ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries

The University of Washington Libraries is honored to be nominated for the 2004 ACRL Excellence in Libraries Award, and is pleased to submit the following application.

I. Context

University Overview

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington (UW) is one of the oldest state-supported institutions of higher education on the Pacific coast. The primary mission of the UW is the preservation, advancement and dissemination of knowledge. The UW fosters an environment in which its students develop mature and independent judgment, and an appreciation of the range and diversity of human achievement.

To broaden access to higher education, both geographically and demographically, the University opened campuses in Bothell and Tacoma in 1990. Both institutions offer programs for upper-division undergraduates and for master's degree candidates. More than 41,000 students attend the UW's three campuses, with 30,000 undergraduate students, 9300 graduate students and 1700 professional students.

UW's schools and colleges make indispensable contributions to the state, and share a long tradition of educating undergraduate and graduate students toward achieving an excellence that well serves the state, the region, the nation and the world.

UW Libraries Overview

exterior photoThe Association of Research Libraries (ARL) composite index ranks the UW Libraries 12th among 120 academic research libraries in North America. The Libraries has a collection of more than six million cataloged volumes, an equal number in microform format, more than 50,000 serial titles, and several million items in other formats. Yet beyond the strength of local collections and networked resources, excellent service programs, knowledgeable staff, diverse facilities and size of budget, the Libraries is known for innovation, responsiveness and an integrated planning and assessment process that makes the user-centered library not just a goal, but a reality. Students and faculty recognize the value provided by the Libraries and rank the Libraries as the most important source of information for their work. The Libraries also receives the highest satisfaction rating of any academic service on the surveys of graduating seniors conducted by the Office of Educational Assessment. The Libraries was commended in the University's 2003 accreditation review for its rich collection, well-qualified staff, and "exceptional service to students, staff development, and a commitment to planning and assessment of service."

The UW Libraries provides library and information services to support the teaching, learning, clinical and research needs of the University community. The Libraries' extensive on-site collections, networked information resources, and strong commitment to user-centered services enable it to achieve its mission of enriching the quality of life and advancing intellectual discovery by connecting people with knowledge, and to fulfill its vision of anticipating and meeting the community's information needs.

The Libraries is a network of 25 facilities. The major facilities on the Seattle campus include the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries, Odegaard Undergraduate Library and the Health Sciences Library. In addition, there are 14 subject-oriented branch libraries located near academic departments throughout the Seattle campus and branches in downtown Seattle and on San Juan Island. The UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campus libraries support their respective campuses. The UW Bothell Library also supports the co-located Cascadia Community College.

II. Criteria

Creativity and Innovation in Meeting the Needs of an Academic Community

Vision: Any Time, Any Place Library

Issue: Increasingly, information access is no longer tied to a physical location or time of day. It is now necessary to provide an integrated environment of content, tools and services in a wide selection of formats and delivery mechanisms to accommodate diverse information needs. How could the Libraries be available at any time and from any place to support and improve the ability of the University to meet its standards of excellence, and prepare its graduates for a life of learning and global citizenship?

Action: Based on the results of a 2001 triennial survey by the Library Assessment Group, the Libraries identified changing user behaviors and expectations in the evolving digital library, assessed the usability of new resources, determined available funding, and developed new models and philosophies of service. Student access to libraries and librarians was enhanced to include 24x5 access in Odegaard Undergraduate Library, and Liaison Librarian office hours in many colleges and departments. Access to library services expanded to include patron-initiated online holds, recalls and renewals, and mailing materials to a "home" library. Unique and significant materials such as diaries from the Japanese internment camps, were digitized for any time access, and a substantive investment was made in online resources such as e-journals, full-text databases and Web-based article delivery.

