Five Year Report 1999-2003


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY................................................................................ 2

ORGANIZATION & GOVERNANCE............................................................... 3

Name and Legal Status............................................................................. 3

Governance Structure............................................................................... 3

GWLA Board Chairs, 1999-2003......................................................... 4

Membership............................................................................................ 4

Staff....................................................................................................... 5

Fiscal Affairs........................................................................................... 5

STRATEGIC PLANNING.............................................................................. 6

ALLIANCE PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS........................................................ 7

Resource Sharing.................................................................................... 7

Interlibrary Loan............................................................................... 7

Cooperative Collection Development.................................................. 10

Digital Programs............................................................................. 11

Bioengineering Cooperative Resources Project.................................... 12

Scholarly Communication....................................................................... 13

The BioOne Electronic Publishing Project........................................... 14

GWLA Provost Meeting (February 2001)............................................ 15

Institutional Repositories.................................................................. 16

Building Capacities................................................................................. 18

Diversity Now Conference.............................................................. 18

Future Continuing Education Projects................................................ 19

GWLA Timeline: See attachment below this article


The Greater Western Library Alliance (previously known as the Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium) spent its first year of formal operation, 1998, organizing itself as a functioning research library consortium with an executive staff and operating budget. Additionally, work was begun on determining the resource sharing needs of the member libraries and the development of a strategic plan for the organization.

During the five years since, 1999 2003, the Alliance developed and implemented a variety of collaborative programs designed to enhance and supplement the critical information services that member libraries provide to their respective constituencies. Resource sharing initiatives developed during this period included interlibrary loan, electronic database licensing, cooperative collection development and digital library development. Additionally, the consortium was among the first library cooperative organizations to become directly involved in programs related to the important arena of scholarly communication and scholarly publishing.

Program highlights during this five-year period include:

  • Developing and launching the successful and innovative BioOne ( electronic publishing venture - 1999
  • Planning and development of the innovative Bioengineering Cooperative Resources Project ( - 1999
  • Organizing and hosting the well-attended conference Diversity Now: People, Collections and Services in Academic Libraries - 2000
  • Developing and preparing a document on best practices in interlibrary loan - 2000
  • Organizing and hosting a conference on scholarly communication issues for the provosts and library deans of the member institutions - 2001
  • Securing grant funding for the Western Waters Digital Library ( 2003

As it was increasing its program offerings during this time, the Alliance also expanded its membership ranks significantly, from 23 member libraries in 11 Midwestern and Western states at the end of 1998, to 30 member libraries in 15 states at the end of 2003. Members of the Greater Western Library Alliance are now found from the Mississippi River valley to the Pacific coast. Membership growth provided more dues revenue for programs and administration and the Alliance added a second professional staff position, a program officer for resource sharing, in 2000.


Name and Legal Status

In 1997, the members of what was then the Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium (BTP) voted to formalize the organizations structure by charging dues for membership in the consortium and hiring staff to develop and implement cooperative programs for the benefit of the member libraries. The consortiums first executive director was hired in March, 1998, and an office was established at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1999, the organization filed articles of incorporation with the State of Missouri and was organized officially as a nonprofit corporation on August 6, 1999. The company applied to the U. S. Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status soon after that and was designated as a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code on March 6, 2000.

At the time that a dues structure was adopted in 1997, the membership of the BTP consisted of seventeen (17) research libraries in ten states. The consortiums name stemmed from the fact that most of its members belonged to the Big 12 Athletic Conference, and this group of universities had provided the base around which the group coalesced. Over the next three years, membership increased to twenty-nine (29) members in fifteen states stretching from the Mississippi River watershed to the Pacific Ocean. Clearly, the name of the organization was no longer descriptive of its membership. The BTP Board of Directors created a task force in the fall of 2000 to study the issue.

A name change contest designed to garner input from staff of the respective member libraries was launched in late 2000 and a large number of entries were received and reviewed by a three-member jury. The selected name, Greater Western Library Alliance, was formally adopted by the deans/directors of the member libraries at their spring membership meeting in Provo, Utah on April 5, 2001. The new name of the organization became effective on October 1, 2001.

Governance Structure

The governance structure of the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) has evolved over the past five years in order to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly active collaborative organization. Originally, the consortium was governed by a three-person Executive Committee (Chair, Past Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect) that changed annually on the basis of an alphabetic rota of the member libraries. In April 1998, The Executive Committee voted to add the Linda Hall Library and the University of Kansas as ex officio members in recognition of their respective roles as fiscal agents of the consortium. The newly-hired Executive Director was also added to the committee as an ex officio member.

