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The University of Wyoming’s status as a top research institution has been bolstered with UW Libraries achieving membership in the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) -- a consortium of 32 research libraries located in the central and western United States.
The announcement was made today (Thursday) at the UW Board of Trustees meeting.
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 members develop programs related to scholarly communication, interlibrary loan, shared electronic resources, cooperative collection development, digital libraries, staff development and continuing education.
“The inclusion of UW as a member of GWLA is validation of our university goal in developing a research library that supports teaching and research for UW students and faculty,” says Maggie Farrell, UW Libraries dean. “Ten years ago, UW had a very good undergraduate library, but we were failing to support the areas of distinction for university programs.”
With GWLA membership, UW students and faculty will have faster access to research collections complementing UW Libraries’ own collections. UW will be able to purchase some research databases at a lower cost, saving the university money through collective purchasing power. UW Libraries also has peer partners for grants, professional development and special projects that were lacking previously by not being a part of a large research library cooperative, Farrell says.
“We are thrilled to welcome the University of Wyoming as the newest member of the Greater Western Library Alliance. The UW Libraries possess a talented and enthusiastic staff, strong special collections, and an even stronger commitment to collaboration with research universities in the region,” says GWLA Executive Director Joni Blake. “The university administration and Board of Trustees are to be commended for their notable support of the university libraries to ensure everyone in the UW community has access to best research and teaching resources. GWLA members genuinely look forward to working with the UW Libraries on a broad range of initiatives and projects.”
Earlier this fall, a three-person GWLA team was at UW for an on-site inspection, similar to a college accreditation visit that analyzes collection size and scope, services and potential contributions to the alliance.
GWLA members were impressed with the concerted effort of governors Dave Freudenthal and Matt Mead, the Wyoming Legislature, UW Board of Trustees, UW President Tom Buchanan and Academic Affairs to make library collections and services a top university priority, Farrell says.
“While the funding for collections was provided through legislative and tuition initiatives, the focus of everyone on this priority demonstrated a commitment that benefits the university as well as the state,” she adds.
Since 2004, the university and its Board of Trustees have worked with the state Legislature and the two governors to strengthen UW library collections and services.
Together, UW and the state have invested more than $9 million in collections for the UW Libraries and the UW Law Library, Farrell says. That includes a $1 million digitization project that funds a digital librarian, equipment and software to support the new focus on digitizing UW collections to expand access to the libraries’ 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.
“UW deeply appreciates the support of the Wyoming Legislature, Gov. Dave Freudenthal and Gov. Matt Mead in understanding the vision of UW to create a robust library collection that benefits the university and the state,” Farrell says. “A strong research library for UW benefits the entire state because Wyoming citizens are able to check out materials and use databases on site.”
UW lends materials throughout Wyoming for public and college libraries, as well as being a strong contributor to the Wyoming Libraries Database (WYLD) program. The university provides a number of databases through WYLD and the UW Alumni Association, extending UW resources statewide and to alumni anywhere in the world.