The True University
A History of the Western Washington University Library1899-1998
By Marian Alexander
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.
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.