In recognition of the increasing size of the organization, the member libraries voted to expand the size of the Executive Committee further at the consortiums fall membership meeting in October 1998. Two at large voting seats were added to the Executive Committee as a result. A third at large board position was authorized by the members in the fall of 2000. The Executive Committee was re-named the Board of Directors in 1999 as a result of the organizations incorporation. In 2001, the alphabetic rota system for determining the next Chair of the Board was changed by the members to an elective system. A nominating committee is appointed by the GWLA Chair each spring to select a slate of candidates to assume open board positions at the conclusion of the upcoming fall membership meeting.

At the fall membership meeting in 2002, the members voted to make additional changes to the composition of the Board of Directors. Non-voting ex officio seats for GWLAs fiscal agents (Linda Hall Library, Arizona State University, and University of Kansas) were eliminated and the Linda Hall Library was given a voting ex officio seat as the consortiums primary fiscal agent. A new Budget and Finance Committee was created (to include all three fiscal agents plus two additional board members) as well, to advise the Board on financial matters and to manage the organizations annual budget process.

The GWLA Board of Directors meets quarterly either in person or via conference call.

The deans/directors of the member libraries represent their respective institutions at two membership meetings per year. The meetings are held in the spring and fall of each year and are rotated regularly among member institutions.

In addition to the Budget and Finance Committee, the organization has two other standing committees, Collection Development and Resource Sharing/Document Delivery (formerly ILL). Both committees are responsible for major program initiatives within the consortium and both meet at least once a year. At the end of 2003, a new governance document related to the organization and structure of these committees was being developed by the Board of Directors and staff. Program initiatives other than those overseen by the two standing committees are managed by ad hoc task forces appointed by the Board of Directors.

GWLA Board Chairs, 1999-2003

1999 Fred M. Heath, Dean of the Library, Texas A&M University

2000 Dale E. Cluff, Dean of Libraries, Texas Tech University

2001 James F. Williams II, Dean of Libraries, University of Colorado at Boulder

2002 Joan R. Giesecke, Dean of Libraries, University of Nebraska Lincoln

2003 Olivia M. A. Madison, Dean of Library Services, Iowa State University


As noted, membership in the Greater Western Library Alliance has increased by approximately 30% over the past five years, with the addition of seven (7) new members during that time. GWLA now has member libraries in the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. A complete list of members libraries can be found at Member Libraries. The last member to join GWLA was Washington University in St. Louis, which was voted in by the membership in 2002.

A demographic profile of the membership includes the following features:

       25 GWLA members (80%) belong to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

       13 GWLA members (43%) belong to the Association of American Universities (AAU).

       24 GWLA members (80%) belong to the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC).

Current criteria for membership, as outlined in the organizations Bylaws are as follows:

         Holds membership in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL);

         Belongs to a university that has been classified Research I by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching;

         Belongs to a university that has been classified as an 1862 type land-grant institution;

         Possesses other unique and extraordinary qualifications as part of a research facility or with its own specific research mission.


The consortiums Executive Director, Adrian W. Alexander, was hired in March 1998. He has worked closely with the GWLA Board of Directors and the member libraries since then to develop and implement the consortiums program activities, to manage GWLAs business affairs and represent the organization in the library community.

The organizations growth to 30 members in 1999 and early 2000, as well as the increasing number of projects which were being discussed and developed, led the GWLA Board of Directors to authorize the creation of a second professional staff position. The Program Officer for Resource Sharing serves as primary staff liaison to the interlibrary borrowing/lending and cooperative collection development initiatives of the consortium. Anne E. McKee began her work as GWLAs program officer in July 2000.

GWLA also receives part-time clerical staff assistance from its host institution, the Linda Hall Library. Erin Stockman, assistant to the President of the Linda Hall Library, assists the Executive Director with financial management activities.

For more information on GWLAs professional staff, visit the website at

Fiscal Affairs

The Greater Western Library Alliance operates on a fiscal year that coincides with the calendar year. An annual operating budget is proposed by the Executive Director and approved by the Board of Directors. Beginning in 1993, the newly-created Budget and Finance Committee worked closely with the Executive Director to review FY03 budget management and to develop an FY04 budget proposal for the Board.

The Alliances primary revenue source is annual membership dues, which are billed and collected prior to the beginning of each fiscal year. The dues structure is a flat rate per institution, regardless of size. The amount per library has remained constant since it was implemented in 1998, so budget growth has been a function of membership growth over the past five years. During that time, the consortiums operating budget has grown from just over $263,000 in FY99 to $397,222 in FY03.

Additional, though modest, revenue for GWLA comes from two other sources: interest income and database licensing service charges. As the headquarters of the Alliance, Linda Hall Library serves as primary fiscal agent for the consortium by paying bills on its behalf and collecting and depositing income. An important benefit of this arrangement for GWLA has been the ability to earn investment interest on its cash by being part of the librarys sizable investment program.

