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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wilson Library making renovations to increase accessibility

“We are an increasingly diverse nation and community, and as such, Western has a responsibility to create a welcoming, inclusive and workable environment,” Frank Haulgren, facilities and assessment coordinator for Wilson Library, said.

By Micah Evangelista

Wilson Library is undergoing a number of renovation projects this summer. All the projects are designed to make the programs, locations and university as a whole a more inclusive and accessible place for students and staff of all backgrounds and needs.

The disAbility Resources for Students, Veteran Services and Map Collection are seeing relocation and renovation onto the first floor of the library. The relocation will provide a more collaborative, informative and positive environment for students and staff of both the DRS and Veterans Services, David Brunnemer, registrar and director of the DRS and Veteran Services, said.

In addition, a gender-neutral bathroom is being constructed on the first floor of Wilson Library, just off the main corridor next to the current women’s bathroom.

“It’s definitely going to be better,” Brunnemer said. “The current locations of the DRS and Veteran Services were never meant to last long term, and yet they’ve been there for years.”

Brunnemer has seen a slow, but steady increase of students using both programs. He thinks the new location will allow for more expansion of the program in the future.

“There is a lot of overlap between the two programs,” Brunnemer said. “Many Veterans use the DRS, so this relocation will allow for the programs to work together much more.”

The new location in the first floor of Wilson Library is much closer to the main bus stop, which will allow easier access to those going to and from the DRS, Brunnemer said.

The new DRS location will feature a common space lounge, proctor’s desk, lounge area and a comfortable space for the Veterans Services. Overall, it will be in a more central location, providing easier access for its students.

The primary mission of the DRS is to ensure equal access for students with disAbilities to all curricular and co-curricular opportunities offered by Western Washington University, according to its mission statement on Western’s website. Western’s Veterans Services office provides comprehensive services to veterans, service members and their dependents as they pursue their education.

If all goes according to plan, the DRS and Veterans Services should be fully operational in their new locations by spring 2019. Until then, each is available in its current location in Old Main.

In order to accommodate the relocation of these programs, the Map Collection will also be relocated. The collection is home to over 70,000 maps and cartographic resources.

“The Map Collection will move to the second floor of Wilson Library, making the collections and the staff expertise that supports it more readily accessible,” Frank Haulgren, facilities and assessment coordinator for Wilson Library, said.

“The renovated space on [the second floor of Wilson] will also provide instructional space for classes, using maps and presentation space for the libraries’ ‘Speaking of Maps’ lectures and other relevant presentations,” he said.

The staff members are excited for the relocation, Director of Collections Madeline Kelly said.

“Up until now, the Map Collection has been relatively hard to find, so while it does get hundreds of visits a year, we’re excited for it to be in a higher-traffic part of the building,” Kelly said.

The maps team will oversee the libraries’ microfilm collection, so they are expecting a busy year settling into the space, Kelly said.

The Map Collection should be fully relocated by fall 2018.

The new gender-neutral bathroom will be fully accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Currently, Wilson Library has two gender-neutral bathrooms, both located on the sixth floor.

“I think it’s awesome to be a part of a university that continues to provide inclusive settings for everyone,” junior Emily Thompson said.

Haulgren said the bathrooms on the sixth floor have limited hours of availability. The new gender-neutral restroom will be available during all hours the library is open.

“We are an increasingly diverse nation and community, and as such, Western has a responsibility to create a welcoming, inclusive and workable environment,” Haulgren said.

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