Personal Reflections and Perspectives

by Stanley D. Stevens
Map Librarian Emeritus
University of California Santa Cruz

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First published in the 20th Anniversary Issue of the WAML Information Bulletin
Volume 19, Number 3, June 1988 p. 168-174.

Also delivered to the WAML 20th Anniversary Meeting
Paper V: Personal reflections and perspectives,

Friday, September 11, 1987, 2:15 – 2:45

Stanley D. Stevens, Map Librarian, University of California, Santa Cruz (1965-1993); Founding President of WAML 1967, Treasurer since July 1969; WAML Information Bulletin Editor (1971-1984), production editor since 1971.

Stan Stevens Portrait by Shmuel Thaler72ppiIt has been an eventful period since I attended the first meeting in 1966 in the UC Berkeley Map Room. Invitations to the meeting were extended by Sheila Dowd, then the Map Librarian at UCB, Carlos Hagen, Map Librarian at UCLA, and Ed Thatcher, then the Map Librarian at University of Oregon.

The dozen or so of us “present at the creation” were privileged to participate in launching what I immodestly call one of the nation’s most important map librarianship institutions.

The responsibility for participating in the keeping of this ship afloat for over 20-years leaves me feeling both proud and tired. In addition, I have other interests that require my time. Book publishing in local history interests me greatly, and I have a couple of unfinished local history writing projects that I need to complete. My personal time and the interests of my family have suffered over the many years that l have devoted nights, weekends, and holidays to WAML’s interests.

It seems to me that fresh leadership is needed for the next 20 years of WAML development. I have a great deal of confidence in the collective capabilities of WAML’s Membership. I have faith that all of you are more than capable of leading WAML into the 21st Century.

Although I wish to step aside for your participation, I have no intention of abdicating, or of becoming a lame duck do-nothing. I pledge to assist in building a bridge to those who follow.

More comments about that later. Allow me to reflect a bit on the inspiration of the founders:


First Meeting at UCB Map Room; Nov. 12, 1966

As I recall (Sheila Dowd, Carlos Hagen, and Ed Thatcher—the real founders of WAML—may have different views on this history), our primary concern was, that West Coast map librarians were being “left out” of the professional activities associated with the, then, only organization in existence: Special Libraries Association (SLA) Government and Maps (G & M) Division. That was not because the G & M Division was excluding us, but because it seemed oriented toward the East Coast, and most of the SLA meetings were being held in the East, South, and Mid-West. A West Coast group could get together more often, so we decided we should try to provide the opportunity.

There existed within the SLA G & M Division a Washington, D.C. group and a New York group.

We thought that showed enough need for regional organizations. There was definitely a gap in accessibility for us on the West Coast.

One of the most important needs that WAML was intended to serve is the social contact between persons with similar professional interests, thus enabling the exchange of ideas, sharing of problems, and learning from each other. I, for one, believe that WAML has served this well.

Who? and Where?

 On July 19, 1967, I wrote the following to Ed Thatcher:

News from the Map Librarians meeting, July 1st.

We are now formally organized with a Constitution and a new name: Western Association of Map Librarians. (Note that the name was later revised to ‘Libraries’.)

Agreed upon at the meeting, although not yet included in the Constitution, was the following geographical “membership area”: British Columbia & Alberta, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Arizona. Since that meeting, we have learned that an association has been formed that probably includes British Columbia and Alberta. Mimi Sayer received a letter from Miss Maureen F. Wilson, Head, Map Division, The Library, University of British Columbia, Vancouver 8, that “the Canadian Map Librarians Conference” was held in Ottawa 14-16 June. Mr. Theodore Layng, Map Division of the Public Archives of Canada, is President. We might want, therefore, to review our “membership area” at the next annual meeting.

Initially we thought that the West Coast should include Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. Later, the states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming were added. Over the years, as few as two years ago, there have been demands to expand beyond New Mexico to include West Texas.

