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Libraries Facilities Master Plan

Linked from the list below you will find the report of the ad hoc Committee on Libraries Facilities Master Plan. This report is the culmination of seven months of spirited discussions about the future of libraries, the information, service, and space needs of faculty, students, and citizens, and the possibilities and constraints surrounding facilities. The report is in several parts:


Table of recommendations and principles to guide action

Appendix A: List of participants

Appendices B-E are in Adobe Acrobat Reader format. It can only be read and printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader (3.0 or above preferred). If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, it maybe downloaded, free of charge. If you wish to download this free software click here Adobe's Web Site and follow the download installation instructions.

Appendix B: Report of the 'Concepts' Subcommittee

Appendix C: Report of the 'Users' Subcommittee

Appendix D: Report of the 'Space' Subcommittee

Appendix E: University Libraries 10-Year Facilities Master Plan: a 2000 Update,

and University Libraries’ Strategic and Facilities Master Plan for 1999-2001


Libraries Facilities Master Plan


The library is the information commons of the university, and often serves to symbolize the university as a whole. The number of volumes in a library is a common metric by which the quality of a university may be judged. More important even than size, however, is the reputation of a library for supporting and facilitating the work of faculty and students. This can be done with greater or fewer resources, more or less imagination, and greater or lesser connection to other units.

Why reconsider the University’s approach to the support of libraries at this juncture? By all accounts, libraries are in a state of unprecedented transition. The digital revolution, battles over intellectual property, crises in publishing, and skyrocketing inflationary costs conspire to create dilemmas not only for libraries, but for the university administrations that support them. These are not solely University of Washington problems, but are felt at this university just as acutely nevertheless. There are no obvious solutions; none of our sister institutions have mapped an institutional strategy that serves as a model for the UW. For this reason – and because the budgetary implications of changes in the world of libraries are so profound, the Provost called for a committee to advise him on libraries facilities.

The ad hoc Committee on Libraries Facilities began meeting in the fall of 1999. Membership of the committee (see list, appendix A) included librarians, most notably the Director of the UW Libraries; faculty with expertise in the area of information sciences; other faculty representatives; a graduate student representative; and administrators with portfolios including computing technology and space. The committee quickly divided into three working subgroups: Concepts, Users, and Space. Their individual reports are attached (Appendices B, C, and D, respectively). Although the committee members each took responsibility for consulting with colleagues in their spheres of responsibility and interest, the committee neither held formal hearings nor interviews. The expectation was, rather, that the work of the committee, summarized in this report, would be made widely available for comment following its issue.

It is important to note that this is not a review of UW Libraries as a formal unit, but rather the libraries of the UW. The formal administrative unit, UW Libraries, includes most, but not all of the major libraries on campus. Exceptions include the Law Library and all departmentally based libraries. The committee’s guiding principle was that libraries – as the information commons of the University – are a shared resource and responsibility, and that our well-being as a community of learners and scholars, both within and outside of the UW itself, depends on the decisions that are made about their importance, shape, and size. As a scholarly community, we need to be much more explicitly cognizant of the libraries as a public good, both for understanding and support.



The discussion and recommendations in this report emanate from the committee’s shared understandings about the context in which libraries must negotiate. This context is characterized by change in nearly every dimension:

Change in student population, both quantity and type. There is a growing number of UW students, undergraduate in particular. New fields of study – mostly high technology and interdisciplinary science – are developing continuously. Students are full-time and part-time, evening and day, state-supported and self-sustaining, younger and older, first-time and returning, racially and ethnically diverse, first-generation and fifth-generation, from high school and from community colleges, and so on. As a student community, the UW has never been more heterogeneous.

Change in pedagogy. The use of technology in teaching and learning has been the most obvious and profound change: in the selection and use of materials including the changing nature and use of textbooks, in the development of learning communities, and in the formulation of expectations. New emphases on faculty as facilitators and experiential learning are also notable.

Change in institutional form. The development of UWT and UWB, and the constantly evolving relationship between the three campuses is the most profound change. WWAMI, although not new, is also constantly evolving. Partnerships among institutions – UW and community colleges, UW and other four-year institutions, UW and other Research I universities, UW and industry – all have consequences for institutional structure.

Change in publishing. That publishing costs have skyrocketed is well known. Perhaps less well appreciated is that some fields – particularly high tech fields – have changed the form of knowledge dissemination and have essentially skipped publishing in its traditional format. Computer Science professors don’t publish in the traditional sense; instead they hold seminars and webcast them. Nonetheless, these publications too are catalogued.

Change in the format of information. Books have always been available in libraries. Manipulable, primary data has not. Instead of a map, library patrons can now manipulate coordinate data. Full-text e-journals, online databases, digital books, electronic data sets—these as well as emerging and yet-to-be conceived information formats—all are the concern of academic libraries.

Facilities planning must reflect the nature and pace of these many changes. Libraries’ spaces must address the complexity of today’s library uses but also remain flexible enough to support changes in the ways in which users will rely on libraries in the future.


Against this backdrop of change is that which persists: the needs of users and the purpose of libraries. Users need organized and accessible information resource materials, assistance, and research study space. As the users subcommittee report so clearly demonstrates, users are highly differentiated: faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students have substantially different weights on these three needs. Library facilities should match the aspirations and excellence of the faculty and students in the academic disciplines they serve.

