Continuing to Turn the Page in the Digital Age

© Western New Mexico University

Since its founding in 1893, the students, employees and surrounding community have looked to the university library for knowledge, enrichment and research guidance. But as the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology to provide information, WNMU has an eye on how the J. Cloyd Miller Library’s physical space can best be used in the digital age while ensuring the preservation of the printed knowledge housed within its walls.

As part of the draft of the university’s Master Plan, WNMU expects to add new study spaces, areas for public events and access to dining as part of the expansion and remodel of Miller Library, among other changes. This planned transformation will continue modernization efforts made over the years such as the installation of a new computer lab, study and quiet spaces and areas that feature works of art.

“As educators, parents and citizens, we recognize the need to assure continued access and preservation of printed materials while creating connectivity points for users who choose to engage through digital means,” said WNMU President Joseph Shepard. “Users of the university’s library have modern spaces to sit and connect with one another, attend public meetings and debates and conduct research, all while surrounded by shelves of printed materials amongst the modern technology,” said President Shepard.

Even as the university looks toward expanding access to digital materials and hardware, not everything about the library will change. The library’s current physical resources will be maintained or even expanded, including circulating material such as popular literature, which has recently been reorganized to increase the visibility of works relevant to marginalized groups.

Miller Library also houses important special collections such as the Juan Chacon archives, materials related to local and regional history, works printed by Mimbres Press and texts that librarian Arminda Sandoval describes as “small press gems”—rare works by small publishing houses that have never been digitized.

The library will also continue to participate in the Federal Library Depository Program. This special distinction, created by an act of Congress, ensures that government documents are available not just to the university community but to the larger public as well. Miller Library serves not only as a repository for federal documents, but also for state documents and for instructional materials through the New Mexico Regional Review Center of Institutional Materials, which makes curriculum available to educators and parents.

While many of the details of the remodel are still in the planning phase, two things are clear: the library’s digital footprint is expanding to meet the growing needs of the on and off campus community, and, as President Shepard has made clear, Miller Library will always be a place to celebrate and protect the printed word on the WNMU campus.

Read the complete draft of the university’s 5-year Master Plan here.

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