University libraries receive state award for customer service

GVL / Marissa Dillon
Veronica Pabich helping Melissa Finnegan

GVL / Marissa Dillon Veronica Pabich helping Melissa Finnegan

Shelby Pendowski

The Library of Michigan Foundation usually highlights public libraries with their annual awards, but the foundation bestowed Grand Valley State University with the 2014 State Librarian’s Excellence Award for superior customer service.

“We won our award based on the services we provide and the new way we are looking at services and the way we are responding to student needs,” said Julie Garrison, the associate dean of research and instruction.

The award recognized not only the Mary Idema Pew Learning and Information Commons. It also applauded the special collections and university archives located in the Seidman House, the Steelcase Library on the GVSU Pew Campus and the Frey Foundation Learning Center located in downtown Grand Rapids.

“The award really symbolizes the great customer service provided at all the libraries here at Grand Valley,” said Carlos Rodriguez, the associate dean of technology and information services for GVSU university libraries. “It really acknowledges the intentional effort we place on providing not just good customer service, but excellent customer service.”

Rodriguez and other library staff members originally nominated GVSU for the award. The nomination included letters of recommendation, student feedback and feedback found on social media.

Some of the tweets included were, “I love this library more than my family,” and “I am never going home,” Garrison said. These types of comments helped to secure the award, and also reassured staff members that their drudgery is worth the effort.

Staff members weren’t the only reason that the libraries took home the gold. The 154,000 square feet, space innovation, advanced technology, 700,000 books and countless services of the Mary Idema Pew Library made a lasting impression on the state’s board.

“What we talked about was that it was important to provide an active learning environment for students outside of the classroom, and we were able to do that in the new library,” Garrison said.

The libraries were formally recognized at a conference on Oct. 16, where state librarian Randy Riley addressed staff members and the Laker community. Riley presented the collective libraries of GVSU with a trophy and $2,000.

Cromaine District Library in Hartland Township and Dorr Township Library in Allegan County were also given awards at the ceremony.

Part of the prize money will be used to celebrate the commitment and hard work of the staff members – details have yet to be decided.

“We want to do something to acknowledge all the work of the staff that were a part of this,” Rodriguez said. “We haven’t really decided what that will look like, but we are discussing some options as far as how best to celebrate this award.”

It was a combination of innovative facilities and diligent labor of the staff that won the award. The trophy, which is located behind the service desk in the Mary Idema Pew Library, will forever symbolize that staff synergy.

“There is a front line staff that is most visible to our community, but everyone in the libraries is a part of the vision that the library has and who we want to be to our community,” Garrison said. “From our deans to our student workers, we all play a role in that.”