Pilots and initiatives tested and promoted new concepts, services and resources, and led to the implementation of permanent any time, any place resources:

  • a click awayQ and A Live: Digital reference chat service leverages staff time and the three-hour time zone difference in a collaboration with Cornell University Library.
  • QuestionPoint: Digital reference service routes questions to a library anywhere in the world based on the best match with local expertise. The Libraries is also a member of QuestionPoint Washington, a regional multi-type reference cooperative of four public libraries, a law library, the State Library and two academic libraries. The Seattle Consortium responds to law and medical questions, and includes the UW Health Sciences Library, Seattle Public Library and the King County Law Library.
  • ILLiad: User-initiated online Interlibrary Loan requests save patron time.
  • UWill: Online instructional templates for delivering instruction, and generating assignments and course activities help students master information-seeking strategies.
  • Zephyr: Individualized citation list of new library material matches a researcher's interest profile.
  • Web Bridge Link Resolver: Seamless connections from catalog record to online resources.
  • Convergence Consortium: Portal searches across the collections of the UW Libraries, local public libraries, public television and radio stations.
  • Care Provider Toolkit & PrimeAnswers: Information for health sciences audiences. Medical School clinicians depend on these portals for quick access to reliable health-related information.
  • E-Reserves: Hundreds of course reserves are available to students electronically, with over 600,000 uses annually.

Outcome: The UW serves residential and commuter students. Through the any time, any place library, many services and resources are now available to students, faculty and staff regardless of location or time of day. This results in the more efficient use of patron time, user empowerment and self-sufficiency, the opportunity for Libraries staff to work closely with faculty in course development (especially as a result of e-Reserves), and increased access to and use of Libraries materials by the non-university community. In addition, the exposure of the advanced digitized collection has resulted in heavier use of the print collection. Through the implementation of online services and medical students throughout the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) have access to the same information as their Seattle-based counterparts.

Vision: Orbis Cascade Alliance

Issue: Prior to 2003, Cascade in Washington and Orbis in Oregon existed as separate and very successful consortia, each with a union catalog and direct patron borrowing. A merger would provide greater service and economic impacts to the region. A merger would allow participating institutions to leverage resources through distributing costs, expanding user access to scholarly information, improving services, and strengthening collaboration between public and private academic institutions. How could these two consortia be brought together for the benefit of patrons?

Action: In 2002, Cascade and Orbis library directors agreed to merge to create the Orbis Cascade Alliance, which includes every public four-year university and college in Oregon and Washington, 11 private colleges and two community colleges. Within a year, a Memorandum of Understanding and Bylaws were written and accepted by all institutions, and policy governance and procedural differences were identified and resolved. UW Libraries staff initiated this historic merger and led its complex implementation.

To enable the creation of the union catalog, profiling of bibliographic and patrons records was performed for Cascade sites. The new Summit catalog interface, drawing upon the strengths from both Cascade and Orbis, was designed and implemented, and the Cascade system was decommissioned with minimal down time for patrons. Over 11 million records were migrated from Cascade to the Summit server, creating the union catalog of over 22 million items. The Summit collection is accessible to 95% of college students throughout Washington and Oregon.

Outcome: Patrons benefit from the ability to place requests through the Summit catalog and have materials delivered to their home library in just a few days. Lending from all Summit sites is up approximately 25% over last year, and at the UW, lending has increased by 95% over the previous year.

Through membership in the Orbis Cascade Alliance, institutions are leveraging their valuable dollars. The merger spread the cost of such a system across many institutions, enabling membership costs to stay level, or decrease, and at the same time provide for additional central support. The Orbis Cascade Alliance fostered closer relationships among institutions, and additional collaborative efforts such as shared storage, database and journal licensing, and cooperative collection development are underway.

"The Summit catalog brings together in one place an incredible wealth of library materials at universities and colleges throughout the region. It is a remarkable achievement created by a diverse grass-roots coalition of public and private institutions over a two-state region."
— John Helmer, Executive Director, Orbis Cascade Alliance

Vision: Suzzallo Library Renovation

Issue: A 1991 seismic risk assessment of all UW facilities ranked the historic Suzzallo Library among the highest for its potential to sustain significant damage and loss of life in the event of a major earthquake. In addition, the infrastructure in the 75-year-old building was obsolete and inefficient. The library's mechanical, electrical and life safety systems failed to meet current standards, and did not meet the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. How could the Libraries realize the needed renovation while keeping services and collections open and accessible without interruption?