Interest income to GWLA has varied each year, according to the size of cash reserves at the end of the year and according to interest rates. The Alliance began earning interest income in 2000 with over $15,000 that year. Continuing revenues from interest have not been as robust as interest rates declined in subsequent years. The annual average for GWLA interest income between 2000 and 2003, however, has been just over $8,000. FY03 interest income was significantly improved (60%) over FY02 after new cash flow management practices were developed and implemented early in the year.

Interest income earned by GWLA is put in the consortiums operating reserve. In 2002, the GWLA Board of Directors set a goal to build the operating reserve to an amount equivalent to nine months worth (75%) of recurring operating expenses within three years. In FY 2003, GWLA was able to establish an operating reserve that was 72 percent of the recurring expenses budget, up from just over 68 percent in 2002.

The Alliances increasingly active database licensing program (see Resource Sharing, below) now includes not only member libraries, but also other academic libraries that have a relationship with a GWLA member through another cooperative program. In 2002, the Board of Directors authorized a surcharge to be added to database invoices from GWLA to non-member libraries to help recoup the cost of providing this service to those libraries. This program went into effect with the renewal of several database license agreements for 2003 and resulted in revenue for the Alliance of just over $2,600.


(The current GWLA Strategic Plan Outline can be viewed at:

Strategic planning became an integral part of the Alliances management approach beginning in 1998. A needs assessment report compiled after site visits to all members by the Executive Director provided the basis for the consortiums first strategic planning retreat in the fall of that year. The retreat was held in conjunction with the fall membership meeting and was attended by many of the member library deans/directors. It was facilitated by Lee Blank, a faculty member at Texas A&M University, which hosted the meeting. Four major program areas were identified during that retreat:

         Resource Sharing (including ILL, cooperative collection development, and digitization)

         Scholarly Communication

         Continuing Education

         Preservation & Conservation

Review and updating of the original strategic plan outline has been done regularly over the past five years, involving both the Board of Directors as well as the membership as a whole. The addition of new members during this time has provided fresh viewpoints and ideas for new projects.

A second planning retreat was held at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2000 and was facilitated by library management consultant Lou Wetherbee. This session provided the members with the opportunity to review and update consortium programs and goals. Next steps and potential strategic partners for each project were identified, and strategies for implementation were reviewed and revised where needed. Almost all current initiatives were retained, though some were combined or folded into other programs (Ex. the preservation and conservation program has become part of digital initiatives).

A complete review of the GWLA strategic plan was conducted by the Board of Directors and the membership over the course of 2003. The highlight of this process was a series of breakout sessions for deans/directors at the fall membership meeting at the University of Washington. Each breakout group focused on one program area: Resource Sharing, Scholarly Communication, and Building Capacities (formerly Continuing Education). The members provided valuable feedback to the Board of Directors and staff on the effectiveness and perceived value of the Alliances projects, communications programs and basic operations. The Board and staff have incorporated these ideas into revisions to the strategic plan that will be presented to the membership at the Spring 2004 membership meeting.


Resource Sharing

Interlibrary Loan

The Resource Sharing/Document Delivery (formerly the Interlibrary Loan) Committee is the oldest standing committee of the Greater Western Library Alliance. This dynamic group was first organized pre-Big 12 Plus, in the days of the original group, the Greater Midwest Research Libraries Consortium. The reciprocal borrowing agreement that was implemented at that time was the first (and for several years only) programmatic activity in the consortium. Although the membership of the consortium has expanded significantly since the committees early incarnation, this group continues to be a cohesive, vibrant, leading-edge group for interlibrary loan, resource sharing and document delivery.

The primary focus of this committee is the Alliances reciprocal borrowing agreement among consortium members, regardless of size or funding. It is important to note that while each new GWLA member must agree to the interlibrary loan policies of the consortium, being a signator of the ILL reciprocity agreement is not a condition of membership. Of the thirty current members of the Greater Western Library Alliance, however, twenty-nine have signed the reciprocity agreement.

Each GWLA member library is represented on the RS/DD Committee, which has met annually each spring since 1999. The staff liaison to this committee is Anne McKee, Program Officer for Resource Sharing. A committee chair is appointed by the GWLA Board of Directors to serve a two-year term of office. The current board chair is Lorraine Borchers, Oregon State University.

Several task forces have been established within the framework of the RS/DD Committee over the past fivc years to address a variety of ILL-related issues:

ILL Best Practices This task force was created by the Big 12 Plus Executive Committee in May 1999 to review ILL practices and standards among the member libraries, identify barriers to more effective cooperation, and to identify Best Practices to use within the structure of policies/procedures/beliefs which would provide the level of service expected by most of our patrons. The task force, chaired by Lars Leon, University of Kansas, completed its work in late 2000 and submitted its final report to the Board of Directors in January 2001. The report and its findings were accepted by the membership in April of that year and have provided the basis for ongoing work undertaken by the RS/DD committee to improve effectiveness since then. The task forces report was published in the July 2003 issue of portal: Libraries and the Academy.