The Membership categories, Principal Region and Associate, were set on the belief that those from some more distant states would not be able to attend our meetings on a regular basis. This, of course, was not meant to exclude anyone, but for the purposes of writing Constitutional provisions that were workable we had to make a distinction. For an example, in the setting of a quorum for votes (in-person balloting), if you didn’t make a distinction between these two you would be blocked from taking action for the want of enough participating members.

A second argument set forth by some members at the initial meeting was whether to expand, to take in more distant states — or as an alternative — the entire U.S. With a membership that encompassing the entire U.S., an invitation from a member to hold a meeting outside our principal region, say Kansas, would be hard to refuse — even though you knew that the meeting would attract few West Coast members! The more restrictive argument was strengthened by the logic that West Coast map librarians, if meetings were to be held in far distant states, could afford to attend a meeting only once every third year, perhaps. WAML meetings, on the other hand, rotate between states within the principal region on a north-central-south — central-north-central sequence. Thus, a WAML member can attend at least one meeting a year.

Independence vs. the Umbrella approach

At our initial meeting we had representatives present who informally advised us on what they thought were the advantages of affiliation with a larger organization: Geoscience Information Society had just recently been formed, Ed Thatcher was a member and knew of its appeal to those in the earth sciences fields; and, of course, there were some present who had been members of SLA G & M Division – or who had subscribed to its Bulletin for several years and were familiar with the organizational structure of SLA.

Quoting again from my July 19, 1967, letter to Ed Thatcher. I reported to him regarding the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. Please thank Fritz Kramer for his interest and assure him that we continue to be interested in the possibility. However, we gave the subject of Affiliation a full hearing, considering APCG [Association of Pacific Coast Geographers], GIS [Geographic Information Society], AAG [Association of American Geographers], SLA. We came to the tentative conclusion that there seems to be no particular advantage to affiliation. The question was left open to further consideration, and therefore, would welcome any comments from whatever quarter. I think the most over-riding consideration of our meeting was to first get ourselves established and start our projects. If affiliation subsequently seems desirable, then it can be accomplished in a more orderly fashion.”

Subsequently, in 1979, about the time several of us were becoming disenchanted with SLA (for reasons that I don’t have time to explore during this presentation) — just before MAGERT [Map and Geography Round Table] was formed as part of ALA [American Library Association] — I wrote a paper entitled “An American Federation – proposal to unite all groups interested in cartographic materials” (SLA G&MD Bulletin 118, Dec. 1979). We also debated this entire matter within WAML at some length.

Independence was, at least for WAML, thought to offer the best of all worlds. We didn’t want to be tied to anyone financially. We wanted the ability to make decisions independently, and we didn’t, of course, want to be tied to the meeting location or schedule of some parent organization.

I believe WAML has achieved its objectives; in spite of my personal hopes that “An American Federation”, an umbrella organization for all of Map Librarianship in the U.S., would reduce the competing interests that we seem to have. After all, there would be some advantages to paying dues to only one organization! But, there would be many other advantages. There would be tradeoffs, of course, and perhaps the size of the umbrella would get too large, too complex, too impersonal, and too spread-out across the country. Those in MAGERT and SLA would argue that they would lose contact with those in their parent organizations with whom they have a need for professional relationships.

I still cling to my hope that we will find it advantageous to separate ourselves [here I refer to all of our organizations: ALA MAGERT, SLA G & M DIVISION, and WAML] from all parent organizations, and form a single Map Librarianship professional organization for the United States. I believe we would strengthen our voice, reduce the confusion among those with whom we have to deal, and provide unity of purpose for our programs, publications, and organizational leadership.

The Constitution and ByLaws

In addition to the remarks that I have just made that relate to the Constitution and By-Laws, which have only been changed about twice in our 20-years, I believe it is time that the WAML Executive and the Membership at-large reexamine the functioning of WAML — toward making WAML stronger and more effective.

