UW Libraries Seek Membership into Greater Western Library Alliance

October 2, 2012
People working in computer lab
University of Wyoming officials will learn next month whether UW Libraries have been accepted into the Greater Western Library Alliance, which would designate the university as a top research institution. (UW Photo)

Representatives of the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) liked what they saw during a recent University of Wyoming Libraries on-site visit.

UW is seeking GWLA status this fall, which would designate the university as a top research institution. The alliance is a consortium of 32 research libraries located in the central and western United States. GWLA is a project-oriented consortium, nationally recognized as a leader in transforming scholarly communication, and as a facilitator in applying new information technologies.

GWLA officials will notify UW early next month with their decision.

Alliance members develop programs related to scholarly communication, interlibrary loan, shared electronic resources, cooperative collection development, digital libraries, staff development and continuing education.

GWLA Executive Director Joni Blake from Kansas City, Kan., and board members Martha Bedard from the University of New Mexico and Richard Clement of Utah State University, visited UW as part of the membership process.

“The GWLA site visit is similar to a college accreditation visit that analyzes collection size and scope, services and potential contributions to the alliance,” says Maggie Farrell, UW Libraries dean. “The university is interested in expanding its partnerships with western research universities and adding to the broader dialogue of academic libraries and their contributions to education and scholarship.”

“What we look for in an institution is one that offers a true spirit of collaboration among deans, libraries, trustees and administration -- and one that has a vision,” Bedard said at a recent UW Board of Trustees meeting. “We also look for a libraries dean who supports GWLA goals.”

Both Bedard and Blake said they were impressed with the strides UW has made the last few years with its digital collections and the support UW Libraries have received from the Wyoming State Legislature.

Since 2004, the university and its Board of Trustees have worked with the state legislature, former Gov. David Freudenthal and Gov. Matt Mead to strengthen UW library collections and services.

“Together, the University of Wyoming and the state have invested more than $9 million in collections for the University Libraries and the UW Law Library,” Farrell says. “Those funds also include a $1 million digitization project that funds a digital librarian, equipment and software to support our new focus on digitizing UW collections to expand access to our unique resources.”

In addition, the legislature appropriated nearly $50 million for a new addition and renovation of the W.R. Coe Library, which was dedicated in November 2009.

“The governor and legislature are committed to ensuring that, as the only research university in Wyoming, we have resources supporting our curriculum and research,” Farrell says. ”UW is fortunate to have broad research collections that will advance research among GWLA members.”

Farrell says UW would be a strong partner with GWLA to bolster libraries and scholarship by advancing the consortium with its collections, interlibrary loan capabilities, knowledge of current scholarship issues and expertise in professional development.

UW President Tom Buchanan praised Farrell’s work to achieve GWLA status.

“We also have had the support of two governors and the legislature. Our libraries requests have been very well received,” Buchanan said. “We have high aspirations for a bigger and better libraries for the future. This will be a high priority issue for the university.”

Blake said UW officials have “come a long way and should be patted on the back and commended.”


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