ILL Automation Specifications Task Force In the first strategic planning retreat in 1998, the members had identified the design and development of a technical framework for collaborative, patron-initiated ILL as a strategic priority for the Alliance. An opportunity to collaborate with OCLC in testing their product in this area presented itself that same year. In 1999, the consortium embarked on a pilot project to test OCLCs Distributed Resource Sharing System (DRSS) software. Eight member libraries participated in the pilot project, which continued until October 2001, when OCLC made a strategic decision not to continue development of the software.

As the pilot project was winding down, the Alliance had already formed a task force to develop functional specifications for a collaborative ILL system. This group, chaired by Carol Kochan at Utah State University, began evaluating logical next steps for the consortium in the summer of 2001. A survey of current systems in use in the consortium was conducted and a review of ISO-compliant, stand-alone ILL systems was completed. The task force recommended further study into the feasibility of more GWLA members adopting Colorado State Universitys RAPID system, albeit strictly on a voluntary basis.

Subsequent study by GWLA staff in 2002 with regard to the RAPID system indicated that large-scale expansion of RAPID was a major challenge for Colorado State at that time as it continued to be in 2003. Meanwhile, ongoing evaluation of ILL systems for future possible use by the Alliance continues to be a key objective for the group.

ILL Task Force on Expedited Shipping In late 1997, the consortium signed a contract with United Parcel Service (UPS) for expedited shipping of returnable ILL materials. Member libraries experienced varied degrees of success with this program over the past few years, and some members chose instead to utilize existing local or state contracts with other shippers such as Fedex to send materials to Alliance members.

In 2001, the Board of Directors directed the ILL Committee to initiate an RFP process in order to find another potential shipper for the consortium. Proposals were solicited from several shippers in the Fall of 2001, but no acceptable bids were received, and the existing contract with UPS was not renewed in 2002. Member libraries pledged to continue providing expedited shipping to GWLA members via existing local contracts, and a survey conducted in early 2003 indicated that this arrangement was continuing to work well for everyone.

ILL Data Points Task Force - In October 2002, the GWLA Board of Directors authorized the formation of a task force to develop a mechanism for determining whether member libraries are in compliance with the consortiums ILL borrowing agreement, which had been revised and updated by the ILL committee the previous year. The committee had noted that no procedures existed for collecting performance-related data or provisions for enforcement when non-compliance issues arose. The task force, chaired by Lorraine Borchers, Oregon State University, submitted its report to the Board in January 2003. Recommendations in the report included data points to be collected as well as methodologies for collecting the data. Additionally, recommendations were made on steps to be taken when a member library was not meeting the requirements of the borrowing agreement. The recommendations were accepted by the Board with minor changes, and the borrowing agreement monitoring system is now in use by the RS/DD Committee.

In 2004, the RS/DD Committee aims to come to final agreement and implement the necessary steps needed on exactly how ILL statistics should be collected and disseminated among the member institutions. Accordingly, these statistics would also be used to chart the required turnaround time among the GWLA reciprocity members and used (if need be) to place institutions on probation for failing to meet minimum standards.

Document Supplier Task Force This task force, chaired by Lee Hilyer, Rice University, was organized by the ILL Committee in 2001 to gather data on usage of document delivery services by member libraries. The resulting report from this group enabled GWLA to develop several document delivery contracts on behalf of its member libraries, including:

The British Library - GWLA began testing the current awareness database in mid-2002. Another test project has been in process in 2003 for GWLA members using the British Library INSIDE product. During the trial, the annual INSIDE subscription fee has been waived while processing and copyright fees remain as usual. This trial is up for review by June 2004.

CISTI A test project began in 2003 for GWLA members utilizing CISTIs document delivery services. During the trial, CISTI has offered GWLA members a 15% discount off their fees while processing and copyright fees remain as usual. This trial is up for review in April 2004

Linda Hall Library This long-time GWLA member is a major document delivery provider to individuals and other libraries for materials in science, technology, and engineering. Linda Hall provides preferential pricing to all GWLA member libraries.

Cooperative Collection Development

The Collection Development Committee is the other standing committee of the Alliance. It was formalized in 1999 after cooperative collection development was identified by the member libraries as a strategic program. Each GWLA member library is represented on the committee, which meets twice a year, at each ALA conference. The staff liaison to this committee is Anne McKee, Program Officer for Resource Sharing. Committee co-chairs are appointed by the GWLA Board of Directors to serve a two-year term of office. The current co-chairs are Jeanne Richardson, Arizona State University and Gary Ives, Texas A&M University.