Action: The University designated the Suzzallo Renovation Project a top priority among the list of needed capital projects. UW requested and obtained funding from the Legislature in 1993 to commission a pre-design study for the Suzzallo Renovation. This study, and the design phase were completed and construction funding was approved in 1999. The $48 million construction began in 2000 and was completed in August 2002, on time and on budget.

During the construction, all library services were maintained, and collections remained accessible at all times. The construction project required that over two-thirds of the Suzzallo Library be behind construction walls. To vacate the construction zones, over one million volumes were moved, more than 200 staff were relocated, and 70 staff spent over a year in a temporary location. Hundreds of people worked with enormous pride and dedication to restore and improve the campus icon.

Outcome: With the addition of concrete shear walls, steel struts and seismic braceframes, the entire Suzzallo Library now performs as a single, rigid structure during an earthquake.

The scope and nature of the major renovation work also provided an opportunity to improve services for all who use the Suzzallo Library, including the introduction of Suzzallo Espresso. Public service units were moved to more efficient locations. Group study rooms were created to enable students and faculty to meet as teams, utilizing library resources and networked information. Improved access makes the library more inviting and usable for persons with disabilities. Fire safety systems (detection, alarm, sprinklers) were added, and the aging electrical, communication and mechanical systems were brought up to date. Not one complaint was received during the disruptive and onerous two-year renovation.

The completed Suzzallo Library Renovation Project received several awards, the most notable being the American Institute of Architects/American Library Association 2003 Library Buildings Award, presented at the Annual Conference of the American Library Association.

Vision: Digital Collections and Services

Issue: Much of the unique material held in the Libraries is not readily available to researchers, students and the general public due to library hours, preservation issues and geography. At the same time, the Libraries is licensing and purchasing an ever increasing amount of commercially produced electronic information. How could the Libraries "surface" its hidden collections, and manage its burgeoning electronic materials?

Action: The Libraries established a comprehensive digital initiatives and collections program that includes a broad range of strategies for increasing access to electronic information and local collections. Collection Management Services was established to manage the licensing, evaluation and assessment of electronic resources. The Central Eurasia Information Resources (CEIR) was created to make heretofore unaccessible materials widely available on the Web. The Northwest Digital Archives consortium established a union database of 2,300 EAD-encoded finding aids to regionally significant collections in the Northwest.

The program leverages staff contribution from across all organizational areas of the Libraries. A partnership with the UW Department of Electrical Engineering launched CONTENTdm, an image management system which houses more than 50 digital collections with over 50,000 images. These collections are freely available for students, scholars and the general public. The Metadata Implementation Group (MIG), a self-managing team of Libraries staff, formed to educate others about metadata and to profile digital collections and projects. Consultation and operational support is offered to faculty wishing to create their own digital collections (e.g., art slides, ethnomusicology archives, etc.).

Partnerships also were developed with numerous external organizations: king county snapshots

  • A collaboration with the Museum of History and Industry and 11 other cultural institutions created King County Snapshots, a Web collection of 12,000 historical images from the 19th and 20th century.
  • Through an IMLS grant, a partnership with the Olympic Peninsula Tribal Associations and the Clallam County Historical Society is creating a digital archive of Pacific Northwest cultural and historical items, and producing six online exhibitions as the foundation for an online community museum. This community-based curatorial and exhibition project will create Web sites, workshops, tools and curriculum materials to aid local communities in preserving and sharing their history and culture, and promoting cultural tourism.
  • A collaboration with the Greater Western Library Alliance is creating a digital library on the Columbia, Snake, Colorado and Rio Grande watersheds.
  • A partnership with Innovative Interfaces created the Electronic Resources Management system to track licensed content.