If those of you who were present at MAGERT’s meetings in San Francisco, or read its August issue of base line, you may have noticed that there are 12 standing committees, 3 task force coordinators, and 13 representatives and liaisons to other organizations.

SLA G&M Division is not quite as complex, and certainly WAML is not overburdened. I know that much of MAGERT’s objective is to relate to the parent organization, and have a voice in affecting map librarianship’s future by being involved in certain critical ALA committees. I do not criticize that objective by drawing a parallel between MAGERT, SLA G&M Division, and WAML!

What I hope is that WAML will take a look at itself and examine whether WAML is doing all it should for its members and the profession.

Some of my observations are the following:

Membership Committee

I believe there is a lot that can be done by an active program by the Membership Committee. MAGERT’s August base line reports their membership at 447. WAML had 239, including Principal, Lifetime, Associate, and Institutional Members.

I realize MAGERT is nationwide, and we are regional, but do all those people know WAML exists? How many of them are in WAML’s Principal Region and are not members of WAML? [Same for subs. to the WAML Information Bulletin]

Hospitality Committee

More could be done to make new members feel welcome, maybe even before they decide to attend a meeting. Then the Hospitality Committee could do more welcoming at the meetings, even follow-up letters to people who attended for the first time. Some of the Founders of WAML believed that our most important asset was the personal contact. I certainly share that view. Please don’t think that the work of the Committee Members is being criticized. My purpose is consciousness-raising. I think these matters are too important to leave idle without, at least, a self-examination every 20-years!

Publications Advisory Committee

My original design for the Publications Advisory Committee (PAC) doesn’t seem to have worked. Is there a need for it, or should the Executive Committee do its own advising. That is what we have been doing for quite some time. The original concept was to have an independent, but WAML dedicated, group that would study the IB, study proposals for Occasional Papers, and offer advice and render opinions to the Executive Committee. Graphic design, literary content, and quality of contributions were all within the purview of the PAC. Recently, there have been voices who have called for a “juried” publication, where a jury of editors would decide what is worthy of being published in the Information Bulletin (IB). Are we ready for that? Should an Editorial Jury replace the PAC? These questions are ready for study!

In regard to the Occasional Papers: Are we making this series known to potential authors, within WAML and elsewhere? Are they learning how to gain access to a hearing for their ideas? I know we have had proposals languish for want of the proper channel.

Our guidelines for acceptance of subject matter, and for style, have not been codified and published. Do we need to do so?

The original concept for the Information Bulletin

In 1969, when Bob Sivers, our third WAML President called me and asked my opinion about the wisdom of starting a Newsletter for our Membership, I thought it was a super idea. The only map librarianship publication available at the time was the SLA G&M Division Bulletin; although it was widely read and was well founded in map librarianship, it didn’t report much of what was happening on the West Coast, due to its membership base in the Eastern U.S. We discussed what a great tool it would be for communication among our membership, and all the practical features that we could include in it. I remember saying to Bob that “we could even sell it on subscription to libraries and non-members.”

He wrote, in the second issue of the Newsletter, that

…among the reasons for its publication were:

The decision of the membership to conduct its business by mail and informal meetings:

  1. The fact that a majority of the members would not be able to attend any one of the semi-annual meetings yet needed to be informed of the activities and accomplishments of the Association, and,
  2. The need for a means to publish short articles or news briefs of interest to whose who work in the map libraries of western Canada and the western United States,
  3. Any member or friend of the Association who wishes to publish short articles or news items of interest to the general membership is encouraged to do so.

All items contributed by members other than the President will appear with the appropriate by-line. As is standard practice with other publications, the editor reserves the right to accept or edit contributions. Contributors will be notified of acceptance or rejection, and publication of an article with any substantive changes by the editor will be done so only with the approval of the writer.”

By-and-large, I believe that objective has been maintained during the 18 years of the Newsletter/Information Bulletin.

I believe that its basic purpose, to keep members informed of the Association’s activities, has been fulfilled quite well. In fact, the Information Bulletin has served as a recorder of WAML’s history, and is the best source of actual events, as compared to some of our fading memories.

