WESSWEB - Western European Specialists Section

History of the Western European Specialists Section (WESS)

Librarians with an interest in Western Europe first met informally beginning in 1973, forming a discussion group, WELS (Western European Language Specialists), within ACRL in 1975 and met officially at the ALA mid-winter conference on January 21, 1975. The first issue of the "WELS Newsletter" appeared in 1975, continuing on an irregular basis until volume III, no. 1 in January, 1980 after which time it has appeared more regularly, semi-annually to the present.

After five years as a discussion group, WELS applied to ACRL for section status, and the new Western European Specialists Section was officially approved on June 27, 1979. Membership in WESS has grown from 560 in 1980 to 724 in 1997. The number of personal members has grown steadily while organizational membership has declined.

According to its bylaws, first adopted in 1980 (see: C&RL News, November, 1979, pp. 322-23) and revised in 1985 (see: C&RL News, March, 1985, pp. 116-18), WESS "represents librarians and others in the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) who specialize or are otherwise professionally involved in the acquisition, organization, and use of information sources originating in or relating to Western European countries."

WESS has organized programs at ALA annual conferences since 1980. In 1983, WESS members were heavily involved in the Symposium on Western European Studies and North American Libraries, sponsored by the University of Minnesota. In 1988, WESS organized its first full-scale international conference, held in Florence Italy, on Shared Resources, Shared Responsibilities: Libraries and Western European Studies in North America and Europe. Selected papers from both conferences have been published by Haworth Press in its journal, Collection Management (vol. 6, no.1/2, 1984) and as separate monographs.

MEMBERSHIP

DATE         TOTAL            PERSONAL       ORGANIZATIONAL

8/80           560                 395                  165

8/81           648                 503                  145

8/82           629                 473                  146

8/83           357                 291                   66

8/84           424                 365                   59

8/85           461                 397                   64

8/86           505                 443                   62

7/87           623                 563                   60

7/88           703                 639                   64

8/89           768                 702                   66

8/90           785                 717                   68

8/91           795                 728                   67

8/92           791                 724                   67

8/96           719                 661                   58

8/97           724                 665                   59





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.