Outcome: Scholars, students and the general public can now readily and freely use unique collections of significant cultural and research value. Faculty now have a robust and reliable way to mount their teaching and research image collections, and make them widely accessible. K-12 students and teachers use the digital collections for class projects, including award-winning History Day competitions.

The Libraries electronic resources are managed more effectively and efficiently, realizing significant cost savings for the University and increased user productivity. Over 100 libraries worldwide use CONTENTdm to make 500,000 images available to library patrons.

Leadership in Developing and Implementing Exemplary Programs

Vision: Culture of Assessment

Issue: In alignment with its strategic goals and directions, the Libraries determined a user-centered approach to assessment was needed. How could assessment results guide and inform the development of library services and resources, improve the quality of service and library performance, and better address the needs of users? How could the Libraries create a "culture of assessment?"

Action: A Library Assessment Group was formed in 1990 to conduct extensive assessment work with patrons, focusing on needs assessment, priorities, library and information use patterns, and patron satisfaction with the quality of library services and collections. A variety of methods also were employed to obtain information from faculty and students, including large-scale and targeted surveys, focus groups, observation studies, usability testing, guided interviews, meetings, and both traditional and electronic suggestion boxes. The next survey, in 2004, will represent the fifth triennial faculty and staff survey.

Use of other broad-based surveys include participation each year in the ARL sponsored LibQUAL+ surveys. LibQUAL+ complement the Libraries own surveys. All survey results are used to improve library services and programs, including:

  • Renovating library facilities for student use, maximizing spaces and services.
  • Installing public access computers with productivity software for student use.
  • Implementing desktop delivery of full-text resources, especially in the sciences and health sciences, and for undergraduates.
  • Collaborating with other campus groups to provide students better information technology support.
  • Providing service training for library staff and student assistants who work directly with patrons.
  • Consolidating and merging four libraries based on use characteristics and patterns.

Outcome: The Libraries has established one of the premier library assessment programs, unique and unparalleled among academic research libraries. The triennial surveys provide invaluable information about how students and faculty use libraries, their needs and priorities, and the importance of and satisfaction with the Libraries during a period of rapid change. Focus groups provide powerful context to enrich and complement other assessment efforts. Discussions have identified potential problem areas and contributed direct user input on such areas as information seeking behavior and use, library barriers and support needs.

The Libraries also contributes to the broader library discussion on assessment through presentations at conferences and workshops at the international, national and regional levels, and through publishing its results and analysis. It collaborates with related campus groups to include survey questions of mutual interest (especially information technology and student learning) on the triennial surveys, in addition to library-related questions on surveys run by other campus agencies.

The Libraries assessment efforts and ability to use the results to improve library services were recognized in the 2003 decennial accreditation review of the University.

"In view of the overall excellence of the Libraries, it should not be surprising that they have benefited from having visionary leaders. Planning, assessment, and continuous improvement are ongoing processes with broad staff participation. The Libraries’ program for the measurement of library use and user satisfaction has resulted in 10 years of longitudinal data on satisfaction rates and user behavior. This information is frequently referred to and used to modify existing services and plan new ones."
— 2003 Accreditation Review Comments

Vision: Staff Development and Training

Issue: In the early 1990s, particularly with the onset of new technologies, the Libraries was in need of an organized program to upgrade technical and other workplace skills. With the economic boom in the region, hiring and retention of qualified staff was dependent on creating a welcoming, exciting and stimulating workplace. How could the Libraries create an environment that encourages staff to seek knowledge, learn new skills, enhance positive attitudes, and develop capabilities for the mutual benefit of individuals and the organization?

Action: The Libraries established a fulltime Staff Development and Training Coordinator and Staff Development Advisory Committee, which led to the incorporation of funding for staff development into the Libraries annual budget. An endowment established in 1996 continues to supplement the staff development program.