Libraries acquire and distribute collections, organize information and provide access to it, preserve information, and teach applied information literacy. There is more competition in this world, as there is in all of higher education. The concepts subcommittee report explores the purpose of libraries in depth, and shows how they way in which they carry out their missions has changed substantially, even though the basic missions have remained the same.




Principles to Guide Action

FACILITIES (See Space Subcommittee Report, Appendix D)

1.   Library spaces require a sharper definition of type and use.

  • The Capital and Space Planning Office (CASPO), working with the Libraries and UWired, will take the lead in reviewing current definitions and identifying new space categories, with particular attention to space for collaborative learning and study.
  • CASPO will conduct a new library space inventory based on the updated definitions.

2.  Establish an off-campus shelving and storage facility. There is urgency, since other changes depend on it. Candidates for remote shelving and storage include lesser-used material, determined by discipline; lesser-needed material; and those for which only partial access is needed, (e.g., citation instead of whole book, etc.)

  • The UW Libraries and CASPO should develop a rigorous analysis of the cost implications of remote shelving and storage, including both capital and operating costs. In so doing, they must keep in mind the trade-offs (e.g., remote shelving may mean more staff.)

3.   Review use of existing campus space devoted to library activities, including both UW Libraries and departmental libraries spaces, to allow for more informed space-planning decisions.

  • CASPO will take the lead in performing a comprehensive physical/engineering assessment. Special attention should be paid to spaces where compact shelving can be installed.

4.  When the gap between library facilities and the needs of the programs they serve grows too great, then action is needed to improve the facilities.

  • The Fine Arts Library—as discussed in the University Libraries Facilities Master Plan is one leading example of such a need.



Principles to Guide Action

USERS (See Users Subcommittee Report, Appendix C)

5.  Library users are highly differentiated in terms of their needs. Instead of eliminating categories of users, the University community should agree upon clearly specified levels of service for different categories of users. Changing patterns of study and work lead to increased expectations for access and service.

  • For faculty it is essential to maintain the level and quality of collections; inconvenience in access is to be preferred over a decline in quality. Scholars require deep and sophisticated collections and service, and the UW research profile depends on it.
  • Faculty would be better served by inter-institutional agreements to develop, maintain, and share collections than by diminution or loss of particular collections, when constraints on operating budgets preclude desirable acquisitions.
  • Students need space for access to reference services; instruction in information literacy; access to collections and state-of-the-art "wired" workspace; and for solo, and increasingly, group work.

6.  Affirm responsibility to serve the citizens of the state.

  • The public access functions of libraries is valuable and needs to be more widely understood. The UW, together with the UW Libraries, should consider a public outreach campaign to help the citizens of the state understand the value of the UW information infrastructure to them and to ensure appropriate levels of funding for those collections and services.
  • The Libraries should pursue consortial and funding partnerships with the aim of statewide database licensing for the citizens of Washington.

7.  Provide more information, services, and support to individual users when and where they are needed.

  • When investments are to be made, they should be consistent with delivering more information directly to individual users when and where it is needed. This will allow consolidation into fewer physical library locations and effective remote shelving, storage, retrieval, and delivery systems.

8.  There must be a shared effort on campus to achieve greater coordination between the UW Libraries system and departmental libraries (e.g. wired study spaces).

  • The UW Libraries will be responsible for the quality and coordination of the information infrastructure and will oversee the coordinated diffusion of technologies.
  • The UW Libraries will take action to arrive at a shared definition of the UW information infrastructure, including its desired level of quality and branding.



Principles to Guide Action

FUNCTIONS (See the Concepts Subcommittee Report, Appendix B)

9.  Because information literacy has emerged as a core proficiency for UW students, the UW Libraries in partnership with faculty have an increased role in educating students in this area.

  • The UW Libraries, Law Library, and Information School have increasing responsibility to ensure that UW students acquire the necessary information skills.

10.  Libraries have an increasing responsibility as the information manager for faculty and students, particularly in the area of research.

  • The UW Libraries, Law Library, and the Information School have increasing responsibility to assist faculty and students who are creating knowledge bases to organize information, design and structure databases, and retrieve information. Because this is a new area, experimentation is essential.

11.  Affirm Libraries responsibility for preservation of unique materials in electronic and traditional formats. The UW Libraries should take a fair-share approach to its national responsibility for preservation of non-unique material.

  • UW Libraries will communicate this responsibility to the University community.

12.  The UW needs a proactive research and development (R&D) program to help shape the digital role of the Library in the future. This R&D program would focus on (a) experiments, and (b) coordinated digitization.

  • The Provost needs to consider immediately a venture investment that is significant in the near term and whose cost diminishes rapidly over time (e.g., $500,000/year for the first two years, $250,000 for the next two years, and $125,000 for the final two years). Leadership for this R&D program would be shared jointly by the Information School, the UW Libraries, UWired, and C&C with significant participation by interested academic units. The expectation is that this venture fund would be leveraged heavily.

13.  Consortial library activities, including shared off-site space, consortia/cooperative collection development, and jointly licensed or purchased databases, are of benefit to the UW.

  • The UW Libraries should continue and extend their involvement in consortial activities, recognizing that both time and money are required to support these activities.

Taskforces and Committees