University Libraries receive national excellence award

Lee VanOrsdel, dean of University Libraries
Lee VanOrsdel, dean of University Libraries
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The Association of College and Research Libraries has named Grand Valley State University Libraries recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award.

The annual award recognizes the staffs of a college, university and community college library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution. Criteria for the award emphasize outcomes as the best measure of quality.

As Grand Valley’s Dean of University Libraries since 2005, Lee VanOrsdel has led efforts to challenge the status quo of academic librarianship to update and seek new ways to support the university community and positively impact student learning. Transformation has reached areas ranging from collections and web design, to systems and instruction, and to organizational culture and physical spaces.

“Every single person on the University Libraries staff deserves credit for this award,” said VanOrsdel. “Individually and together, they have accomplished more than anyone could have imagined — and in such a short time. This award honors their good work and their commitment to the students and faculty at Grand Valley.”

ACRL said that Grand Valley State University Libraries was selected for the collaborative and effective approach taken to restructuring the library organization and building an innovative, agile and flexible team-based organization that is responsive to changing user needs. Also noted was the University Libraries’ leadership in developing programs, tools and best practices that other libraries have emulated. Each winning library receives $3,000 and a plaque to be presented at an award ceremony on their campus this spring.

“We are honored to be recognized by our academic library colleagues for the work we are doing here at Grand Valley,” said VanOrsdel. “We are proud to bring this award to the university that gave us the support and resources to dream big.”

Among the big dreams is construction of the new $70 million Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on Grand Valley’s Allendale Campus, scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2013.

Grand Valley Academic Vice President Gayle Davis observed the central place the libraries hold in university life. “I am very pleased by the recognition given to the libraries, their staff, and their excellent dean,” she said.  “Those of us at the university are aware of the quality they represent, but it is especially gratifying when a national organization recognizes the same thing.”