987, the library faculty formed a bibliographic instruction committee charged with assessing the need and likely content for an elective credit course offered by the library. Following in-depth studies of student needs, faculty expectations, and curriculum models, the committee developed a two-credit, 200-level, elective course. Approved by the University’s academic coordinating commission in March 1991, and offered for the first time during summer quarter 1991, Library 201--Introduction to Library Strategies, was the first credit course to be provided directly by the library since 1959.

The automation imperative

The single most pressing challenge for the library in the mid-1980s was responding to the growing imperative to more fully automate operations and services. Although in 1986, the University’s long range plan emphasized the need for the library to be "continuously improved" in part by the "incorporation of new storage and retrieval technology," no actual plans, proposals, or funds had directly addressed this goal. At this time, the library’s only fully computerized operation was the still functional but increasingly fragile IBM-based, 80-column punched-card circulation system implemented in 1967 and last upgraded in 1979/80.

Working with the University’s Computer Center in the late 1970s, the library had partially computerized additional functions in key support areas. A computer-based fiscal control system for subscriptions and an online library accounting system, both designed at this time by associate director for technical services Dan Mather, provided up-to-date information essential for budgeting. Some book ordering was completed using an electronic system provided in 1977/78 by the library’s major book vendor, Blackwell North America (successor to the Richard Abel Company). In 1979/80, the Computer Center was able to use the abbreviated data maintained by the IBM-based circulation system to produce a microfiche list of library holdings in accession and call number sequence, and a program had been implemented to gather information on items that did not circulate.

In the area of reference services, education librarian Enid Haag and science librarian Kathy Haselbauer offered searching of such large databases as Dialog and BRS using a Texas Instruments "silent 700" terminal. Office personnel and social sciences librarian Raymond G. McInnis ventured into word processing using a Tarbell console. In 1984, head of cataloging Marian Alexander directed the transition from largely manual cataloging processes to automated processes using the RLIN (Research Library Information Network) online bibliographic utility. Information about materials added to Western’s collections after 1984 was available online to RLIN participants around the world. But the bibliographic records for material acquired before this time remained inaccessible by electronic means. Moreover, the main mechanism for accessing the library’s holding continued to be the card catalogs in Wilson Library and the Music Library.

Starting in 1986, Mrs. Parker launched an aggressive effort to address the library’s inadequacies in the area of automation. Dana Johnson, the library’s first online services-electronic resources specialist, joined the faculty that year and directed a systematic assessment of online system development requirements, costs, and potential vendors. This effort led to a request in March 1988 for funding to purchase hardware, software, and services for the implementation of a fully integrated "library information system" or "LIS." Despite strong support from the University administration, the legislature did not approve funding for the project in the 1989/91 biennial budget. New urgency, however, was added to the search for an integrated system solution when the University’s Systems and Computing division announced plans to phase out equipment supporting the IBM circulation system. After working closely with consultant Joseph Ford to clarify needs and costs, the library submitted a second funding proposal in May 1990. In August, the proposal was supported by a feasibility study prepared by Dr. Mel Davidson, Director of Systems and Computing.

On November 1, 1990, the state’s Department of Information Services recommended approval of funding for Western’s library information system, noting that the University had "identified the acquisition of an automated library information system (LIS) as an important business objective for the next biennium." Funding for the project was approved for the 1991/93 biennium and in April and September 1991, the library prepared revised cost projections in preparation for proceeding with the project. Soon, however, it became necessary for the University to use the LIS allocation to meet the overall reductions called for by the state in the institution’s 1991/93 budget.

Despite this setback, institutional support remained strong, and in the Strategic Action Guidelines approved by the Board of Trustees on December 6, 1991, the University reaffirmed its commitment to automating the library. Early the following year, with the support of President Kenneth P. Mortimer, who had assumed the leadership in June 1988 following the tragic death of President Ross, Provost Roland L. DeLorme announced that the effort was back on track. "Despite the necessity of using state appropriated dollars, which had been earmarked for a Library Information System, to meet the expected cut," he wrote on January 17, 1992, "I have found and set aside one-time-only dollars to replace those funds. The Library Information System project will begin this year."

During 1992, the Provost’s Library Resources Advisory Committee reviewed priorities and evaluated options with the assistance of Rob McGee of RMG Consultants, a nationally known library automation consultant. In September, the Committee completed a five-year automation plan for information resources. RMG Consultants was then engaged to assist the library in developing and evaluating proposals for the services and products needed to implement a fully integrated library system. Starting in 1993, a massive retrospective conversion effort created electronic catalog records to replace card catalog entries, while periodical titles in the collections were cataloged for the first time, supported by a $94,000 Library Services and Construction Act grant obtained by head of cataloging Karen Rice.