The Editorial practice has been, with some significant deviations, to accept whatever contributions the Members have submitted. The Editor has been fortunate to get them, and welcomes the contributions — a way of sharing the experiences of all of us.

The recent question raised, whether the Information Bulletin should be a juried journal or not, is one that should be decided by the Executive Committee, in my opinion. The PAC should study this issue, make a recommendation to the Executive Committee – outlining the pros and cons – and then the Executive Committee should advise the Editor. This procedure is established by the Constitution and By-Laws, and if this matter has any merit, it should be implemented.

If that suggestion is implemented, the Editor would have to establish an entirely different schedule. An Editorial jury would have to be established, perhaps by the Executive upon recommendation of the PAC.

More specific content guidelines and style would have to be established.

Parenthetically, as of the November 1987 issue of the Information Bulletin (Vol. 19, No. 1), we will begin a new format, at least in appearance. The Executive Committee gave general approval to this concept at the Provo meeting, based on my personal acquisition of a Laser Printer and Macintosh II computer. It is a change that I have long sought. I had hoped that WAML would be the first Map Librarianship organization with this capability, but ACML beat us — the March and June 1987 issues are produced by typeset , a wrap-around cover — stapled in the gutter. It is quite attractive. I hope that WAML can come close to matching ACML’s fine effort. If it achieves nothing else, it should be easier to read. It should also reduce wasted space, cut down on the number of pages, and, I hope, cut printing costs.

My Role as Editor of Publications

The Editor of Publications, as compared with the Editor of the IB, is established under our Constitution and By-Laws to oversee all of WAML’s publications. It was, perhaps, coincidental that I was appointed to that position. I wore two hats in that capacity, that as Editor of Publications as well as Editor of the IB. That arrangement does not necessarily have to fit anyone else. The Executive should seek as many volunteers for these positions as are willing to accept the responsibilities.

The Constitution and By-Laws stipulate the duties, but they can always be tailored to the needs of the Association.

My Role as Treasurer

The next few sections of my remarks will sound very self-centered, as my previous comments have been heard, I hope, in more of an historical context. I do not intend my remarks to be self serving, but because of my unique situation in WAML, what I want to say is done in the spirit of faith that all of you are more than capable of leading WAML through the next decade and into the 21st Century.

I was Chairman of the Nominating Committee in 1969/70, when — as I recall — the single position of Secretary-Treasurer was split into two jobs — no one else agreed to run for that position — in fact, Carlos Hagen wrote to the Members that he had been trying to recruit for candidates for office: “I believe,” he wrote, “that we have contacted almost one-half of our membership [about 30 at that time] seeking candidates, but time and again we have been turned down.” — So I volunteered to run. That has prevailed for the past 18 years. I am presently serving my 19th year in this position, and I am willing to serve the 20th year. But, that’s it folks!

My name has not appeared on the ballot for the last two years, and that situation must change. I don’t like WAML to be accused of being non-democratic.

There is the matter of what is best for WAML. A founder often has an impact on a new organization greater than he wants.

One reason I have held both Treasurer for so many years and Editor of Publications was because I wanted the flexibility of having the checkbook for supplies for the production of the Information Bulletin; and I wanted to know who were paid members and subscribers, so that the printing and distribution of our primary information tool was accomplished on time, as efficiently as possible. It doesn’t have to be that way in the future. I believe these functions can be divided among other members.

My recommendation to the Nominating Committee is the following (which, of course, may require some adjustment of the Constitution and By-Laws):

The Nominating Committee should seek nominees, I hope it will be a contested election, for a Treasurer “Elect” to be elected in 1988/89 for a term beginning in 1989/90.

With a Treasurer-Elect having been chosen, I can work with that person to have an orderly transfer of duties, and some advance consultation about procedures that may or may not be used by the incoming Treasurer. And, of course, an orderly transfer of the Records.

