Throughout the years, evaluation of the Library has been a significant factor in the overall evaluation of the College by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and its predecessors. The accreditation process is carried out with the recognition that even good schools and colleges can be made better, and the hope is that team visits and institutional self-studies will result in a steady upgrading at each institution.
Visiting teams have normally taken a hard look at the Library at Pasadena City College, and until the 1990s when Shatford Library was built, they have inevitably found that the physical facilities were below standards. Just as often, they have found that the Library, in spite of poor facilities, was doing quite well in serving the academic community.
In 1954, the Pasadena City Schools abandoned the 6-4-4 educational plan, and replaced it with 6-3-3-2. Subsequently, almost half of the Library's floor space was requisitioned for the high school's administrative staff, and considerable remodeling and shifting became necessary.
Reading tables and chairs were crowded into two-thirds of the area formerly occupied. The actual seating capacity was reduced considerably below the generally accepted national standards.
In 1955 the Accreditation Team found that the crowding and the loss of space for college purposes had contributed to a perceptible decrease m the formerly extensive use of the library by the instructional staff of the College. However, the team observed that, despite the drastic curtailment in floor space, the library was serving more students than ever before.
While the team considered the Library to be "an outstanding feature of a generally superior institution", they urged that the facilities be restored at the earliest possible date. The team also recommended that an increase in the budget "should be seriously considered as a guarantee of maintaining an adequate number and quality of acquisitions". They recommended, too, that the library staff should serve on appropriate curriculum committees, and that the at least five librarians be retained at the College when the high school and college are separated.
Five years later, the visiting team was pleased to find that the high school had moved away to its own campus and that the library space had been restored, making space more adequate for both readers and materials. The team also found that the Library was well staffed with six librarians and an adequate clerical staff. They commented that the Library's holdings of 61,000 volumes "was well above the average in quantity" and that faculty members were actively involved in the selection of books and other materials.
On the negative side, the 1960 visiting team found that there was no systematic plan for removing outdated material from the collection and that the budget increase that had been recommended at the previous visit had not been implemented. In their view, the budget provision of $2.50 per Average Daily Attendance fell far short of meeting the $3.70 per A.D.A. recommended by the American Library Association. Whereas the previous team had commended the Library for the level of student use of the Library, this year's team found the level of use to be too low, and said students should be encouraged to make wider use of library resources. They felt an extension of library hours would be helpful in that regard. They also recommended that a plan for an audio-visual center be implemented as soon as possible.
When an Accreditation Team visited in 1965, they found that the budget was now adequate, outdated materials were being systematically removed, library hours had been extended, and students were making greater use of the library. In short, the Library had responded positively to the recommendations of five years before, and the team commended the Library for the over-all improvement in library services. Noting that the seating capacity appeared to be adequate for the present enrollment, they commented that a planned expansion into the adjoining Harbeson Hall could be a mixed blessing because of the loss of a large lecture hall that had been serving classes for a great many years.
Evaluations in 1970 and 1975 emphasized, again, the need for modernization and eventual replacement of the library building. It was conjectured for a time that the Library might expand into the nearby "D" building when the Life Sciences Department vacated it and moved into a new Paramedical Sciences Building.
In the "Fifth Year Report" prepared by the college staff for the 1980 evaluation, the library staff reported on a 1979 survey of students and faculty regarding library services. Survey respondents thought the library provided excellent service. At the same time, they universally condemned the facilities. While recognizing that funding is a serious problem, the 1980 visiting team restated the high priority indicated by the previous team, with the hope that "creative/extraordinary measures" would be examined in seeking funding for the library and two other high priority projects, the men?s gymnasium and parking facilities.
In 1985, the College Library, along with other learning resources, was commended for service that focuses on particular problems through specific and carefully directed instructional and resources support. The implementation of the Virginia Tech Library System and the Foreign Student Orientation Program were singled out for commendation. It was noted that the Library was experiencing not only heavy use by students but also increasing use by members of the community. The overall staff of Learning Resources was found to be "able, interested and enthusiastic". It was noted that recent additions to the library staff had improved conditions in that area. Addressing the persistent problem caused by a severely overtaxed and inadequate library building, and acknowledging the need for a Media Center as well as for more space in numerous other places on the campus, the 1985 team recommended the convening of a task force to study the situation and to develop a proposal for solving the overcrowding, especially in the Library.
The 1990 Fifth Year Report disclosed that the College had responded to the recommendations of the 1985 team by developing a Master Plan for the campus. The Plan specifically addressed the problems of an undersized library and the need for a Media Center. Subsequently the College completed working drawings for a new library building, including housing for a new Media Center. Groundbreaking was scheduled for the spring of 1991 and occupancy was expected for the fall of 1992. Significant changes since 1985 were that four more hours of service had been added each week during the academic year and that the automation of the Library had moved forward with the entry of retrospective bibliographic records into the database. In addition, six public access terminals as well as staff terminals for a more efficient workflow in several departments of the Library had been installed. Directly addressing prior criticism that library materials were outdated, a special augmentation of funds from the State had enabled the Library to purchase 3,500 new volumes and to subscribe to 100 new journals.
The next team visit was not until October 1996. At long last, the team was able to commend the College and the community on the completion of a beautiful and functional new library that opened in September 1993. The team was pleased not only with the physical facilities but also with the Library's services that are enhancing teaching and learning at the College. They commended the library and learning resources staffs for "their dedication, for their collaboration with other departments and areas, for their rapid integration of new technologies into services, and for their service-oriented instruction and support for students and faculty".
Looking back over these many years of visits by accreditation teams and of institutional self-studies, it is clearly evident that the accreditation process has been very beneficial to the Library in achieving its goals.