Also in 1993, the search began for an integrated library system vendor, culminating in the selection of Innovative Interfaces, Inc., in mid-1994. Following signing of the contract in August, the library worked with Innovative and Library Technologies, Inc., to complete processing of electronic catalog records for its collection of nearly 500,000 titles. At the same time, essential upgrading of the library’s electrical and telecommunications infrastructure began. The Library Information System Steering Committee, consisting of Vice Provost for Information & Telecommunications Jerry Boles, special assistant to the President/Provost John Havland, and selected library personnel managed the budgeting and implementation of the project.

While work on the library information system proceeded, other electronic resources projects were also underway. In 1992, the government documents division made government information received on CD-ROM disks available on its "Docbase" system, created by government documents Librarian Robert Lopresti assisted by online services coordinator Peter Smith. In mid-1988, the library had installed multiple computers to access the CD-ROM version of InfoTrac, the Information Access Company’s computerized periodical indexing service, and in 1989, the education library introduced the ERIC database on CD-ROM. In 1993, Provost DeLorme allocated special funds to the library for automation projects. This permitted installation of a Local Area Network (LAN) in the main reference area offering multiple-user access to a number of databases on CD-ROM. In the technical support area, the library implemented a stand-alone REMO serials control system in 1990/91, followed in 1992 by a LAN-based MATSS acquisitions system.

Re-making space and looking for more

Major facilities upgrade projects also occupied the library at this time. During the spring and summer of 1991, an asbestos removal and renovation project in the Music Library resulted in expanded space for offices, storage, and collections. Wilson Library too was identified as a priority for asbestos abatement during a campus-wide building survey conducted in November. Of primary concern was the commonly used asbestos-based "popcorn" type surfacing applied to ceilings during the construction of the Thiry Addition in 1961/62. In August 1992, the University received state funding for the Wilson Library asbestos abatement and electrical upgrade project, which began in June 1993.

By this time, the library’s holdings had grown to include nearly 600,000 volumes of books and periodicals, about half a million government publications, large collections of microforms and other non-book materials, and a growing array of electronic resources. Typically, academic libraries required new facilities every fifteen years when most reached maximum working capacity for storing materials, Mrs. Parker reported to the Campus Master Planning Committee on October 24, 1990. "Wilson Library," she noted, "reached this point in 1987, right on schedule," following the 1972 addition. In addition to limited capacity for more collection growth, the library was able to provide seating for only 14% of the current enrollment, far short of the national standard of 25%. "There are many hours when the library is congested to the point where students find seating for themselves on the floor," she observed.

The most obvious option for library expansion at this time was Haggard Hall, home of science departments since its construction in 1958/59. The Paul Thiry-designed building immediately south of the library was scheduled to be vacated following completion in the mid-1990s of three new science facilities at the south edge of the campus core. With the operational life of the library building clearly coming to an end, the University began to include library space in preliminary planning concepts for the renovation of Haggard Hall. Planning funds were obtained in the 1991/93 biennial budget and the architectural firm of McLellan & Copenhagen retained in early 1992 to prepare a pre-design report.

From the outset, the University envisioned Haggard Hall as a shared facility housing several programs, services, and general university classrooms. The pre-design report of July 1, 1992, placed expansion space for the library on only the first floor of Haggard Hall and suggested an underground link with the existing library building’s basement level to facilitate library operations. A budget evaluation study team (BEST) value engineering study conducted in October by the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) suggested that library expansion could be accommodated in Haggard Hall without the inter-building link. Meanwhile, detailed studies prepared primarily by library administrative staff member Rick Osen showed that limiting library space to the first floor would provide only a few years of growth space while a primary goal of the project was to provide twenty years of growth space for the library. .

The University obtained design funds in its 1993/95 biennial budget and in August 1993, retained library building consultant Philip Leighton. In October, the Board of Trustees awarded the architectural contract for the project to the Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF), the Seattle-based firm which had designed the University’s new biology and science education facilities. In January 1994, Philip Leighton recommended that the library’s current and future space needs would best be met by the upper two floors of Haggard Hall, plus an element physically connecting the two buildings. In re-evaluating the project, the University concurred that the library should be allocated more area in Haggard Hall and in August 1994, requested this revision of its plan, along with increased funding to accomplish it.