An even broader array of resources to further enhance opportunities for staff were developed as a result. A weekly online newsletter was created, and later a monthly awareness service and Web site. A library of staff development/training books, videos and more was acquired for staff use. A full schedule of classes, workshops, information sessions and seminars was created, employing in-house staff, outside trainers/consultants and e-Learning. The staff development budget also provides funds for staff to attend on and off-campus training activities.

The new employee orientation program continues to expand, and through coordination with Libraries Development, a Student Employee Appreciation Week and Scholarship Program provides ten $500 scholarships each year to deserving library student employees, funded by Libraries donors.

Outcome: Libraries patrons benefit from well-trained staff who know they are valued by their employer. At least 60% of Libraries staff (270+) participate in at least one continuing education event in the Libraries and/or elsewhere each year.

The Libraries new employee orientation is exemplary on campus. University Training and Development have asked the Libraries Staff Development Coordinator to teach an annual campus-wide workshop on designing employee orientations. The campus-wide new employee coffee/information reception is now held in the Suzzallo Library.

In 2002, the Libraries was chosen by the ARL Research Library and Management Committee as a "Best Practices" library in three areas: new employee orientation, resources and student recognition/ scholarship. Also in 2002, the Libraries was chosen to participate in the Cornell University Library Benchmarking Survey in staff development.

"The genuine sense of community and enthusiasm I feel from my supervisor and fellow coworkers has been nothing short of phenomenal. It makes a tremendous difference to work with people who truly enjoy what they do and take pride in the service they provide. In getting to know my coworkers, I have discovered how much they enjoy their jobs and how much commitment and care they bring to their jobs."
—From a Student Employee Scholarship Application

Vision: UWired

Issue: In 1994, the University determined undergraduate education would be enhanced by bringing technology into teaching and learning, and by promoting fluency with information technology and information resources. How could UW librarians use their expertise and position at the forefront of national efforts to set standards and develop approaches to teach fluency with information resources, or "information literacy?"

Action: Through a partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Education and Computing & Communications, the University Libraries created UWired to develop and support effective uses of technology in teaching and learning. UWired is not an operating unit, but rather a forum for promoting broad-based discussions, experimentation and analysis about innovation in teaching and learning with technology, fluency in information technology, and new ways for students and faculty to access technology tools and resources.

To accomplish this ambitious goal, UWired created and operated facilities for students and faculty, developed new curricula, and worked with faculty and students to foster instructional innovations:

  • Two hands-on computer classrooms or "collaboratories" were built in the Odegaard Library.
  • The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), a research, development and demonstration space for faculty opened in the Odegaard Library.
  • Odegaard Library Commons, with 356 work stations, is the largest general access computing lab on campus.
  • The Program for Educational Transformation through Technology (PETTT) makes it easier for educators to use technology to transform the ways in which teachers teach and learners learn, and to disseminate this knowledge locally and nationally.
  • Catalyst course tools integrate meaningful uses of technology into pedagogy.
  • Thousands of students, staff and faculty take advantage of walk-in workshops.
  • Digital Audio Workstations provide high-quality audio recording and editing in the library.
  • MyUW, a customizable Web page, provides students, staff and faculty access to UW information and resources.
  • ONTECHNews, a monthly online newsletter, informs faculty, staff and students about new and interesting technology to use in teaching, learning and work.

Outcome: While the technology innovations are substantial, it is the enduring partnership that makes UWired a unique and vibrant cross-campus collaboration with a holistic approach to the educational challenges and opportunities posed by information technologies. UWired improved student learning and faculty teaching, built learning communities, equipped students with the new technology and information competencies, developed new roles for librarians, and offered models for other institutions to emulate .

In 1995, UWired received the ACRL Innovation in Instruction Award and was the inaugural winner of the national EDUCAUSE Award for Systemic Progress in Teaching and Learning in 2000. The award recognizes campus-wide programs that use information technologies to support learner-centered teaching and learning in ways that can be sustained and replicated, and that transform an institution. \

"The successful integration of the new information technologies to create more active student learning environments and the use of collaborative instruction techniques has stimulated excitement in the academic library community. UWired has become a model for all types of academic institutions in a few short years."
—Carla Stoffle, Dean of Libraries, University of Arizona

Vision: Strategic Planning

Issue: Strategic planning is a key attribute of a responsive and innovative library. How could the Libraries create a process for planning that encourages all Libraries staff to assess the environment, reflect upon the service they provide with an eye for improvement, think about issues Libraries-wide and engender strategic thinking?

