40 Years at Hope College

120120dstaffrecognitonIn 1972, Hope College looked significantly different than it does today. Several buildings including the Dow, DePree and the Maas conference center were not yet part of Hope’s landscape. Hope’s entire library collection was housed in Van Zoeren. It was during this time that Dawn Van Ark came to be an employee of Hope College.

“I graduated from Hope College and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life as a psychology major,” Van Ark said. “My cousin pushed me into the library knowing there was an open position, and I had always wanted to work in a library, so it worked out.”

vanzorenlibrary0002Van Ark has worked in acquisitions for the library ever since. Much has changed in the library since she first began, including its location. Van Wylen library opened immediately next to Van Zoeren in 1988, a strategic location that allowed for the possibility of future expansion. Library floors need to be strong to support all the books in the collection, and Van Zoeren, being a former library, had these capabilities. However, advances in technology have made storage concerns less of an issue.

“When we built (Van Wylen), it was before e-books,” Van Ark said. “We now have a vast collection of electronic books and journals, which makes a big difference in what you need shelving for.”

The biggest change to occur in Van Ark’s 40 years with the library has been the manner in which patrons find books. Before computers became prevalent, Van Wylen, like all other libraries, had a physical card catalog that included the information you now find on HopeCat. Van Ark was one of the people that helped put information such as title, author, and subject headings on the cards for every book in the collection.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the working atmosphere Van Ark has come to appreciate during her time here.

“Hope has won the award for being one of the best places to work for several years, and there’s a good reason for it: they treat their employees like people, not assets.”

— Bethany Stripp, Library Student Blogger

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