A second facilities project related to the library was also underway at this time. Following state approval in 1989, a new northwest regional building for the Washington State Archives was constructed at the south edge of Western’s campus. The University secured space in the new building for the rapidly expanding University Archives and Records Center, housed for years in the nearly commissary building. Established in 1974 as a support service for campus offices, The Records Center reported to the library director who, in a joint role as public records officer, directed the management of the University’s records according to state statutes. The new facility, also home to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, was dedicated on August 5, 1993, as the Goltz-Murray building, in honor of former campus planning officer and state legislator H. A. "Barney" Goltz and longtime Western history professor Keith A. Murray.

Cooperating, budgeting, organizing, communicating

The early 1990s were also important years for the library in terms of re-establishing a presence in statewide cooperative initiatives. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the library had contributed information about its holdings to the joint regional card catalog maintained by the Pacific Northwest Bibliographic Center (PNBC), housed at the University of Washington. In the days preceding online catalogs, PNBC served as a clearinghouse for resource sharing transactions between its members. But the emerging online bibliographic databases, particularly Ohio-based OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) and RLIN (Research Library Information Network) at the national level, and the Washington Library Network (later known officially as "WLN") at the regional level rapidly supplanted services such as PNBC by making their participants’ holdings information available electronically.

As the result of several cost analyses in the 1970s and 1980s, the library had elected not to join the Washington Library Network despite considerable pressure to do so during the time that WLN was a state-supported agency. RLIN, the bibliographic database it did join in 1984, was national in scope but included very few libraries in the Northwest. The continuing lack of an online catalog at a time when other academic libraries in the region were rapidly automating further contributed to the library’s electronic isolation.

By late 1992, however, the development of Western’s library information system was at last underway. Also, since 1987 the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) had strongly favored the funding of resource sharing efforts rather than local collection building as a way to curtail state expenditure on libraries. At the Inter-Institutional Meeting on Academic Information Resources, held at the University on November 2, 1992, Western’s Provost Roland H. DeLorme proposed the development of an up-to-date model for cooperation between the state’s six public higher education institutions. The goal was to enhance resource sharing through effective exploitation of the new information technologies.

The Inter-institutional Committee of Chief Librarians (ICCL) of the public higher education libraries incorporated this concept into its Strategic Plan for Cooperative Library Resources and Services 1993-1997, developed the following year. In November 1993, the Inter-institutional Committee of Chief Academic Officers (ICAO), chaired by Provost DeLorme, endorsed the ICCL plan. Provost DeLorme was instrumental in persuading the Council of Presidents (COP) of the six institutions to adopt the plan, which came to be called the Cooperative Library Project (CLP), as a priority for its upcoming legislative agenda. In mid-1994, with COP assistance, Mrs. Parker and her fellow directors began preparing a request for funding from the upcoming 1995 state supplemental budget.

Also in 1992, Inter-institutional Committee of Chief Librarians (ICCL) agreed to implement reciprocal borrowing privileges to support distance education initiatives. Under the terms of the agreement signed on June 5, 1992, students enrolled in the off-campus programs of any of the six participating institutions became eligible to borrow materials at all six libraries. An ICCL Reciprocal Borrowing Card was created and distributed to off-campus program students for use starting in 1992/93.

Locally, acquisitions funding continued to be a source of concern. Not surprisingly, the 1987 acquisitions allocation plan developed by the Provost’s Library Acquisitions Advisory Committee (LAAC) had not proved a complete solution, especially in the face of rising materials costs and inflation. The University had periodically been able to provide library resource inflation costs not funded in base budget allocations as well as special funds for targeted areas of the collection. In 1993, for instance, a special allocation of $25,000 purchased critically needed monographs in the humanities and social sciences. The most intractable problem confronting the ongoing Library Advisory Committee (LAC), however, continued to be the high percentage of the acquisitions budget, now annually exceeding $1 million, committed to subscriptions.

In March 1992, Provost DeLorme had advised LAC’s chair of his desire to re-establish "a linkage with the faculty governance structure" for the purpose of managing both acquisitions resources and "policy issues as they relate to the library system." The revival in 1993 of a library committee of the faculty senate seemed to offer this possibility. After receiving LAC’s suggested revisions to the 1987 allocation plan in mid-1994, Provost DeLorme disbanded the committee amid expectation that the new Faculty Senate Library Committee might assume its advisory and monitoring role.