Action: A Strategic Planning Team, representing all employee classifications, was established to create and maintain a planning process that is both inclusive and participative. Five Key Action Areas were identified as being of greatest importance to the Libraries: Any Time, Any Place; Excellence in Collections/Digital Resources; Capacity Building; Diversity and Organizational Culture; and Information Literacy. Unit Action Plans systematically analyzed innovations by units in support of the Strategic Plan. To ensure the Libraries strategic direction anticipates and meets the needs of patrons, while remaining in synch with the mission and vision of the University, the plan is regularly reviewed.

Town Hall Meetings (all-staff meetings) were established to discuss various aspects of the Strategic Planning process such as Unit Action Plans or a particular Key Action Area. Town Hall Meetings function as informational or collaborative efforts that require brain-storming to build consensus on priorities. A Campus Conversation on Information Literacy also was held to engage the academic community.

Outcome: In a recent survey of Libraries staff, almost all valued the team's attempts to include more people and their opinions. Overall, the comments indicated that strategic planning has been useful in increasing opportunities for input, discussion of issues, communication, and developing a more open and transparent decision-making process. The planning process has provided invaluable context for priority setting and action in constrained budget times.

The Libraries is considered by the campus community as a leader in managing and planning. Other departments on campus have asked for assistance in developing their planning processes and using the Libraries plan as a model.

Substantial and Productive Relationships with Classroom Faculty and Students

Vision: Information Literate Community

Issue: Today's students may be the first generation over-exposed to massive amounts of information available at their fingertips. In a perfect world, this over-exposure would allow libraries to revel in the incredible diversity of access. However, in the real world, over-exposure only underscores the complexity of the information world and highlights students' need for skills to find, select and assess information. How could the Libraries achieve an information literate student body and contribute to the development of an information smart community?

Action: The Libraries fosters an organizational culture that values the practice and scholarship of teaching and pursues campus partnerships to promote the curricular integration of information literacy learning in academic programs. An Information Literacy Coordinator and Information Literacy Steering Committee were established to address the teaching skills of librarians and ensure that they are advocates for integrating information literacy instruction into courses. The committee worked with the Libraries Assessment Group to conduct focus groups and user surveys with faculty and students on the importance of information literacy to student learning. Through these efforts, many tools and learning opportunities were established to build an information literate community.

The Libraries program, Creating a Teaching Culture in the Libraries, fosters discussion among staff to identify topics for further information and training. The results of these discussions include Tools for Teaching workshops, Community Conversation on Information Literacy for Libraries staff, faculty and Puget Sound librarians, and INFO220: Information Research Strategies, a course taught by librarians. INFO220 teaches undergraduates to apply critical thinking skills to information problems in the context of a discipline (e.g. environmental science, history, etc.).

Contributing to the fostering of an information-smart community in our state, UW librarians have served on advisory committees for two statewide LSTA-funded initiatives addressing information literacy, Washington State Library Information Literacy Project and Connecting Libraries and Schools through Information Literacy.

Outcome: Assessment activities increased the Libraries understanding of the needs of faculty and students related to information literacy instruction, thereby informing programmatic planning and pedagogic practice, and fostering a user-centered approach.

Staff development provided important pedagogic skill training for librarians. Staff development also increased the capacity of librarians to discuss with faculty the issues of pedagogy and curriculum, building infrastructure for a sustainable, institution-wide information literacy effort.