Joint purchase of critical electronic resources was seen as a likely place to begin collaboration. Because the consortium had no prior history of cooperation in this area, however, impetus was slow to develop initially. In more recent years, however, collaborative licensing has emerged as one of GWLAs most active programs. Indeed, several GWLA members have stated that the consortium is now their first choice to turn to when pursuing consortial discounts. Electronic resources purchasing activities began in 2001 with license agreements with ACM, Alexander Street Press and BioOne. By 2003, GWLA had license agreements with the following publishers and vendors:


ASM Handbooks

Alexander Street Press

Annual Reviews



China Academic Press





Oxford University Press

Project Euclid

Vanderbilt Television News Archive


In a report submitted to the GWLA members in October 2003, Program Officer Anne McKee calculated that current joint licensing agreements offered through the Alliance to its member libraries had resulted in total savings off of publishers list prices of more than $1.3 million.

Digital Programs

At its first strategic planning retreat in 1998, Alliance members identified the development of specialized, consortium-wide digital collections in subject areas that support common instruction and research missions of the member institutions as a key strategic program.

Architecture Slide Project - The consortiums first foray into cooperative digital projects was in conjunction with an effort by the architecture schools of the Big 12 universities to build a digital library of architecture slides. Several Alliance members expressed interest in the project, and a task force, chaired by Beth McNeil, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was organized to determine the feasibility of such an initiative and a survey was conducted. After several months of study and discussion, it was agreed that the project, by now called the Great Plains Image Bank Consortium, was more suitable for development by the architecture schools as a group than by the libraries, and the Big 12 Plus disbanded its task force in 1999.

Western Waters Digital Library After gathering more information on what consortium members were doing locally with regard to digital library projects, the Alliance began in 2000 to look at a project focused on water resource issues in the western U.S. Several new members from the western states were participating in a discussion on developing a cooperative digital program in the West. The University of Utah was part of this discussion as well and was particularly interested in the water resource issue as a topic. Discussions within the consortium continued and a digital projects task force was created in early 2001, chaired by Kenning Arlitsch, University of Utah. The group met via conference calls and in person during the remainder of the year and a prospectus for the project was drafted ( in order to begin seeking potential funding sources.

The Western Waters Digital Library (WWDL) would serve as a much-needed, freely and widely accessible information resource from a geographically dispersed consortium of major universities. Water usage and conservation is a major policy issue in the Western U.S., as natural water scarcity in the region is combined with the highest current growth rate in the country. Currently, no federal or state agency or other organization of any kind provides a comprehensive information resource about water to researchers, policy makers, educators and citizens.

In early 2002, GWLA submitted a proposal to the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant to fund development of the project. This initial proposal was not funded by IMLS but the Alliance re-submitted the proposal in early 2003, followed by a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in April of that year. In September 2003, GWLA was notified by IMLS that it would receive a grant of approximately $250,000 to help fund Phase One of the Western Waters Digital Library. Total project cost for Phase One, which focuses on the watersheds of the Colorado, Columbia, Platte and Rio Grande rivers, is almost $453,000. The Alliance will cost-share the project with IMLS (the proposal to NSF was not funded for 2003) and will continue to seek additional funding for continuation of the project. More information about the Western Waters Digital Library is available at

Bioengineering Cooperative Resources Project

This innovative project began as an ad hoc effort by representatives of a small number of GWLA members organized initially as the Science Collection Development Project Group in October 1999. The group was charged to investigate and explore areas of research interest within the member institutions and types of collections-related projects in the sciences and technology that the consortium might wish to pursue as a cooperative collection development project. A number of research areas were examined, with the group eventually recommending that bioengineering be the initial subject area explored in depth. The group also developed and recommended a set of 14 guiding principles and a model ( to guide consortium evaluations and decisions on potential joint projects, regardless of subject focus.

These principles took the bioengineering project beyond the boundaries of a strict collection development initiative. The model developed by the group emphasized the need to look at the idea of cooperative resources more broadly, so that services such as reference, bibliographic instruction, preservation (digital and print) and interlibrary loan were taken into account and included in the development of the project.

The BTP/GWLA member libraries accepted the principles, model, and choice of bioengineering as an initial target area at their Spring 2000 membership meeting. The Science Collection Development Project Group was then reconstituted as the Bioengineering Cooperative Resources Task Force. It was also decided at that time that the project should be divided into two parts, first with a planning group, followed by an implementation group. The degree of overlap between memberships of the two groups would be determined at a later date.

Members of a planning group were recruited from all consortium members. Chaired by Mel Desart, University of Washington, that group met initially at the University of Utah in November 2000, with 17 member libraries represented. Participants were given a history of the group to date, plus a brief overview of the discussions that led to development of the 14 principles and model. After several meetings and teleconferences, an initial draft of a report was circulated to the members of the planning group in December 2001 and discussed at a meeting at Midwinter 2002. The report was revised significantly based on input from that meeting and a draft was re-distributed in March 2002. The report was presented to the deans/directors of the GWLA member libraries that same month and the recommendation that the project continue to the implementation phase was approved.

