The Music Library at WWU

First –  I have to confess I’ve never been.  Despite being a Western Alum my time there was rarely spent in locations beyond the classroom/library (yes, I did use the main library, and I may have walked by the Map Library once or twice).  My excuse is that I was often working 1 or 2 part-time jobs and raising a pre-schooler at the time therefore my life as a Western student involved mainly target strike missions whereas I go from car to class to car again.  Sometimes I regret not having being able to participate in campus life.

Second – I own an electric keyboard.  It was granted to me at the eve of my graduation from the aforementioned alma mater.  I spent several hours and days learning to bang out simple tunes.  Mostly only one handed.  Beyond typing my brain has difficulties coordinating the use of both hands at the same time in a productive manner :mrgreen: .  I’m thinking of doing what the old-timers do and tying my right hand up to force my brain into using its right side (opposites rule right?).  Then I put down my keyboard (or life got busier) and so set the pattern for the next few years.  Take keyboard out.  Find middle C.  Get a few (usually the same few) dinky little tunes out.  Put keyboard back.  Rinse and repeat.

So my relationship with the WWU Music Library has been non-existent but a tiny part of my brain thinks there may be resources in there that could help me become a true beginner player, or at least learn some warm up exercises.  It turns out I better start planning a trip sooner rather then later.  Western has announced that it has planned to annex the existing Music library and absorb the collections back into the mother ship, an announcement that has caused many community members and Music Library supporters/users much anguish (as judged by these comments to the Herald).

Jack Frymire (for the Bellingham Herald) wrote the essay that originally caught my attention outlining his support of preserving the Music Library. Some additional facts he brought to light are that the Music Library had recently undergone a $400k renovation that included material specific climate control variables for ongoing preservation.  He’s worried that the space would need to be retrofitted yet again for a different type of occupant, although maybe people like climate control too (we all need a little preserving sometimes 😉 ) More important than dollars and cents is community goodwill and expectations.  According to Frymire the Music Library has a vigorous and active Friends group and broad support.  This sort of passionate support is harder to come by than buildings and administrators.

Speaking of administrators- Frymire claimed that ‘some‘ of the administrators  “…dismissed such statements [of Friends suspending donation plans] as idle threats: “They’ll forget, or change their minds.” ”  I wish Frymire had named his source because I would hate to paint all those participating in this process as being unnecessarily derisive towards their best supporters.  For libraries, Friends groups are sacred, we love our Friends and would never take our Friends for granted or play them as the fool for future capital support.  I’m sure it is the same for the actual relations between the Music Friends and the Music Library and I hope there isn’t any hard feelings created by such an insensitive statement.  Donna Packer also expressed some concerns about the tone of that statement in a Letter to the Editor.

The question also remains, that if the Music Library is to stay in its location then what other services need to be cut.  The main Library’s budget will not be looking rosier this spring with additional state cuts… [insert appropriate sad emoticon here].  Here is an official blog posting from WWU Libraries that outlines more clearly the rationale for the current plan.  Good news is that there is currently no projected timeline for this consolidation (how about indefinitely?)

If you would like to help, here are some advocacy tools:

1.  Send suggestions and comments directly to the music library itself.  It may get to the converted first, but direct and vocal support from the public can only add to the tools they can use to advocate for their own preservation.

2. Direct financial support of the Music Library through monetary donations (sorry no online option currently …).  Put your money where your mouth is.  If you can. Unemployment rate being what it is…  😥

There may or may not be much ‘to do’ at this point, but staying involved and updated is always a good idea.

My thoughts thus far is that the music library is a tremendous resource for our university, it adds uniqueness to the campus.  If we have recently spent lots of $$ on retrofitting it AND will have to spend more on converting it to something else THAN it might not make  sense to move it to an less secure location at this time (less secure for the materials – students are still fairly safe in the library :mrgreen: ) although I have to admit I haven’t read through all the supporting documentation at this time:

I will be keeping an eye out to see how this situation resolves itself.

image of two eyes staring out of a pocket


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