Vision: Transformation of OUGL

exterior photoIssue: The Odegaard Undergraduate Library is one of the largest undergraduate libraries in the country, and serves as the primary center on campus for undergraduate learning and research. In 1994, Odegaard's purpose was to serve as the entry point for the undergraduate student, the novice researcher and the inexperienced user of information technology. In 1997 Odegaard Undergraduate Library Master Plan asserted the need for change: "The library as a place is still critical, but that place needs to be redesigned to accommodate the changing nature of the provision of information and library services." How could the Libraries transform Odegaard and adopt the best of technology for the enhancement of teaching and learning?

Action: Acknowledging the importance of working together and the importance of meeting students' need for redesigned learning spaces, Odegaard's Media Center, Digital Animation Lab and study rooms were remodeled. The Media Center houses the Libraries main collection of audiovisual materials of more than 15,000 items in a variety of formats, and a variety of equipment available for student use. The Media Center was re-designed to support the curriculum, intended primarily for individual study and research. A Digital Animation Lab was built to support the University's digital animation program, with the library providing the space and information specialists. The 14 group study rooms were updated with new furniture, carpeting, whiteboards, and the installation of multimedia viewing equipment.

The Libraries collaborated with the Office of Undergraduate Research to host a Research Lecture Series, highlighting current research and creative work of faculty and students, and promoting the involvement of undergraduates in research in all disciplines. The Coordinated Collection Development program was established to allow system subject specialists to select materials for Odegaard, which resulted in less duplication and better coordination throughout the Libraries.

Student art displays, educational exhibits and new books from the collection continue to expand with extensive growing participation. Pizza Night for students during finals week is sponsored by UW Alumni and reaches over 400 students. Other programs are a Diversity Book of the Month Forum and Start Smart at Your Library, a self-guided tour which includes numbered stations and posters throughout the library.

Outcome: Today, computing is as much an integral part of library service for students and faculty as providing reference services, study and research materials, or a quiet place to study or read. When students are working on their papers in the computer lab, they can find reference librarians nearby to answer questions

One of the most significant developments from Odegaard's transformation was the dramatic increase in entry gate statistics. From an average of 5,000 to 6,000 entries per day in 1994, the gate counts now are averaging 9,000 to 10,000 per day, and some peak days reach over 13,000. The statistics for logins in the computer lab are about half of the total entries, indicating students are coming to the library, not only to use and check out the collection, course reserves, and to study, but to use the computer lab. In addition, 24 hour access is provided Sunday through Thursday during the academic year. On many busy days of the quarter, 600-700 students come to the library between midnight and 8:00 a.m.

Vision: Scholarly Communication Program

Issue: Libraries can no longer keep up with the increasing volume and cost of scholarly materials. The promise of the digital revolution to decrease costs and increase access has been threatened by commercial publishers intent on maximizing revenues through raising prices and restricting access. Scholarly communication impacts everyone in the University involved in the production, collection or use of research information. How could the Libraries engage the University in building a scholarly communication system that is accessible, sustainable and affordable?

Action: The Libraries established a comprehensive scholarly communication program which includes a broad range of strategies for educating, engaging and mobilizing the University community. The program included establishing a Scholarly Communication Librarian and Libraries Scholarly Communication Committee to focus the educational and strategic efforts. The committee held campus forums, presented briefings at department meetings, met with new faculty and convened focus groups.

The result was the implementation of a financial model for supporting scholarly communication initiatives and the allocation of endowment funds to seed such initiatives. A scholarly communications Web site was established, as was a database to track faculty who serve on journal editorial boards. An ongoing series of articles on scholarly communications was published in the Libraries faculty newsletter.

The Libraries joined SPARC, BioOne, BioMed Central, Budapest Open Access Initiative, Public Library of Science and DSpace Federation as either a founding member or key signatory. The Libraries worked with MIT and other institutions to develop further DSpace for archiving of scholarly works. The Libraries is leading the establishment of a repository of library and information science gray literature, and became an Institutional Member of BioMed Central (BMC), an independent publishing house committed to providing immediate, free access to peer-reviewed, biomedical research.