The implementation group was organized over the summer of 2002 and is chaired by Doug Jones, University of Arizona. This new group continued meeting via conference calls and at ALA conferences during the remainder of 2002 and throughout 2003. The subject scope of the project is focused initially on three sub-areas of bioengineering:

         Bioprocess engineering encompassing use of microorganisms in industrial, medical, environmental or agricultural processes and the engineering analysis to describe the related chemical and physical processes of complex biological systems;

         Bioenvironmental engineering involving the application of various chemical and biological systems technology to address a variety of environmental concerns;

         Bioresource engineering that utilizes physical and biological sciences to solve problems related to the production, storage, and utilization of natural products.

A website has been created for the project at Iowa State University at as the first component of a larger effort to provide collaborative content and a network of expertise to support bioengineering-related efforts of the GWLA institutions. Resources to be added to the website include: indexes and abstracts, data collections, reference works, core journals, full text collections, Internet sites, related organizations, academic programs, and reports.

Scholarly Communication

The development of programs that directly address the challenges that the Alliances members face with respect to the rapidly changing scholarly publishing arena has proven to be the consortiums most high profile efforts. GWLAs involvement in scholarly communication issues can be traced to April 1998, when the Executive Director and two members of the Executive Committee attended a meeting of the Big 12 chief academic officers at Oklahoma State University. At that meeting, University of Kansas provost David Shulenburger introduced a document advocating that those universities, in collaboration with other higher education associations, scholarly societies, and not-for-profit publishers, must devise a collective action agenda to address the effective management of intellectual property in order to protect and promote scholarly communication. This document ( was approved by the provosts and the alliance offered to help publicize their position by drafting and disseminating a press release. An article about the initiative appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education the following month.

This initial contact with provosts of a number of our institutions led to continued conversations with these key influencers and paved the way for GWLA to become a major player in the larger scholarly communication arena. A stated goal of the Alliance in the first iteration of the strategic plan in 1998 was to become a change agent and national influencer in efforts to return control of the scholarly communication process to the academy. During the five year period between 1999 and 2003, GWLA developed three key programs as part of this strategic initiative.

The BioOne Electronic Publishing Project

During 1998 and early 1999, the University of Kansas and the consortiums Executive Director were engaged in a series of conversations with Allen Press of Lawrence, Kansas regarding that companys efforts to become more involved in electronic publishing of the scholarly journals that it produced in print for over 300 scientific societies. In April of 1999, shortly before the spring membership meeting, Dean Bill Crowe of Kansas received a proposal from Allen Press and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) to collaborate in the creation of an aggregated database of scholarly, not-for-profit journals in the biological and environmental sciences. The proposal appeared to provide an opportunity to address two critical needs in the scholarly communication process: an academy-based alternative for electronic publishing of journals by scholarly societies that lacked the financial and technical resources to become electronic publishers, and the continuing need for academic libraries to acquire high quality scientific literature at a more reasonable cost.

At the Big 12 Plus spring membership meeting in April, 1999, the member libraries quickly endorsed the new electronic publishing proposal and authorized the Executive Director to look further into how the consortium might utilize this unique opportunity to become an agent for change in scholarly publishing rather than merely another advocate for change. As one library dean noted, This is the most important thing we can be doing right now.

One of the most challenging aspects of the proposal from Allen Press and AIBS was the need for development funding. If the initiative were to be non-profit and academy-based, which was the original aim, funding would need to come from grants or sources within the academy. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (, was approached the following month, and that key organization agreed to be part of the collaboration and to assist in raising development funding. The bulk of that funding, over $600,000, came from the SPARC members (including most Alliance members) and is being repaid to the library community through subscription credits over a five-year period. Additionally, the consortium contributed almost $60,000 of its own reserves to the project in 1999 (plus an additional $25,000 in 2002), while the provosts of the Big 12 universities contributed another $50,000 of their own discretionary funds.

Ultimately, five organizations collaborated to launch this innovative publishing venture, now known as BioOne: University of Kansas, SPARC, BTP/GWLA, Allen Press, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences. A working group of volunteers from each of these founding organizations was formed to develop the project and launch the database, and BioOne was incorporated as a not-for-profit company in Washington, DC in early 2000. The companys board of directors includes two seats for each founding organization. The Alliance has been represented on the BioOne Board by its Executive Director, Adrian Alexander, and the Chair of the consortiums Board. Currently, that board seat is held by Betsy Wilson, University of Washington. Alexander has served as BioOnes Treasurer since the company was founded in 2000. BioOnes President, Heather Joseph, was hired in August of that year and has led the company throughout its database development, the launch of the product in April 2001, and its continued growth in 2003.