As the University welcomed Dr. Karen W. Morse as its twelfth president in 1993, the library concluded a number of administrative changes begun early in the decade. Starting in 1991, the director of libraries was no longer responsible for Media Services following the assignment of this unit to the new office of Vice Provost for Information & Telecommunications. Internally, the library under Mrs. Parker’s direction had become steadily less hierarchical and on August 18, 1992, she implemented a re-organization creating three major operational divisions called access services, reference & instructional services, and technical services.

By 1994, there were about forty permanent library staff and eleven library faculty including the director. At the outset of Mrs. Parker’s tenure in 1984, there were forty-six permanent staff and fourteen faculty. Two faculty positions were lost in the budget reduction of 1991/93, while one was re-allocated to Media Services in 1988 following the incumbent’s retirement. On a more positive note, the library faculty gained representation on the faculty senate and academic coordinating commission, and librarians served regularly on other University committees, task forces, and policy-making groups.

The library also made progress in the area of both internal and external communications. Mrs. Parker had begun a weekly library faculty-staff newsletter/bulletin in 1984, and Imprint: Newsletter of the Western Libraries, edited by head of technical services Marian Alexander was distributed twice-yearly to faculty, administrators, and courtesy/community card holders starting in 1988. In addition, the library faculty published several editions of a comprehensive Library Manual for Faculty starting in 1987.

Although the retirement in 1987 of librarian W. H. O. Scott ended the book-of-the-quarter program he had created after twenty-five years, the library briefly continued a similar effort to promote extracurricular reading. From 1989-1991, the "summer reading program," co-sponsored with Media Services and the Student Co-op Store, annually promoted a selection of six books recommended by selected University faculty members. 

Automation, cooperation, space exploration

On September 30, 1994, Mrs. Parker stepped down as director of libraries and accepted a special assignment with Academic Technology & User Services (ATUS) to participate in the External Information Resources Development Project. She returned to the library in 1996 and later became collection development coordinator.

Provost DeLorme appointed Marian Alexander to serve as acting director and acting university records officer effective October 19, 1994. A member of the library faculty since 1970, Alexander held a B. A. from Occidental College and a M. L. S. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and had served most recently as head of technical service following appointments as serials librarian and head of cataloging.

In October 1994, Provost DeLorme appointed a special Task Force on the Future of the Libraries to inform the search for a permanent University librarian, as the position was now to be called, by defining the challenges facing the library in the next ten years. The Task Force report of December 12, 1994, emphasized the need for the library to effectively assimilate and anticipate technological developments, integrate into the undergraduate curriculum, and meet the needs of diverse uses. In particular, the Task Force noted the need for the library "to develop a mission statement and strategic plan that meshes with that of the University."

The library information system and the Western Card

As the search progressed, the most urgent task before acting director Alexander was to fully implement the library information system by the target date of opening day, fall quarter 1995. This complex undertaking was accomplished in a series of closely coordinated stages involving all components of the library’s operations as well as all of its personnel. Throughout the fall of 1994, essential database preparation work proceeded, culminating in the merger of electronic catalog records accumulated in three separate bibliographic utilities, OCLC, RLIN, and WLN. Extensive electrical and telecommunications upgrades throughout the building continued, and the first group of computers to support the system was installed in December.

In January 1995, the test version of the new computerized catalog went online. Barcoding of the collections began in January and culminated on June 16, with a full day of barcoding by the staff of all the material remaining on the library’s shelves that had not yet been barcoded. In February 1995, computers were installed in staff areas and during March-April public access workstations were set up in reference areas throughout the library. In April, the library’s cataloging operations switched over to the Innovative Interfaces cataloging module, and in June 1995, computers replaced the main card catalog on the first floor of Wilson Library. The catalog begun by Mabel Zoe Wilson in 1902 and by now containing almost 3 million cards, was retired to storage and the cabinets, still containing their cards, were later sold.

By early summer 1995, circulation functions were operational and online catalog users could see instantly updated information about circulation transactions. By mid-June, the online catalog database was complete and by fall it included on-order information about new purchases and information about subscription titles. Implementation of the full array of system components continued, including modules for management of reserves, serials operations, and acquisitions, along with intensive staff training. Network and dial-up access to the library information system began in September 1995.

By the target date, thirty-seven public access computers were available in Wilson Library and the Music Library, and over fifty computers had been installed to support operations and services including acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, reserve, and reference. On October 5, 1995, the University held a reception and open house in Wilson Library to officially celebrate the successful, on-time implementation of its first online, integrated library information system.

