Executive Committee Meeting

WESS Newsletter

Vol. 22, No. 2 (Spring, 1999)

February 2, 1999, Philadelpia

Present, Executive Committee: Stephen Lehmann, John Cullars, Heleni Pedersoli, Beau Case, Marianna McKim, Gordon Anderson, Leena Siegelbaum, Jeff Garrett, Nancy Boerner 
Others: Karl Fattig, Emily Horning, Tom Izbicki, Beth Remak- Honnef, Reinhart Sonnenburg, Ann Snoeyenbos, Bruce Swann, Marje Schuetze-Coburn, Carol Pfeiffer (ACRL), Betsy Wilson and Liz Cass (candidates for ACRL Chair-Elect)

Minutes: The minutes from June 30, 1998, were approved as published in the Newsletter.

Touzot Support for WESS

Stephen Lehmann noted his pleasure in reporting that Jean Touzot has offered financial support for speakers at WESS programs. John Cullars moved, and Nancy Boerner seconded, that Stephen draft an official resolution on the part of the Executive Committee, thanking Mr. Touzot for his offer to support WESS program speakers in the amount of $1000 a year. Approval was unanimous. Stephen will forward the resolution to ACRL and C&RL News.

20th Anniversary of WESS

Reinhart Sonnenburg reported that a celebration has been scheduled for Sunday evening, June 27. The consensus of the Executive Committee was strongly in favor of chartering a boat for a dinner cruise on the Mississippi River. Reinhart, Stephen Lehmann, and Nancy Boerner will explore options. Some vendors have indicated an interest in offering support.

Standing Committee Reports

Cataloging Issues

Karl Fattig reported that the committee has generated a list ossues it might address, including surveying the prevalence of minimal-level and less-than-minimal level cataloging for materials in Western European Languages; converting brief records supplied by microform set vendors to a higher standard of cataloging; and determining the prevalence of Western European language materials in backlogs. A summary and some recommendations will be presented at an open forum at the Annual Conference. Comments and suggestions may be sent to wesscat@polar.bowdoin.edu or to Karl (kfattig@bowdoin.edu). As the committee currently has ad hoc standing, Karl asked whether it needs to have its mandate renewed at the next annual meeting. Stephen Lehmann will investigate this question.

Conference Planning

Marianna McKim reported that the general meeting in New Orleans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of WESS with a program on “Western European Studies Librarianship: Looking Forward after 20 Years,” featuring James J. O’Donnell, Professor of Classical Studies and Vice Provost for Information Systems and Computing at the University of Pennsylvania, and Barbara Walden, European History Librarian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Roger Brisson will moderate. The program is scheduled for Monday, June 28, from 9:30-11:30.

The program of the 2000 conference will be dedicated to the memory of Mario Casalini, and will center on such topics as the Italian book trade, literature and culture, historical bibliography, and the Italian collections that Mario Casalini helped build in the United States. A co-sponsorship with RBMS may be invited. Appropriate WESS discussion groups, such as Romance Languages and Classical, Medieval and Renaissance, may be invited to participate by scheduling related programs.


Gordon Anderson reported that the committee plans to devise specific ways in which WESS can attract and welcome new members and engage them in WESS committees and projects. Possible activities in pursuit of this goal were discussed, including a mentoring program, a WESS-Web section for new members, and special hospitality to new members at ALA meetings.

Nijhoff Grant

Heleni Pedersoli reported that six excellent proposals were received, and one was chosen as the grant recipient. The winner will be announced by ACRL, and then on WESS-L and in the WESS Newsletter.


Beau Case announced the slate of candidates for 1999-2000: Vice-Chair/Chair-elect: Jeffrey Garrett and Marje Schuetze-Coburn; Secretary: Laura Dale Bischof and Kathleen Rutter; Member-at-large: Marianna McKim and Kati Radics. Tom Izbicki reported that the Committee for the 2000 election is working on a list of candidates.


Leena Siegelbaum reported that the online WESS Directory will include photographs of members on a voluntary basis. Bruce Swann will add a key to abbreviations used in the entries. All members are encouraged to list themselves in the Directory and keep their entries updated. Elisabeth Remak-Honnef will assume editorship of the WESS Newsletter in July; a column editor will be needed for “Bits & Bytes” after the next issue. Marje Schuetze-Coburn will manage WESS-L, which will migrate from Yale to the University of Southern California. WESS-Web coordinator Reinhart Sonnenburg announced the need for a subpage editor for instructional materials. Other issues concerning WESS-Web included adding annotations to entries, stating selection criteria, and setting update schedules.

Research and Planning

Jeffrey Garrett reported that the committee has examined the possibility and desirability of using for collection development purposes a database of items that have not been sold by the German vendor Otto Harrassowitz. Investigations by committee members of a sample of 1007 titles indicate that the Harrassowitz database can be taken as an approximation of what is and is not held in North American research libraries. It was recommended that Harrassowitz be urged to mount the complete database. The firm’s representatives agreed to proceed with the implementation, with completion expected by fall 1999. The committee will then coordinate further study, both within and outside the committee, and make recommendations as to how this database can be used to the greatest advantage.