Operationally, the first three years of BioOnes presence in the marketplace have been a success. The goal of BioOnes founding organizations was to launch the database with a minimum of 30 scholarly journals; there were 40 online when the product went live in 2001. In 2003, the BioOne database contained 70 journals and counted over 350 libraries and other institutions in the U.S. and Canada as subscribers, along with a growing number of international customers as well. While the amount of content has increased at a quite respectable rate (83,676 in 2001 vs. 184,618 in 2003), usage of the database has skyrocketed. Total hits on the database in 2001 were only about 185,000, but increased to over 800,000 in 2002 as more subscribers came online and the product became more widely known. In the first half of 2003, activity averaged about 250,000 hits per month until BioOne concluded negotiations with Google to index the full text of all content on the database. Usage jumped quickly to 900,000 hits in October and 1.1 million in November 2003. Total hits in 2003 exceeded 2.5 million. More importantly, the average hits per page rose significantly, from 2.21 in the first year of availability to 13.6 hits per page in 2003.

GWLA Provost Meeting (February 2001)

Alliance board members and staff had continued to meet regularly with the Big 12 provosts ever since the initial meeting in April 1998, but as the consortium added new members, it became evident that the conversation between library deans and chief academic officers needed to be expanded as well. Planning began in the summer of 2000 for a meeting that would focus on the noted Tempe Principles that were agreed upon earlier that year by some 40 various stakeholders in the scholarly communication process.

( As Sarah Michalak (University of Utah), one of the meeting organizers, said, We need to engage the provosts in a discussion of what the principles really mean at the institutional level. We want their endorsement of the principles, but more importantly, we need their involvement in developing action plans for implementing the principles.

Billed as a Return to Tempe, the meeting was hosted by Arizona State University (Provost Milton Glick and Library Dean Sherrie Schmidt) in Tempe on February 9 and 10, 2001. In attendance were 23 provosts and 25 library deans from the consortiums member institutions. Invited guests included George Strawn of the National Science Foundation, Heather Joseph of BioOne, and Stanley Chodorow, former provost of the University of Pennsylvania and a frequent speaker on scholarly communication issues. Chodorow facilitated a series of work sessions on the second day of the meeting that examined the various Tempe Principles by looking at the following themes:

  • The Promise and Requirements of E-Publication
  • Copyright Issues of Control and Fair Use
  • The Economy of Scholarly Communication

At the conclusion of these thought-provoking discussions, Provost David Shulenburger (University of Kansas) summed up the ideas proposed and outlined a list of next steps for the group:

  • Pursue the feasibility of developing an array of scholars portal initiatives within the BTP, utilizing existing technical standards, and including discipline-specific, customized scholarly content.
  • Support the development of electronic journals that dramatically reduce costs to libraries, or which fill in gaps in the literature. Additionally, look for best practices for creating sizzle in the academy Ex., Arizonas Journal of Insect Science.
  • Encourage faculty at BTP institutions to sign the open letter on the Public Library of Science website, and work with journal editors on our campuses to commit their respective publications to the PLS concept. Finally, we should work with funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation to create an archive similar to Pub Med Central.
  •  Pursue the feasibility of adopting a resolution that would be crafted and sent from the BTP provosts and their library deans to the National Science Board, requesting consideration of a new NSF policy that supports and implements the Public Library of Science concept for all NSF-funded research.
  • Examine the feasibility of adopting the Triangle Research Library Network copyright model for use in the Big 12 Plus.

Attendees were encouraged by the discussion and the ideas generated by the group. There was a clear sense that the issues raised were important ones for the institutions represented and that the consortiums scholarly communications initiative should continue to be a major segment of the organizations strategic plan. In the three years since the meeting in Tempe, almost all of the next steps agreed to by the provosts have been pursued in one way or another by this consortium or by other affiliated organizations such as SPARC and ARL.

Institutional Repositories

GWLAs involvement with the institutional repositories movement in higher education began in 2001 with conversations about electronic publishing software with Berkeley Electronic Press (Bepress). This step was a direct result of one of the action items endorsed by the provosts at Tempe (Viz. - Support the development of electronic journals that dramatically reduce costs to libraries, or which fill in gaps in the literature.) Several consortium members attended a demo of the Bepress software at Arizona State University in August 2001. That fall, a task force, headed by Deb Carver (University of Oregon) was formed to evaluate a proposal from Bepress, look at other similar packages available, and to determine the feasibility of a pilot project in campus-based scholarly publishing.

The task force compiled a list of twenty possible products to review and completed a comprehensive review of eight of the major ones. The group also talked with the California Digital Library (CDL) about their recent partnership with Bepress. CDL staff were pleased with Bepress, but doubted whether faculty were ready yet to make the transition to doing their publishing in a different way. In its interim report to the GWLA Board in January 2002, the task force raised several key questions regarding the consortiums role in this type of e-publishing initiative. One major issue to be addressed was determining whether there were editors on our respective campuses that were truly interested in moving to self-publishing model such as that offered by Bepress.

