Clarifications on the Watzek library renovations

Dear Pioneer Log Editors,

Thank you for the November 13th story on the Watzek Library renovation planning efforts. This is an exciting project that offers the opportunity to make library and IT services more accessible and enhance Watzek as a place for study, research and creative activities.

As the Director of Watzek Library, I’d like to offer three clarifications:

Regarding the merged reference/circulation service point: The library has a very strong team of librarians who assist students through classroom instruction, research consultations, and at the reference desk. The transition to a newly configured library service point in which reference and circulation functions are much closer together is designed to provide simplified access to library assistance and to connect students and librarians. We still plan to have librarians available on the desk the same hours as they are now. But when librarians are not available, student assistants will be able to provide basic research help and refer students who need deeper assistance to a librarian for a consultation. This plan is definitely not about weakening or reducing in size our team of librarians.

Regarding print materials in Watzek: Retaining space for the continued growth of Watzek book collection will be an essential aspect of the renovation plan. We also seek to expand space for archival and special collections materials, areas of growth in recent years. While a shift towards digital journals and reference sources and to a limited extent, ebooks, may allow us to repurpose some space that is currently devoted to shelving print collections, we also hope to recoup space through more efficiently organized staff work areas and denser storage of materials like microforms.

Regarding interlibrary loan: While a strong local print book collection remains essential for our programs, it is also important to realize that no academic library exists as an island. Watzek is part of an interdependent network of libraries whose shared print and digital collections provide resources far beyond what any college or university could accumulate on its own. The L&C community can access almost any book held in an academic library in the Pacific Northwest in a few days through the Summit service. This network allows the library to build and manage our collections strategically, keeping core materials tailored to our programs on site and depending on other libraries for more tangential resources.

As always, I welcome feedback from the L&C community on this process and all aspects of Watzek Library.

Mark Dahl

Director of the Aubrey R. Watzek Library

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