Annual Report 2018-19

Waldo Library’s first floor refresh

We embarked on a significant renovation project in Waldo Library to refresh the first floor. The space now features energy-efficient lighting, new ceiling tiles, and contemporary carpeting. Reconfigured first floor shelving will improve accessibility and bring the aisles into ADA compliance. The project is the most significant renovation to Waldo Library since the 1991 addition to the original structure.

The project started in May 2019 at the end of the spring semester. The first floor closed for construction while the rest of the building and services remained open for students and other users. Some book stacks were moved intact for efficiency.  A First Floor Project Blog chronicled the progress through the summer. 

  • University Libraries employee pushing a cart full of books.
  • Empty first floor of Waldo Library after new carpet was installed.

The Libraries has been improving the first floor in phases over the past two years by adding new, flexible furniture and opening the Bookmark Café with WMU Dining Services. This project pulled together all of this work and makes the first floor an inviting, fresh space for students to study, meet with groups, access technology, and experience everything the University Libraries has to offer.

  • Students using first floor after renovations.
  • Bookshelves on first floor of Waldo Library after renovation.

Open education workshops

The Libraries’ Open Education Resources (OER) taskforce invited WMU instructors to attend workshops and explore potential open textbook solutions for use in their curriculum. The rising cost of textbooks and course materials can impede students’ academic success. Open textbooks and education resources are low or no-cost options that can alleviate a financial burden on students as well as provide faculty with customizable course content. Faculty can use, adapt, and share OER materials for free.

  • People listening to a speaker at an Open Textbook Workship.
  • Open Textbook Network logo.

Students prepared for History Day

Three students around a laptop working on a History Day project.

The Zhang Legacy Collections Center and WMU Department of History sponsored a research session for local fourth through twelfth-grade students and teachers who were preparing for the Michigan History Day competition. The competition encourages students to select historical topics related to an annual theme. “Triumph and Tragedy in History” was the selected theme for 2019. Students working on History Day projects learned how to access and utilize primary source materials from WMU Libraries’ archivists and student volunteers from the History Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta. 

200,000 milestone reached

Forklift in Zhang Legacy Collections Center storage area.

The Zhang Legacy Collections Center achieved a new milestone in 2019 as its archives and regional history collection continue to grow. The collection now contains over 200,000 barcoded items in their holdings catalog. The facility opened in 2013 and brought together research collections stored in several locations throughout campus. At the time of the initial move, there were just over 69,000 barcodes entered into the system.

Welcome Paul Gallagher

Headshot of Paul Gallagher, Associate Dean for Resources and Digital Strategies.We welcomed Paul Gallagher, Associate Dean for Resources and Digital Strategies, to the Libraries in 2018.

Gallagher came to WMU from Wayne State University and has served as the 2018 Michigan ALA President, Vice President of the Michigan Collaborative for Library Services board, and a Michigan DPLA Service Advisory board member.

“It is a pleasure to serve on the University Libraries’ team. I’m excited for our shared future and the exciting projects we started in the last year,” Gallagher said.

The value of student employment

Student spotlight: Cheyenne Smigiel, User Services

Smigiel, Brown and Sachs present at 2019 MiALA conference

Cheyenne Smigiel interacts with many WMU students at Waldo Library’s service desk and as a tour ambassador for the First Year Experience classes visiting the Libraries.

Smigiel shared her experience by co-presenting with Dianna Sachs, associate professor, and Megan Brown, user services coordinator, on the role of student employees as library advocates at the 2019 Michigan Academic Library Association (MiALA) conference. The presentation, “The (In)Credible Library Ambassador: Harnessing the Power of Students as Advocates,” included the benefits of the Libraries’ first-year experience program to the new students and to the ambassadors themselves.

“I was very surprised when asked to be included in the presentation, but also eager to begin,” Smigiel said. “Since I plan on going to graduate school for library science, I felt it would be a great opportunity to be a part of it.” 

Cheyenne’s experience as a library ambassador and at the conference demonstrates the valuable and transferable skills students can gain through campus employment.

“My favorite part about this experience was being able to interact with other library professionals and learn more about what they do. It was fun and interesting to meet so many successful individuals.”

Human LibraryTM event: Unjudge Someone

Human library logo.

We collaborated with the College of Education and Human Development to host a Human Library event at Waldo Library.

The Human Library is a global organization that aims to understand diversity through safe and open dialogue. Events sponsored by schools, libraries, and other organizations offer opportunities to learn more about people with different experiences and backgrounds.

During Human Library events, volunteers act as human books that can be checked out for personal conversations. Event organizers use a framework to create a safe space for open and respectful dialogue.

At our WMU Human Library event, eleven individuals volunteered as human books to share their experiences and talk about their identities at the event.  Through over fifteen conversations, participants learned about volunteers’ personal experiences and identities. Both participants and volunteers reported experiencing impactful moments during the event.

New Café in Waldo Library sweetens the experience

Dining Director Gipper and Library Dean Garrison at café opening

We opened a new café in Waldo Library! For years, we received requests from students and library users to add a café in the library. In collaboration with Dining Services, the Bookmark Café opened for business in March and is quickly becoming a favorite for coffee and food.