At the spring membership meeting in March 2002, there was considerable interest expressed in having the task force continue to work on this project. It was suggested that more information be gathered by the task force on what was happening around the consortium with e-publishing with an eye toward developing a program on the topic at the fall membership meeting. The task force met next at the ALA Annual Conference that summer and discussed various initiatives that were being developed around the country, including the Dspace repository initiative at MIT. At the same time, the recently published SPARC white paper on institutional repositories ( was attracting attention across the Alliance, and it was decided to focus the fall membership program on that specific aspect of the e-publishing movement.

A survey was sent to member libraries in September 2002 to gather data on whether this issue was a priority yet. At the membership meeting in early October, the program on institutional repositories (IR) included presentations by Betsy Wilson (University of Washington) and Kimberley Douglas (Cal Tech) on their respective IR projects, along with results of the survey. Responses indicated medium to high interest among at least half the membership in developing IRs, but there were many concerns expressed about taking on another project such as this in times of tight budgets and many other pressing needs. GWLAs role with respect to IRs was seen primarily as one of information sharing, education and advocacy, but the idea of developing some kind of collaborative IR project within the Alliance was discussed as well.

A conference on IRs hosted by SPARC was scheduled in Washington DC soon after the GWLA fall meeting and quite a few members were attending, so it was agreed that a logical next step was to meet as a group at the end of that conference to discuss future planning. Representatives from 15 GWLA libraries met at this IR caucus and discussed logical next steps for the consortium. A new task force was to be set up to develop a plan for a federated IR model for GWLA and to look for possible links to existing projects within the group. The survey conducted earlier in the fall would be updated and re-sent to the members to gather more information on local planning, technical issues, policies, etc. from all member libraries. Finally, a page on the GWLA website would be created where information about repositories, both inside and outside of GWLA, could be found.

The new task force, headed by Ginny Steel (Washington State University), began work on a new survey, which was sent to the members in February 2003. Responses were received from 22 members. While a few more members were actively involved in planning IRs on their campuses, the initiatives was still of only medium interest to most members, with no immediate plans for implementation. Financial, technical, and organizational impediments were frequently cited as obstacles to faster development.

One potential collaborative IR project was discussed by the task force in 2003. The idea of working with university presses on our various campuses to digitize their out-of-print monographs and make them available through a federated model was explored with several press directors. This project was abandoned in the Fall of 2003, however, due to lack of interest from the presses and concerns about the availability of grant funding. At the end of 2003, the work of the IR task force was focused on gathering information from the members on future plans for repositories as well as on other open access initiatives.

Building Capacities

As noted in the section on strategic planning, this program area originally focused on continuing education. It now includes goals and strategies related to organizational development of the consortium itself, and most of the accomplishments over the past five years in that arena have been covered previously under Organization and Governance. Continuing Education continues to be a part of GWLAs strategic plan and though it has not received as much attention as other initiatives, one major project was undertaken early on and was successfully implemented.

Diversity Now Conference

At the initial strategic planning retreat in 1998, many of the deans/directors suggested that a conference on diversity issues in academic libraries would be a valuable program for the members. Camila Alire (Colorado State University) agreed to lead the steering committee, which also included Joan Giesecke (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Carolyn Snyder (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale), Jim Williams (University of Colorado at Boulder) and Adrian Alexander, Executive Director. Other librarians from Colorado State, the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Illinois University, and Texas A&M University served on program, public relations, fundraising, and local arrangements committees.

After months of planning from late 1998 throughout 1999, the conference took place in April 2000 in the Austin Marriott at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. Over 180 attendees from around the region and around the country were on hand, and featured speakers came from Texas, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Florida. More than fifty other sessions, including contributed papers, panel discussions, table talks, and poster sessions were presented over the course of the two-day conference. Over a dozen volunteers donated hundreds of hours to the development and implementation of what was, by all accounts, a highly successful professional development experience. Generous financial support from Bell & Howell Learning and Information, Elsevier Science, Faxon, Swets Blackwell, Yankee Book Peddler, and Netlibrary enabled the Alliance to present the conference in a high-quality, enjoyable setting, including a wonderful reception complete with live music by noted Texas singer/songwriter Tish Hinojosa. For more information on the Diversity Now conference, go to

At the conclusion of this conference, the organizers encouraged the library community to continue to develop additional national diversity conferences in other parts of the country. A 2004 conference is currently being planned in Atlanta by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) and the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET).

Future Continuing Education Projects

At the end of 2003, two binding workshops were being planned for Spring 2004. This initiative is the result of direct feedback from several member libraries and is being organized and will be presented by preservation librarians in the consortium. These workshops may serve as a model for future continuing education offerings from GWLA.

Lars Hagelin,
Apr 9, 2008, 7:53 PM