Simultaneous with development of the library information system, the University launched the Western Card Program. Since 1967, when the library installed its IBM-based circulation system, the separate card required to borrow library materials had become the de facto campus ID card. Other cards developed, however, for services such as housing and dining and prepaid copying. The Western Card plan, which involved library personnel starting in 1993, aimed to create a single, multi-purpose, official identification and transaction card for students, faculty, and staff to replace the existing library card and all other cards.

Introduced in July 1995, the Western Card, with photo-ID, encodable data stripes, and barcode for library use, severed at long last the library’s sole remaining link with the punched-card technology of the 1960s. The library also introduced a new barcoded courtesy/community card for persons and groups affiliated with the University and for individuals paying an annual fee for borrowing privileges.

Upgrading the old, designing the new

In addition to modifications needed to implement the library information system, the Western Card, and Cooperative Library Project, other facilities projects continued in the library throughout 1994/95. The historic north door of Wilson Library, closed as the result of a budget reduction in 1989, was re-opened in April 1995 following installation of a new security system. Library users could once more experience the historic, wrought iron outer entry doors, designed by Homer Mathes, son of the institution’s first president.

The asbestos abatement and electrical upgrade project begun in June 1993 resulted in a number of improvements completed during 1994/95, including fresh paint, new carpets, seismic upgrades, and a new smoke detector-fire alarm system. A single drawback of the two-year project was the modest decrease in total shelving capacity caused by the widening of some aisles between bookstacks to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, some lesser-used material, including the remaining collections of science, technology, and law books still in the Dewey Decimal classification, were stored in the University’s commissary building.

One of the project’s most welcome benefits was the installation of new lighting in some of the older areas of the building, including the north door foyer. In the summer of 1995, Paul Thiry’s 1960s fluorescent grid came down from the ceiling of the historic main reading room, replaced by suspended fixtures more in keeping with the room’s period atmosphere. Shelf lighting was also installed and the long oak study tables, in place since 1928, gained the tabletop study lights first contemplated in 1947.

Throughout 1994/95, the planning process for expansion of the library into nearby Haggard Hall continued. In October 1994, a second BEST Value Engineering study conducted by the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) supported consolidation of library space on the second and third floors and the need for a connective element joining Haggard Hall with Wilson Library at the second rather than ground level. On December 1, 1994, the Board of Trustees was informed that on the basis of the BEST Study recommendations, OFM would support an increase in the University’s funding request from $17,800,00 to $22,200,000. Construction funds were obtained in the University’s 1995/97 biennial budget.

The ZGF/Leighton final programming report of July 7, 1995 detailed the layout of library space within Haggard Hall and in the area where it would join the existing library building. A key feature of the recommended configuration was the grouping on the same level of essential services, including reference and circulation, near the two ends of the connector. In fall 1995, the design development phase began, during which several changes were made following consultation with the Board of Trustees, including reducing the width of the connective element, increasing the width of the walkway between the buildings at ground level, and placement of the main entry stair in Haggard Hall space. On February 9, 1996, the Board was informed that construction would proceed in two phases. Hazardous materials abatement and interior demolition would first take place within Haggard Hall, followed by renovation and construction of the connector to Wilson Library.

Wilson Library too was the focus of an intense planning effort that began during 1995/96. After the upcoming expansion, Wilson would continue to house collections and services not accommodated in Haggard Hall, but the major renovations of 1961/62 and 1970/72 had seriously fragmented the building’s interior spaces. ZGF was retained to prepare the pre-design report for a renovation of Wilson Library which, the Board instructed on April 13, 1995, should "create a unified library concept in Haggard Hall and Wilson Library." The report, completed in July 1996 with extensive input from library personnel, recommended a streamlined arrangement of spaces for departments and collections in Wilson Library specifically organized to complement and work efficiently with the proposed array of services and resources in Haggard Hall.

The Wilson Library pre-design also included a badly needed storage area for music materials. Since its beginnings as a departmental collection in the 1950s, the Music Library had grown rapidly, especially following the appointment in 1969 of Western’s first music librarian, Marian Ritter. By the mid-1990s, the cataloged collections included over 20,000 scores, 10,000 books about music, 10,000 LP records, 4,500 compact discs, and large collections of video recordings, audiocassettes, music education materials, and unprocessed materials of all kinds acquired principally through donation. An active Friends of the Music Library group founded in 1988 provided support for acquisitions and services, organized events, and facilitated gifts to the library.

Successive reviews by accrediting bodies had consistently echoed the 1984 assessment by the National Association of Schools of Music that found Western’s music library "one of the best Music Library operations … observed at any comparable institution." In April 1998, music librarian Marian Ritter received a Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award in recognition of the music library’s services to the local cultural and music education communities.