Discussion Group Reports

Classical, Medieval and Renaissance

Bruce Swann reported on program choices for the meeting in June. A brief discussion was followed by Margaret Schaus’s (Haverford College) presentation of information on the Medieval Feminist Index, an index of journal articles, essays, and book reviews about “women, sexuality, and gender during the Middle Ages.”

College and Medium-Sized Libraries

Fred Jenkins reported that Tom Izbicki gave an update on the group’s long-standing project, the annual list of “Significant Scholarly European Titles” that appears in Choice each December. The group discussed adding important recent translations to the project, either as part of the current annual list or as a second list. Also discussed was the possibility of creating core lists of Western European newspaper and periodical titles suitable for smaller and medium-sized libraries. A listserv may be mounted in the near future.


Reinhart Sonnenburg reported that Jeff Garrett and colleagues presented a travelogue of their trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair in the fall of 1998. A full report is available on the “What’s New” page of the German Studies Web (http://gort.ucsd.edu/rsonn/wesswhat.html). Axel Schmetzke compared and discussed the performance of a number of Internet search engines in finding German-language materials on the Web. Roger Brisson reported on the progress of the ARL German Resources Project.

Romance Languages

Emily Horning reported that Jean-Pierre Sakoun, CEO of Bibliopolis SA (formerly Chadwyck-Healey France) spoke about his company’s products and described the current state of some digitization projects in France.


Charles Spetland reported that institutional news was shared and plans for the summer meeting in New Orleans were discussed. Its focus may be recent changes at the Norwegian and Danish national libraries, with representatives of those institutions as possible guests.

Social Sciences/History

Ann Snoeyenbos reported that the group will prepare a structured discussion on West European statistical data. Possible topics include country and regional level data, free data series, census/government information as opposed to commercially produced, and opportunities for sharing electronic resources and/or consortial purchase of data. Hank Harkin will solicit recommendations for speakers. Jennalyn Tellman will create a web page with links to electronic data. Links can be sent to her for inclusion: jennalyn@bird.library.arizona.edu.

ACRL Board Report

John Cullars reported on an ALA initiative to decrease the number of programs by grouping sectional programs together and making them competitive, with the possibility that some sections could not present programs even if they obtained outside funding. ACRL voiced strong concerns about the proposal, as sections often attract new members through their programs, smaller sections with specialized interests could repeatedly suffer in the competitive process, and program proposals would be due to ACRL prior to the election of vice-chairs who currently plan them. In response, ALA agreed not to “fast track” the proposal, and to deny programs only if it is impossible to schedule.

Bylaws Revision

Leena Siegelbaum presented proposed revisions to the WESS bylaws, noting that it has been 195 years [sic] since the last revision and that the bylaws no longer conform to the WESS Manual or to current practice. The revisions drafted by Leena with help from Stephen Lehmann and Nancy Boerner were reviewed by ACRL liaison Carol Pfeiffer. ACRL will use them as a model for other sections. Emendations include changing the name of the organization to the West European Studies Section; changing the wording of Article II. Object; allowing the nomination of only one candidate for an office, if more are unavailable; allowing the Executive Committee to make decisions by e-mail; allowing amendment of the bylaws by a simple majority of those voting, instead of two-thirds (to conform with ACRL practice). After much discussion, especially concerning the advisability of single candidates and simple majority approval, the consensus of the Executive Committee was that these were permissible. Marje Schuetze-Coburn suggested accompanying the proposed revision with an explanatory statement when it is sent to WESS members. Stephen Lehmann noted that information not explicitly stated in the Bylaws can be included in the WESS Manual. John Cullars will supervise revision of the WESS Manual next year. The bylaws revision will be voted on by the ACRL Bylaws Committee and the ACRL Board and, if approved there, will be presented to the WESS membership for a vote in spring 2000.

Developing Liaison Activities

Stephen Lehmann proposed developing liaison activities to other sections, such as ACLTS and Women’s Studies. Not only would these activities be enriching for WESS, they would also allow WESS to spread its own message and look for collaborative opportunities. Carol Pfeiffer noted that ALA and ACRL are strongly in favor of more coordination, although it tends to happen most often within, and not across, divisions. It benefits sections by keeping them in touch with issues in other groups and helping as a recruiting tool. There was support for establishing personal contacts, but concerns were voiced about finding the time to integrate liaison reporting into the current WESS structure. Jeff Garrett suggested using a Special Topics Discussion Group meeting at Midwinter for this purpose. Beth Remak-Honnef suggested including information in the Newsletter on liaison activities. Heleni Pedersoli will work with Stephen in an effort to identify liaisons.

ACRL Initiative Fund

The ACRL Board has established an ACRL Initiative Fund to provide opportunities for its member units to bring about change by challenging the status quo or exploring leading-edge ideas that will show tangible results to either ACRL, the profession of academic librarianship, or higher education. Grants will range from $500 to $2500. Stephen Lehmann asked the Executive Committee to try to generate ideas for appropriate projects. Carol Pfeiffer noted that there is an avenue to use the Initiative Fund to support travel in the context of a pilot project aimed at a long-term effort to produce cross-fertilization among groups.

Nancy Boerner, Secretary