In addition to its convenient location, the Bookmark Café’s evening hours provide another food option for students on campus late at night after most cafés and dining halls close.

The Bookmark Café will expand its hours this fall due to its success and popularity. The Bookmark Café is located inside Waldo Library on the first floor.

Medieval manuscript course

Nine participants studied the history and production of manuscript books in the Middle Ages this summer in a two-week intensive course sponsored by Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute and University Libraries.

Students examined items dating from the 13th century through the 20th century, learned papermaking and historical binding techniques at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, and visited rare book rooms at WMU, Kalamazoo College, and the University of Notre Dame. The course was designed to give participants significant hands-on experience with original materials. Participants investigated the history and construction of a variety of manuscripts and learned techniques to identify signs of production and wayfinding.

The participants used 21 medieval manuscripts on loan from Les Enluminures, a Chicago-based vendor of rare and historical manuscripts. The manuscripts were also displayed in Waldo Library during the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies. The company’s “Manuscripts in the Curriculum” program encourages the integration of manuscripts into courses. WMU is the last participant in the pilot program which will begin a new cycle in September 2019. Seven early manuscripts, jointly-owned by the University Libraries and Newberry Library in Chicago, were also featured in the course.

One class session was entirely devoted to medieval bibles. Laura Light, Director and Senior Specialist at Les Enluminures, visited the class and gave a public lecture titled "The Paris Bible: What's in a Name (and Why It Matters)."

  • Class attendees looking at a large medieval manuscript.
  • Small medieval manuscript.
  • Class attendees listening to guest lecturer Laura Light.
  • Class attendees looking at medieval manuscripts in Rare Book Room.

“The more diverse the materials you look at and experience, the better equipped to transfer knowledge to other contexts and materials in your work,” said Professor Theresa Tinkle, an attendee from the University of Michigan. “This very scholarly experience has given me a really solid foundation to build upon as I go on with my research interests.”

The course was offered through Extended University Programs for professional development or personal enrichment and the Medieval Institute for graduate credit. The course drew nine students from across Michigan and beyond, including librarians, graduate students in the humanities, a senior scholar, and a professional social scientist seeking intellectual stimulation in a new field.

"It was just the right mix of people," said Elizabeth Teviotdale, the instructor and assistant director of WMU's Medieval Institute. "They were a very lively bunch, and they kept me constantly on my toes." 

“It was an incredible opportunity for me,” said Lindsay Ragle-Miller, a graduate student from Wayne State University taking the course for credit. “Liz is so knowledgeable; hands-on experience is invaluable. It was a pleasure to work with her. It is truly a unique course in rare book schools.”

Flipped classroom approach in IEE1020

How do you make library research more engaging to students? This year Ed Eckel tested a new model for his library research sessions to see how students responded to a more active style of instruction.

Headshot of Ed Eckel, associate professor and engineering librarian.

Eckel, an associate professor and engineering librarian, created a “flipped classroom” for his library sessions with IEE1020, a technical communications course for engineering students. Flipped classrooms move information transmission activities outside the official class time. Students watch videos and complete readings and assignments before class so instructors can use class time for active, problem-based learning experiences.

Students in flipped classrooms take an active role in their work. This approach allows Eckel to spend more time interacting with students one-on-one. To prepare for their library session, students watch a series of four tutorial videos on the research process and complete a short online pre-assignment.

“Based on two years’ worth of assessment data, over 50% of students have been able to reach competency on finding relevant book chapters in Knovel and articles in Engineering Village, but they struggle to come up with useful keywords for their topics,” Eckel reported.

“When students arrive for their library session, I work with them individually, helping them conceptualize their topics, develop fruitful search strategies, and evaluate potential articles, while they are actively engaged in searching,” Eckel said. “The result is a more engaging library session.”

Teaching and Learning Technology Day

We showcased the Libraries’ emerging technology spaces and tools at a Teaching and Learning Technology Day for faculty and instructors. The event included a tour of the Virtual Reality Lab, Makerspace and Learning Glass Studio.

Attendees learned how these spaces and tools could enhance their curriculum and course experience. Professors Tim Greene and Susan Houtrow described their experience of incorporating the Learning Glass Studio and Virtual Reality technology into their teaching and research during the event.

  • Person writing on the Learning Glass lightboard.
  • Event attendees observing in the Virtual Reality Lab.

Library statistics

Facilities use (all locations)

Facilities useTotal
Total visitors 597,958
Questions answered 60,791
Research consultations 663
Computer stations 228
Total public computer logins 188,065
Student printing (pages) 1.89 million

Program statistics

Instructions sessions 371
Digital items created 133,195
Scholarworks items added 4,151
Scholarworks downloads (2018-19) 1,723,667
Scholarworks downloads (2011-18) 7,966,154
Virtual Reality Lab sessions 1,671

Collections summary

Book (print and electronic) 1,956,498
Journals and serials 214,787
Databases 662
Media (physical and electronic) 359,597

Collections use

Collection useTotal
Print loans and eBook uses 1,061,386
Online article downloads 1,055,279
ILL and document delivery requests fulfilled 11,190
Total loans to other libraries 21,725