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Library Administration: History

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 includes four floors featuring an elegant reading room and an active learning lab. Collaborative workrooms and group study rooms are equipped with computer technology. Ample space containing various furniture styles is conveniently located throughout the library. In fall 2017, the library completed a second major renovation bringing key student services into the Library building, including Math & Physics tutoring, the Center for Academic Achievement (social sciences and humanities tutoring), IT Support Center and a testing center.  The Writing Center, already located in the Library joined the tutoring centers on the 2nd floor.

Library holdings currently include 162,000 print volumes, 181,100 electronic books, 27,000 media items and thousands of online media sources. Users have access to the full text of several thousand journal titles in both print and electronic formats. Over 90 online databases can be searched on or off campus though the LIbrary's homepage. Direct links to the full text of journal articles from citations found in various databases are provided through the library’s journal article link resolver software.

SVSU faculty, staff and students can take advantage of MeLCat, the Michigan eLibrary Catalog, which provides access to the holdings of over 400 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 the library’s web-based interlibrary loan system. Journal articles requested through the the interlibrary loan system 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. Librarians are often embedded in online courses to provide research assistance and guidance in using library resources and services.

Library staff work with SVSU faculty to offer both an in-house reserve, located at the User Services Desk, and an electronic reserve, items placed online in Canvas, the University's learning management software. 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 ready to answer questions and provide assistance to faculty, students and the community in taking advantage of Library resources and services.