Resource and organizational development

As planning for the various facilities expansion projects continued throughout 1995/96, development of electronic resources in the library accelerated. In early 1996, the library information system expanded to include a range of online databases in addition to the library’s catalog. The library discontinued the Local Area Network established in 1993 to support multiple-user access to selected databases from computers in the library. In its place, a mix of networked online delivery methods was implemented, including Internet, networked CD-ROMs, and a UNIX server, accessing a selection of databases geared to broad curricular areas. Academic Technology & User Services (ATUS) and library personnel developed the library network access program in versions for Windows, DOS, and Macintosh to facilitate access to all networked LIS resources from workstations anywhere on campus. In the technical services area, the library switched to the OCLC bibliographic utility in June 1996, after more than a decade of RLIN participation.

During the summer of 1996, several facilities and service enhancement projects took place. In the Music Library, shelving was added in an effort to meet growth needs until completion of the planned storage area in the renovated Wilson Library. In Wilson Library, the loan desk was relocated to the central area of the first floor in preparation for the closing of the library’s south entrance during the Haggard Hall renovation, expected to begin in early 1997. At the same time, remodeling of the reserve room permitted early adoption of the "self-serve reserve" concept, planned for implementation in Haggard Hall, allowing users to retrieve reserve materials themselves from open shelves, rather than having to request them at a service desk.

In July 1996, the access services area began a new personal service program for faculty, created by access services head Donna Packer. This permitted University faculty to send citations for needed material directly by phone, mail, e-mail, or using the library’s new Web page created by science/technology librarian Peter Smith. Requested items available in the library’s collections were personally delivered to the faculty member’s office by library staff, who also retrieved materials ready to be returned. Interlibrary loan requests were automatically generated for items not held locally.

Organizationally, the most substantial revision to take place in mid-1996 was the unification of the library’s three separate reference service units into one unit on the first floor of Wilson Library. In establishing a unified reference area, the library achieved a cohesive reference collection and a single reference service point for the first time in nearly four decades. The merger eliminated the separate education reference unit and collection, in existence since the 1960s, and the science/technology reference unit and collection created in 1988. It also modeled the future in Haggard Hall, where a single reference service desk was planned. As part of the project, the government documents collections and service area, which had occupied the east end of the first floor since 1988, relocated to more expansive quarters on the west end of the second floor, former home of the education collections.

The Cooperative Library Project

At the state level, acting director Alexander continued to work with her fellow directors to obtain additional funding for the Council of President’s Cooperative Library Project (CLP). In the legislature’s 1995 supplemental budget, the Project received $3.2 million to establish the electronic infrastructure at each member-institution’s library and to support more efficient resource sharing. Western did not receive a substantial amount from this appropriation as it had previously committed its own funds to development of the library information system. However, the amount it did receive permitted purchase of the Ariel electronic document transmission system for sending and receiving scanned documents over the Internet, considerably enhancing interlibrary loan operations starting in October 1995.

Western had made a singular contribution to the Cooperative Library Project effort in 1994 when its negotiating team set the standard in the state for best price for the Innovative Interfaces integrated system product. This precedent allowed Western’s Cooperative Library Project partners to purchase Innovative systems for their sites at very favorable prices in 1995, thus ensuring a common integrated library system at all Project institutions as the basis for future cooperative database ventures.

Following a successful proposal in early 1996, the Cooperative Library Project received $5.2 million in that year’s supplemental budget, including nearly $900,000 for Western’s immediate priorities and substantial ongoing funds to support initiatives related to the CLP goals. The library was able to purchase additional software for the library information system, including World Wide Web capabilities, as well as equipment to enhance resource sharing, such as digitizing text and microform scanners.

Large numbers of electronic bibliographic records for collections such as government documents and major microform sets were acquired for loading into the online catalog, in order to provide more complete information about Western’s holdings to its Project partners. Contract cataloging services purchased for substantial accumulations of special materials enabled Western to include records in its online catalog for many uniquely held titles in special areas such as Asian languages and music. The allocation of ongoing funds enabled the library to add staff positions to support operations of value to the Cooperative Library Project, including interlibrary loan and cataloging.

By the end of 1995/96, the library’s collections included over 620,000 volumes, a government publications collection of nearly similar size, close to 3 million microforms, and rapidly growing numbers of music scores, recordings, compact discs, videos, electronic resources, and other non-book materials. The overall staff had declined to thirty-eight permanent support staff and ten library faculty including the acting director. In April 1995, the library staff formed its first staff organization since 1982. The library staff council, whose members were elected by the classified staff in all operational areas, organized informational meetings on budget and personnel issues, conducted opinion surveys on such issues as flexible work time, and met quarterly with the acting director to discuss staff concerns.