Whether there should be a re-alignment of duties, or a limitation on the term of office of the Treasurer, and any other conditions —- this would allow for some consideration by the Executive Committee and/or Nominating Committee in advance of an election, perhaps debated at the Spring Meeting, etc.

My recommendations for the Future: Treasurer etc.

I recommend that there be a division of my responsibilities; the objective is to make the acceptance of these jobs more palatable to the widest range of the WAML Membership.

My present responsibilities are categorized as follows:

  1. Treasurer: Association general finances; sending Invoices for Membership Dues; proposing and managing a Budget.
  1. Subscription Manager for the Information Bulletin, including Back-Issues fulfillment; maintenance and production of mailing labels; Invoice production, and fulfillment of orders, three-times-per-year.
  1. Fulfillment Manager for the Occasional Papers: maintenance of the Standing Order files, including Institutional Members and Lifetime Members. Maintaining the back-stock of OPs, fulfilling orders by receiving, processing Purchase Orders, Invoicing, and dunning for non- payment.
  1. Production of the Information Bulletin: includes coordination with the various Editors to receive material, key it into the computer, send proofing copies; produce final photo-ready-copy for printer; produce gummed labels for the mailing, and get the finished product to the post office — after spending an evening — many times with the family stuffing envelopes. This includes maintaining the Subscription files to make sure that Subscribers get what they pay for. It also includes all the general correspondence with the Subscription Agents, The Copyright Office, and Claims for non-receipt.
  1. Production of the Occasional Papers (OP): consultation with the author, consultation with the PAC and the Executive Committee. Figuring the costs of production, recommending the quantity to be printed, price to be charged, and all other details of production.

Production of OPs includes many of the same processes as the IB, but the attention to detail of the finished product is more intense, because the standards of scholarship our OP authors have set justifies a product that will have a shelf life and we hope a sales potential that will go beyond the readership of the IB. Our OPs have become standard reference works for many of our libraries, and after nearly fifteen years since OP 1 was published it is still selling — as are all others.

Maintenance of the back-stock; fulfillment of orders; invoicing; collecting payments, and banking. Securing Copyright, advertising and promoting the OP.

I recommend that these five general areas of responsibility be converted into at least three different jobs.

The division of “three” that I recommend be considered is as follows:

  1. Treasurer:   propose a Budget, manage the approved Budget; invoice Members for Dues, maintain membership lists, receive payments, prepare bank deposits, manage investments in banks, time-certificates, etc. make report to the Executive & Membership maybe: Subscription Manager for the Information Bulletin invoice subscribers, receive payments from agents, maintain back-stock, fulfill claims; maintain all lists for mailing labels, banking, etc.
  1. IB Production & Subscription Manager — separate from Treasurer.
  1. OP Production & Subscription Manager — separate from other two.

Or, an alternative division of that could be considered is as follows:

  1. Treasurer, including maintenance of mailing lists, invoicing to Members; receiving payments from IB Subscription Mgr. for IB and OPs, or receipts from invoicing done by Sub. Mgr.
  1. IB Production Manager and OP Production Manager (including securing printing services).
  1. IB Subscription Manager, Back-Issues Warehouse, Claims; and OP Subscription & Fulfillment Manager for Standing Orders, new orders; warehouse for Back-Issues. This includes Invoicing; payments could go direct to the Treasurer (with coordination).

How WAML has helped me

WAML has provided me with the following opportunities:

  1. an opportunity to join with colleagues throughout the West to fulfill mutual objectives: expand and strengthen map librarianship in the WAML region;
  1. an exchange of information with colleagues by providing continuing education through these meetings (to illustrate how much I believe in this concept, I make note of the fact that I have never missed a meeting, and I have learned something useful at every meeting!)
  1. WAML has provided the opportunity for socialization with colleagues: Ed Thatcher was among the first to stress that human interaction at WAML meetings is one of our most important assets.
  1. WAML provided opportunities for publishing articles, editing the work of others, and being creative. (Please let me make a side note here: long ago I adopted the philosophy that one should, anytime one shares an idea by making a contribution in the IB or elsewhere that you should not only get credit, but you should take responsibility for putting that idea in print by tagging your name to it. Then, if a reader wants some more information, he or she will know a resource person with whom to make contact.)
  1. WAML has provided me the opportunity, sometimes I seized the opportunity, sometimes I was elected (as in the case of being Chair of CUAC) — and sometimes I have felt that I deprived others from these opportunities — of representing WAML in exchanges with other organizations. I have always felt honored to represent WAML and speak on behalf of WAML. And, I always felt that WAML members, as a result of this representation, were being collectively recognized and taken into consideration by those organizations with whom I made contact: DMA, GPO, USGS, our sister organizations — ACML, MAGERT, and SLA G&M Division. (I support the exchanges between organizations that are maintained by our      Representatives.)
  1. WAML has provided me with personal growth in my job, which has led to professional advancement and promotions at UCSC: for those of you who don’t know my career, I began 22 years ago at UCSC as a Library Assistant II (a non-professional position – without an MLS) and have been promoted through the ranks up to my present rank of Librarian II. I could not have achieved that without WAML.
  1. I have been rewarded in other ways: as the recipient of the 1981 Honors Award by the SLA G & M Division, I am mindful that it was actually an award for WAML.

How WAML has helped the profession

  1. WAML has consolidated the Western Provinces & States. I believe this has been a positive influence which has provided individuals within this region an affinity group to which they can relate, both by attending meetings within the region, and the personal contacts important for the exchange of information.
  1. WAML’s publications have been positive contributions to the strengthening of the profession. The content of our publications is sound intellectually, and provides excellent reference sources that are in constant use in our map libraries, as well as those throughout the world.
  1. WAML has contributed to the national advancement of map librarianship by being represented on the Anglo-American Committee for Cataloging of Cartographic Materials, and the Cartographic Users Advisory Council (CUAC).

There was a time when the distinction between map librarianship groups, in the minds of some government officials, was not absolutely clear. USGS, for example, invited map librarians to a meeting in Denver. They thought they were inviting WAML, but didn’t even know when they obtained the SLA G&M Division’s mailing list that we were not included. It wasn’t until after the fact that we found out that the meeting was held. I do believe that has been cleared up now. CUAC has helped clarify that!

  1. WAML has produced some of the finest people in our profession, among them: Mary Larsgaard, author of the only textbook on map librarianship ever written,* has been President of all three American map librarianship organizations: WAML, SLA G&M Division, and now MAGERT. No other map librarian has achieved so much and contributed so much to our profession. And to think that she started here!

There are others among us who have contributed greatly, not least of whom are the authors of each and every one of WAML’s Occasional Papers; and then there is, Larry Cruse, this year’s winner of the Hammond/MAGERT Award for the best paper contributing to map librarianship – for his paper in Microform Review which describes WAML’s MIMI project (Maps In Microform Index) – Sheila Dowd, one of the three principal founders of WAML, went on from her position as Map Librarian at UC Berkeley to the Assistant University Librarian for Collection Development at UC Berkeley — one of the most responsible and important librarianship jobs in this country. — Mary Ansari, here at UN-R has advanced from Map Librarian to Head of all UN-R’s Branch Libraries. — Charley Seavey, formerly map librarian at University of New Mexico, is now a professor of library science at the University of Arizona — and there are many more examples that could be cited. There is one final mention, however, one of our Honorary Lifetime Members, Roy V. Boswell, who turned 92 this past May, will have the Collection for the History of Cartography at California State University-Fullerton named after him in ceremonies on October 25th this year. The Collection which he established at Fullerton is one of the country’s premier collections of its type, a model for anyone who wishes to establish a collection of rare maps.

*editor’s note: Up until the 2016 publication of Aber and Aber’s Map Librarianship: A Guide to Geoliteracy, Map and GIS Resources and Services

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