UW's Provost co-hosted the Greater Western Library Alliance library dean and provost summit on "Living the Tempe Principles." The Libraries received a Mellon grant to hold a retreat of 65 scholars, librarians, technologists, administrators, museum curators and graduate students on digital scholarship and emerging scholarly formats .

Outcome: Faculty, librarians, researchers, administrators and students are better informed about the issues related to scholarly communication and have taken individual and collective action. The Faculty Council on University Libraries chose scholarly communication as its ongoing agenda in 2001-2003. A UW faculty member, and Nobel Laureate, joined others in founding the Public Library of Science open access initiative. Each of the first two issues of PLoS Biology has featured an article by a UW faculty member. Over 60 faculty signed an open letter calling on scientific publishers to make primary research articles that they publish available online through such initiatives as PubMed Central. The Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Information joined the Libraries in funding the BioMed Central membership. Numerous faculty have chosen to publish through BioMed Central rather than through more expensive journals.

"My first visit to Suzzallo Library was in 1998. What surprised me most was the number of books and the free access to them. One could walk among the shelves and read any book one wants. There were books from all over the world. I even found a shelf with books in my native Kirghiz language. Everything, from the way the library is organized in terms of the ease of finding books, to the reading rooms and computer labs, was exciting to me.
—Libraries Student Employee

Vision: Diversity

Issue: To move toward the Libraries goal of developing a more diverse staff with greater appreciation of diversity, it is important that the Libraries understand the overall organizational culture to plan for change in ways that are congruent with the Libraries values. How could staff, who appreciate different backgrounds and perspectives, provide the Libraries with a competitive advantage to problem solving and planning for services? How could this appreciation allow us to serve our increasingly diverse communities more effectively and with more sensitivity?

Action: The Libraries established Diversity and Organizational Culture as a Key Action Area of the Libraries Strategic Plan, and charged a Task Force on Diversity and Organizational Culture to develop a plan for the Libraries. The task force created an organizational culture survey to gather staff input on diversity issues and aspirations, and engaged a nationally known expert on diversity to conduct interactive town hall sessions for all Libraries staff.

The McKinstry Diversity Fellowship was established for MLIS students, and combines a scholarship with a paid work experience in the Libraries. This one-year scholarship and job experience encourages and supports underrepresented students from Native American, Hispanic American, African American and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander heritages who wish to pursue a career in academic librarianship

Funding was earmarked to support participation in the ARL Leadership and Career Development Program (LCDP), an intensive leadership experience for mid-career librarians of color. Ethnomed, authoritative information about cultural beliefs, medical issues and other related issues pertinent to the health care of recent immigrants to Seattle or the US, also was developed. Exhibits highlighting diverse cultures and achievements were displayed, including sculptures by an Iraqi sculptor, paintings by a Vietnamese artist, and a multi-media display by First Nations, a Native American student organization.

Outcome: The Libraries is an acknowledged leader in campus diversity issues and recognized as a safe place for interchanging ideas. All Libraries staff have a better understanding and appreciation for diversity. Four UW librarians were selected for, and participated in, the nationally competitive LCDP, and subsequently took on new leadership roles. Two graduate students have been awarded the McKinstry Diversity Fellowship. The first has graduated and is pursuing an academic library career; the second is currently enrolled, working in the Engineering Library, and has decided on academic libraries as a career.

III. Conclusion

The UW Libraries is nationally recognized for programs of excellence in library assessment, information literacy, digital libraries, international studies support, integrated health information services, and for providing access to networked information. The Libraries is also known for its commitment to collaborative programs to facilitate teaching and learning. The staff of the Libraries is dedicated to serving the mission of the University of Washington, and strive to be a model of what academic libraries are and will become. Because of its extraordinary staff, the Libraries continues to expand its services, role and influence in the University, the region, the nation and the world.


University of Washington

University of Washington Libraries

Orbis Cascade Alliance

Suzzallo Library Renovation

Digital Collections

Culture of Assessment


Scholarly Communication