The library’s external relations effort now included the twice-yearly newsletter Imprint, begun in 1988, and LIP Chat: Library Integration Project Newsletter, started in 1995 by assistant to the library director Rick Osen to provide information to the campus about the upcoming Haggard Hall renovation. In the spring of 1996, the library was able to offer the first awards from the $100,000 Herbert R. and Laura Beth Hearsey Scholarship Endowment, created the previous year by former associate director Herbert R. Hearsey and his wife to provide scholarships for student employees of the library. 

Creating the "client-centered library"

On March 5, 1996, Provost DeLorme announced the appointment of Dr. Judith Segal, director of the Fishburn Library at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, as university librarian and university records officer, effective August 1, 1996. Dr. Segal’s academic credentials included a B. A. from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, a M. A. from Brandeis University, and a M. S. L. S. and D. L. S. from the School of Library Service, Columbia University. Acting director Marian Alexander accepted reassignment to the new position of library systems coordinator.

At the start of her tenure, Dr. Segal initiated a team-based management structure. A guidance team composed of administrators, faculty, and staff was established in October 1996 to facilitate the transition and to serve as the forum for development of the five-year strategic plan requested by the Provost. Functional areas such as reference formed teams to facilitate communication and decision-making. Other, cross-organizational teams developed to address specific issues, policies, and service initiatives. During fall 1996, the library began a comprehensive effort in collaboration with the University’s office of institutional research to survey seven constituent groups, including faculty, new students, returning students, graduate students, administrators and staff, community users, and library staff.

Starting in January 1997, the library faculty reorganized the traditional public services component of library service around the concept of college-based librarians to better serve the informational, instructional, and research needs of students and faculty in the University’s five colleges. Coordinator positions were developed to lead services and programs such as cataloging, instruction, and collection development. In March, recruitment to fill six library faculty positions began. Consistent with the new organizational directions, the positions included four college-based librarians and an extended day services librarian to serve the late afternoon and evening clientele of the library.

Renovation, assessment, and renewal

In late summer 1996, removal of the much-loved "Empress tree" and the popular James Fitzgerald sculpture "Rain Forest" from the plaza at the top of the stairs between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library signaled the start of the library expansion project. Both had been features of the plaza since completion of Haggard Hall in 1959. The first phase of the Haggard Hall renovation commenced on September 1 as Nuprecon, Inc. began hazardous materials abatement and demolition work within the building. By the end of October, when this work was completed, the general contractor selection process begun in June also concluded. On February 6, 1997, the Board of Trustees awarded the contract to The Vemo Company of Seattle, successor of the firm Cawdrey and Vemo, general contractors for the Bassetti Addition of 1970/72. By February 24, the contractor was on the site and by mid-March, the library’s south door was closed for the duration and demolition of the plaza and stairs had begun.

Inside the library, evaluation of existing services and implementation of new initiatives continued. Following the recommendation of a staff team, the video collection and viewing stations were moved to the first floor in February 1997, to provide better access to this popular and growing service. In April, automation consultant Richard Boss assisted the library in assessing its computerized resources and recommended future directions for electronic services. In June, following extensive discussions between Dr. Segal and the Woodring College of Education, the library once again assumed responsibility for Library Science 125--Library Orientation, after a gap of more than thirty years.

Enhancements to the library information system continued as well. In May 1997, the library implemented the Innovative Interfaces "WebPAC" software, providing a Web-based online catalog capable of supporting active links to the fast-growing world of World Wide Web resources. Use of the check-in function of the Innovative serials module began in July, enabling users to see arrival information about individual issues of current subscription titles. In mid-1997, the library joined with its Cooperative Library Project partners in negotiating a group subscription to ProQuest Direct, a Web-based indexing, abstracting, and full-text service. Access to ProQuest Direct at Western began in August 1997.

Cooperative Library Project funding made possible several other enhancements implemented during 1997. Starting in January, the library information system offered access to the combined catalog of the six CLP participating libraries, developed and maintained by the University of Washington Libraries. Electronic bibliographic records purchased with the 1996 CLP allocation were loaded into the library information system starting in mid-year. By November, over 250,000 records had been added to the online catalog, providing access to individual titles in major microform sets such as Early English Books and the Library of American Civilization, United States government documents published since 1976, and thousands of Canadian and Washington State publications.

