WESSWEB - Western European Studies Section

This text is adapted for the Web from a print brochure. A pdf version of the brochure is also available.

What is WESS?

The Western European Studies Section (WESS) represents librarians and others who specialize or are otherwise professionally involved in the acquisition, organization, and use of information sources originating in or related to Western European countries. Our aim is to promote the improvement of library services supporting study and research in Western European affairs from ancient times to the present.

A Brief History

WESS grew out of a discussion group started in 1973 within the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The Western European Language Specialists Discussion Group (WELS) became a section within ACRL five years later and was renamed the Western European Specialists Section (WESS). Since then it has sponsored major programs at each ALA annual conference and held its own conference with European librarians in Italy in 1988. In 1999, the section changed its name to Western European Studies Section.

Since its inception, WESS has been instrumental in promoting cooperation between libraries and scholars in West European fields and publishers and book dealers in Western Europe.


The Western European Studies Section Newsletter, semi-annual and free to all WESS members, contains reports of meetings, committees, news about individual members, and articles on some topic of Western European studies. Newsletter columns focus on electronic information resources and services related to Western Europe, new publications of note, personal and institutional news, WESS committee and discussion group minutes, and other announcements. Other publications that WESS has issued through ACRL include:
Women's Studies in Western Europe: A Resource Guide (1986).
Directory of European Specialists in North American Research Libraries (1990).
Western European Studies: Current Trends and Library Resources (1990).
"Euro-Librarianship: Shared Resources, Shared Responsibilities" in Collection Management Vol. 15, Nos. 1/2, 3/4 (1992)

Martinus Nijhoff Study Grant

In cooperation with ACRL, WESS awards the Martinus Nijhoff International West European Study Grant annually to an ALA member. The grant is donated by Martinus Nijhoff International and supports two weeks of research and study in Western Europe on topics pertaining to West European librarianship or the book trade.

Recent Programs from ALA Conferences

Past and Future Conferences

Shared Resources, Shared Responsibilities: Libraries and Western European Studies in North America and Western Europe (Florence, Italy, April 5-8, 1988)
Proceedings published in Collection Management Vol. 15 (1992), Nos 1/2,3/4 as Euro-Librarianship: Shared Resources. Shared Responsibilities.

"European Links: Sources of Information in Western European Studies for Academic Libraries" (1997 ALA Preconference)

WESS European Conference, Paris 2004


Within WESS there is an executive committee, composed of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Past Chair, Secretary, Member-at-large, and Chairs of the two standing committees on Publications and Research and Planning.

In addition, other ad hoc committees and discussion groups are appointed to carry out special projects.

Discussion Groups and Electronic Discusssion Groups

How to Join WESS

WESS contributes to the advancement of Western European studies both in North America and abroad. Through its programs, discussions, conferences, and publications, it continues to further research on Western Europe and to foster collaborative projects. For the librarian or other professional with an interest in this part of the world, WESS provides a stimulating forum for discussion and opportunities for professional enrichment.

For information about current WESS officers and committees, refer to the ALA Handbook of Organization or a recent issue of the WESS Newsletter.

To join:

Write or call the Association of College and Research Libraries for application forms and information.

50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 944-6780 or toll free 1-800-545-2433 Ext. 2521


Return to WESSWEB home page.

This service is provided by the Western European Studies Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, and is maintained by .
This page was last updated on April 25, 2002.

Copyright © 1995 by the American Library Association. This document may be reproduced or reprinted for educational, non-commercial use, in whole or in part, without permission as long as the above copyright statement and source are clearly acknowledged. Neither this document nor any reproductions may be sold.