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Zahnow Library - History: History of the Melvin J. Zahnow Library

Melvin J. Zahnow


History of Melvin J. Zahnow Library

Named for one of the university’s founders, the Melvin J. Zahnow Library opened its doors in the spring of 1987. Melvin J. Zahnow was one of SVSU’s original incorporators. A Frankenmuth resident, Mr. Zahnow was chairman and trustee of Wickes Corporation, and was a former chairman of the Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation. He began his business career as secretary and director of Wickes Brothers and Wickes Boiler Company in 1940. He also was a member of the SVSU Board of Control and the SVSU Foundation. Mr. Zahnow earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Albion College in 1934.

The former Saginaw business and civic leader is remembered for his involvement in numerous clubs and organizations. In 1985, the Saginaw Chamber of Commerce honored him with its Community Service Award. Mr. Zahnow also was the recipient of the Lutheran Social Services Distinguished Service Award and was listed in Who’s Who in the Midwest. In recognition of his contribution to SVSU, the University bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree upon Mr. Zahnow in 1982 and a Distinguished Service Medallion in 1991.

At the time of its dedication in 1987, Zahnow Library’s 68,000 square feet spanned three floors. A major renovation and expansion project was completed in 2003. In addition to housing the library’s book, journal, and media collections, the 83,000 square foot building now includes four floors featuring an elegant reading room, a 60-seat computer lab, the Student Technology Center, and the Writing Center. Collaborative workrooms, group study rooms, and ample seating with both wired and wireless laptop capabilities are conveniently located throughout the library. 

Library holdings currently include 233,000 print volumes, 9,000 electronic books, 25,000 media items, and 370,000 microforms. Users have access to the full text of 24,000 journal titles in both print and electronic formats. Over 90 online databases can be searched on campus as well as off campus. Direct links to the full text of journal articles from citations found in different databases are provided through the library’s journal article link resolver software.

MeLCat, the Michigan eLibrary Catalog, provides access to the holdings of nearly 250 Michigan libraries (48 million items and growing), as well as the capability to request books found in MeLCat with a few simple clicks of a button. The holdings of nearly 35,000 libraries worldwide can be searched via WorldCat, and materials not owned by Zahnow Library can be requested through Tipasa, the library’s web-based interlibrary loan system. The majority of journal articles requested through an interlibrary loan service and are delivered electronically within 24-48 hours.

Instruction in the effective use of library resources can be tailored to meet the needs of a particular class, ranging from introductory tours to hands-on database searching to in-depth research in a specific discipline. Forms for requesting course-related instruction can be found on the library’s web site. Instruction sessions can also be arranged for classes taught off campus. And, librarians can be ‘embedded’ in online courses to provide research assistance and guidance in using library resources and services.

The library offers both an in-house reserve (items kept on file at the Circulation Desk) and an electronic reserve (items placed online in Canvas) service for faculty. Recommendations for items to be purchased for the library collection are welcome and encouraged. Each academic department has a librarian assigned to work as a liaison with faculty in selecting materials to be added to the collection. Liaison librarians, as well as all library staff, are always ready to answer questions and provide assistance to faculty and students in taking full advantage of the resources and services available to them.