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West Virginia University Libraries Join the Greater Western Library Alliance

posted Mar 23, 2015, 6:45 AM by Lars Hagelin   [ updated Mar 23, 2015, 8:00 AM ]


The West Virginia University Libraries have been granted membership into the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA). Membership was approved at the GWLA Spring Membership Meeting on March 10.

“We are thrilled to welcome West Virginia University Libraries as the newest member of the Greater Western Library Alliance,” said GWLA Board Executive Committee member Richard Clement. “The WVU Libraries and Press bring outstanding people, resources, and innovative thinking that will help position the consortia for the 21st century.”

GWLA is a dynamic, effective, project-oriented consortium of research libraries located in the central and western United States, nationally recognized as a leader in the transformation of scholarly communication, and a facilitator in the application of new information technologies. With the addition of WVU, there are 35 member institutions.

"Being a member of the Alliance will immediately benefit WVU faculty and students by giving them access to a wider array of special collections and resources," Provost Joyce McConnell said. "It also will open the door to many more projects and partnerships with other member institutions."

For WVU students and faculty, GWLA membership will bring faster access to research collections complementing the WVU Libraries’ own collections. Although WVU is outside of GWLA’s previous geographic footprint, eight of the schools are members of the Big XII Athletic Conference. Cawthorne said the WVU Libraries will gain peer partners for grants, professional development and special projects.

“I am delighted and humbled to join the 34 library leaders who make up Greater Western Library Alliance membership,” Dean of the WVU Libraries Jon Cawthorne said. “Their vote for membership acknowledges the importance of our collections and resources to the greater academic world, and foreshadows our WVU’s future as an innovative and great institution.”

The criteria for GWLA membership include land-grant university status, classification as a Research University (High Research Activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and unique collections that can contribute to the consortium.

In December 2014, a three-person GWLA team visited WVU for an on-site evaluation, similar to a college accreditation visit that analyzes collection size and scope, services and potential contributions to the alliance. The team was impressed with the West Virginia and Regional History Center (WVRHC), which preserves archives, manuscripts, maps, field recordings, artifacts, and other materials pertaining to the history of West Virginia, the central Appalachian region, and the Civil War. It is also now home to the John D. Rockefeller IV Senatorial Archives and the Pearl S. Buck Collection.

Under the leadership of President Gordon Gee and McConnell, WVU is laying the foundation to become a premier research institution. Over the past three years, faculty have conducted more than $500 million in sponsored contracts and research grants. In addition, during the ongoing $1-billion capital campaign, the WVU Foundation has raised almost $200 million earmarked for research initiatives.

WVU’s administration is committed to supporting the Libraries as a way to advance scholarship, creativity and interdisciplinary research. Over the last 10 years, WVU has invested $45 million in facility renovations.

The administration has also increased support to the library’s budget by 50 percent over the past decade. The WVU Libraries’ budget is $16 million for 2014-15.

The Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) is a consortium of research libraries located in the central and western United States. GWLA is a dynamic, effective, project-oriented consortium, nationally recognized as a leader in the transformation of scholarly communication, and a facilitator in the application of new information technologies. For additional information, visit the GWLA website or follow GWLA on Facebook.
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