The strategic plan

On December 5, 1997, the Board of Trustees reaffirmed in the Western Washington University Role and Mission Statement that the University would "continue to improve library holdings, and access to library resources, including using advanced technologies to improve information procurement." In the fall of 1997, the library had adopted and presented to the campus community its strategic intent: "A client-centered library where learning transcends the boundaries of time, place, and format." In December, Dr. Segal submitted to Provost DeLorme the final version of the library’s strategic plan, Western Washington University Libraries: Organizational Directions and Major Strategies: 1998-2003, outlining goals, objectives, and performance indicators related to realizing the strategic intent.

The arrival in fall 1997 of four additional library faculty members considerably bolstered the library’s ability to pursue its new strategic goals related to instruction. In November, the faculty formed a curriculum committee to review proposed courses and make recommendations for the structure and content of core courses. On January 6, 1998, the University’s academic coordinating commission accepted the committee as "a regular curriculum committee with a responsibility to report its activity to the Academic Coordinating Commission." After more than thirty years, the library was once again part of the institution’s curricular process and the faculty turned its attention to development of a sequential instructional program.

The library began offering Library 125--Basic Information Seeking Skills in 1997/98 in addition to Library 201--Introduction to Library Strategies and also sought approval for other courses consistent with the curriculum of its envisioned library and information studies program. Starting in 1996/97, library faculty offered library tutorial and research courses linked to credit courses in specific disciplines, as well as library-focused components of cluster courses designed to be taken together. Instructional initiatives also extended to University programs such as Summerstart, the First Year Experience, and ResTek, the residence hall program supporting technology in the dormitories.

The library information system continued to expand throughout 1998. In May, the online archival service JSTOR was implemented, providing Web-based access to the full-text backfiles of dozens of scholarly journals. In August, the library introduced the OCLC FirstSearch service. Purchased through a regional library consortium and long a standard electronic reference source in academic libraries nationwide, FirstSeach offered Web-based access to a wide variety of databases supporting multiple disciplines.

Also consistent with its strategic goals, the library in 1998 began a systematic review of its holdings using the WLN collection assessment product, with the goal of revising the 1986 collection development plan. In fall 1998, work began with several academic units to develop strategic collection development plans specific to their unique needs. In addition, the library moved to implement programs to promote campus awareness of the library’s contributions to the University’s intellectual life. In November 1996, Dr. Segal had initiated the "salon" series "Vistas in Research," offering University faculty an additional venue to learn about and discuss their research ideas, projects, and outcomes. During 1998/99, the library began a reading series to provide campus authors with an opportunity to read from and discuss their works with University faculty, students, and staff.

The Haggard Wing of Wilson Library

The Haggard Hall renovation project proceeded apace during the last half of 1997, with interior demolition completed by mid-August. In July, remodeling began of basement areas at the midpoint of the south side of Wilson Library, underneath the area where the connector would join the existing structure. By mid-September, interior framing was progressing well in Haggard Hall and the start of the new brick façade was evident on the south exterior wall. The library began development of furniture and equipment lists. Construction of the connector between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library began in October 1997, followed by extensive stabilizing work on the existing columns on the Wilson side around the connector area.

Throughout 1998, intensive planning took place concerning the impending shifts of collections, services, and personnel to Haggard Hall. Starting in fall 1997, the library analyzed collection layout alternatives. The plan adopted early in 1998 placed materials classified in the Library of Congress classifications A-H in Haggard Hall, along with the unified reference collection. In December 1997, the library’s cataloging services unit began the periodicals classification project, to facilitate the eventual shelving of all periodicals by classification rather than by title, as had been the practice since the library’s earliest days.

By early June 1998, the connector between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library had taken shape and by the end of August, it was attached on the Wilson side. By October, the courtyard beneath the connector, linking Red Square to High Street, was paved, landscape planting had begun, and shelving and furniture were arriving for installation inside the new facility. In early November, the first computers were installed, and in early December, acquisitions and cataloging personnel became the first occupants of the library’s newly renovated space in Haggard Hall.

During the last two weeks of December 1998, the move of substantial parts of the collections to the Haggard Wing began, along with the re-location of personnel and services such as reference, circulation, and reserve. In Wilson Library, the government documents collections and reference service were moved to the first floor to create an enlarged government information area. The library’s collections of microforms and non-book materials were also relocated to the first floor to form a new media collections area. On December 30, 1998, the "Haggard Wing of Wilson Library" and the reconfigured central area of Wilson Library were ready for University and public use. 

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