Tom Volkening joined the Michigan State University Libraries as the Engineering Librarian in 1984, a role he continues to serve in today. The Engineering branch opened in 1963 when the new Engineering building opened: Tom led during major relocations and renovations in 1989 and again in 2003. In 2015, he oversaw the transition of collections and services to the Main Library when the branch closed after 52 years … Tom was the branch head for 31 years, more than half of that time. As Head of the Engineering Library, Tom was a strong liaison to the College with close ties to faculty, and a strong supervisor offering overall encouragement and support for work-life balance to all members of the Engineering Library team. He mentored several staff members and colleagues who went on to pursue advanced degrees in library science, many of whom have gone on to careers in the field – some even at the MSU Libraries.
Tom continues to serve as the sole library liaison to the entire College of Engineering to this day, as well as subject librarian for the Construction Management Program. Throughout his career, has worked collaboratively with colleagues working in a wide range of related areas such as Biomedical Engineering, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and Entrepreneurship. He is highly regarded and well-respected by Engineering faculty and staff for both his extensive research support and in-depth instruction to students. Projects he has worked on during his career include a grant funded initiative to develop the Network for Excellence in Manufacturing (a database of free online resources useful for Michigan’s small to medium sized manufacturers in the 1990s); digitization of the student publication, Spartan Engineer; and his recent role on the seed library team. Tom’s extensive gardening experience has been extremely valuable to the team when considering how to best serve the seed library’s potential users (and a source of heirloom vegetables to colleagues). In his career, Tom has seen major changes in librarianship, and handled them with grace and good humor. He has willingly taken on additional responsibilities: joining the Reference Desk when he moved to the Main Library; serving as the interim Physics and Astronomy Librarian upon the retirement of a colleague; and taking over the General Reference Collection Fund.
Tom has a long record of professional presentations as well as an established reputation as a subject advisor and reviewer. He has been very active in the American Society of Engineering Education, serving in a range of leadership roles in the Engineering Libraries Division as well as service with SLA, ALA and MLA. In sum, Tom has played a critical role in the overall success of the MSU Libraries especially in the area of STEM education and research, and has an established record of sustained contribution to the libraries, the university and profession at large. He is more than deserving of this career achievement award.