Annual Report

Front of Waldo Library with people and flowers

Waldo Library entry courtyard, floral display and fountain area in the heart of campus

This year-in-review showcases our progress and achievements during 2016-2017.

Libraries mission and vision  

The University Libraries empowers its community to discover, explore, and shape the information universe.

The University Libraries is innovative, responsive and recognized as vital to the research, creative, and academic pursuits of WMU and the global community.


Students examining manuscripts of many types in the Rare Book Room

Students examining manuscripts of many types in the Rare Book Room

The University Libraries made significant progress on projects and improvements to facilities and services during fiscal year 2016-17.  

  • Developed a new strategic plan focusing on improving the user experience.
  • Streamlined services and programs to better meet the needs of our community.
  • Initiated on-going improvements to the Waldo Library facility to enhance student learning and collaboration with flexible and responsive spaces.
  • Improved library website to enhance intuitive navigation and discoverability.

Student Success

Over 620,000 visited the libraries this year

The Libraries play an important role in helping students access valuable research and develop knowledge. Library staff answered 23,141 questions during 2016-2017, helping users with in-depth research, using technology and navigating the university environment. 

Faculty librarians delivered direct information literacy education to over 8,300 members of the WMU community, including about 6,500 students in classes on campus and online. Instruction sessions focused on research, evaluating sources, and using library online and print collections.

To help support University-wide efforts to address challenges to college affordability, the University Libraries’ textbook program provided students with access to textbooks on reserve. Over 165 textbooks were made available during fall and spring semesters in 2016-2017. The program focused on textbooks for 1000 and 2000 level courses with high enrollment (50+ students) to maximize the value of each textbook.

In the future, the Libraries plan to promote awareness and adoption of open educational resources for WMU faculty and instructors.

Student Employment

Blessley, who works in User Services has been invaluable in connecting with other students

The University Libraries operates one of the largest student employment programs on campus, providing 167 WMU students with the opportunity to support their education and gain work experience simultaneously. 

Student employees support the Libraries’ technology, service points, building operations, resource management and specialized services, gaining valuable experience and skills to support their future careers.

Blessley Babykutty, User Services

“The best part of working in the WMU Libraries is the people you work with and the people you meet. It has become one of the most important parts of my college experience. Being an international student doing a graduate program at WMU, I always was conscious about starting a conversation with anybody. But I have surely overcome that now.” said Blessley Babykutty who works in User Services at Waldo Library.

Revitalizing Spaces

Students enjoying the new chairs and couches in Waldo

First floor of Waldo is newly outfitted  with flexible seating, large white boards, movable tables and seating with charge ports

The Libraries implemented several on-going projects to revitalize library facilities and create flexible, responsive learning environments that support learner success. Waldo Library added new flexible seating options and exciting collaborative spaces that include white boards, move-able tables and abundant charging stations for digital devices.

The Libraries also increased the number of group study rooms and expanded public areas by relocating furniture and equipment to create a variety of usable spaces that are welcoming and conducive to individual and group work.

Facility and Use Information (All Locations)

  • Total Visitors 615,373
  • Total Operating Hours 12,443
  • Questions Answered 23,141
  • Public Computer Stations 230
  • Student Printing (pages)


To improve library users’ experience and streamline operations, the University Libraries implemented a pilot program that combined service points in Waldo Library for all evening hours of operation. Program staff reported improvements to the consistency and delivery of library services from the single-service point. The success of the evening service pilot program helped inform decisions to consolidate service points for all hours of the operations, which began fall 2017. 

The Libraries clarified policies to support users’ needs and reduce confusion about check-out periods and fines. The Libraries’ new “no-fines” policy was a significant change from previous daily and hourly fine rules. The policy changes also enable all WMU users to check out regular books for the entire semester and renew books for up to one year. 

Student printing in the Libraries’ four facilities accounted for approximately 31% of all printing on WMU’s campus—2.2 million pages for 2016-2017. Students can print using one of the 230 computer stations provided by the Libraries or wirelessly from their personal devices.

Responsive Programs

 Black student standing to ask a question  3 panelist discussing Fake News  Fake News Panel Discussion airing on the internet, shown on a laptop screen

One example of the Libraries’ responsive educational programming was an interactive panel discussion on the pressing national issue of fake news. In February 2017, three experts from WMU and the Kalamazoo community answered questions and led a discussion on the prevalence of misinformation and the critical need for media literacy. Over 120 members of the WMU community participated in-person plus many more in live stream viewing. The captioned recording has been shared with other libraries.

Support of Research and Scholarship

Scholarworks at WMU is a permanent archive and repository of scholarly works by WMU faculty and students and acts as a digital showcase of the research, scholarly and creative output of the Western Michigan University community.  The repository provides a platform for publishing and displaying journals, archiving WMU student honor’s projects, theses and dissertations and digitally preserving selected official publications and presentations from WMU administrative units.

4.5 million global downloads for WMU scholarly works from the institutional repository

Users from around the world downloaded 1.68 million items during 2016-2017 and 4.56 million total since its 2011 implementation. The Zhang Legacy Collections Center holds primary source documents supporting research in a wide range of topics focused on southwest Michigan. 

Three historical newspapers housed in the Archives and Regional History collections are now available online:

  • Focus News, Kalamazoo’s longest continuously produced newspaper (1968-1982) reporting on news of interest to the African-American community.
  • Western Herald Archive (1916-2009) the longest continuous publication on WMU’s campus with a focus on students.
  • Western News (1972-2017) a publication for and about WMU faculty and staff.

Partnering with University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and the Library of Michigan, the University Libraries established a Michigan hub to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) national library database. Fourteen of the University Libraries’ digital collections are now widely accessible, nationally and internationally, for scholarship, education and public interest through DPLA.

Rare Acquisition

Professor studying the small 12th century manuscript

Radburtus 12th century manuscript will be used for research.

The University Libraries’ Special Collections acquired a rare 12th century manuscript—a copy of a treatise on the Eucharist, first published some 300 year earlier—through a $70,000 Breslauer Foundation Grant. The Radbertus manuscript will be used primarily for research and teaching, affording WMU scholars the opportunity to work with this rare artifact and gain meaningful experience with medieval documents.


University Libraries’ Collections Summary

  •  Books (print and electronic) 1,936,000
  • Journals and Serials 165,936
  • Databases 699
  • Audio 86,500
  • Visual materials 204,000

University Libraries’ Collections Usage

  • Print and E-Book Uses 1,064,000
  • Online Journal Article Downloads > 1.5 million
  • Total Print and Electronic Reserve Items 6090
  • Uses of Print and Electronic Reserve Items 80,537
  • Document Delivery and Interlibrary Loan Requests Supplied 15,919
  • WMU Items Loaned to Other Libraries 25,523 


Views of the 4 libraries

Maybee Music and Dance Library (269) 387-5237

Swain Education Library (269) 387-5223

Waldo Library (main) (269) 387-5059

Zhang Legacy Collections Center (269) 387-8490