Thanking: Tom Volkening

July 26, 2022

Engineering Librarian Tom Volkening retires from MSU Libraries 

After 37 years of service as a librarian at Michigan State University, especially helping Spartan Engineers, Tom Volkening will be retiring on July 29.

He served as the Engineering Librarian at MSU for more than 35 years, and before coming to MSU, spent seven years as a librarian at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Tom Volkening
Tom Volkening

Engineering Librarian Tom Volkening will be honored with a retirement open house on Wednesday, July 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Green Room at MSU Libraries. 

“I have met and worked with a lot of interesting people in the MSU Libraries, the Construction Management Program, and the College of Engineering,” he said. 

He joined the MSU Libraries as the Engineering Librarian in 1984. He directed the Engineering Library which began in 1963 when the Engineering building opened. As Engineering Librarian, he helped design the layout of the new Engineering Library, supervised the move from its old location on the third floor in the original wing of the Engineering Building to its location on the first floor and supervised several major renovations over the years.

In 2015, he oversaw the move of collections and services to the Main Library when the branch closed after over half a century. He has maintained strong ties with faculty, staff, and students in the College of Engineering. He encouraged several Engineering Library staff members to pursue master’s degrees in library science. Over the years, six Engineering Library student employees have gone on to become librarians.

During his career, he has worked on a number of major projects including serving as the library representative on a grant funded project in the mid-1990s called the Network for Excellence in Manufacturing (a database of free online resources useful for Michigan’s small to medium sized manufacturers); digitization of the student publication, Spartan Engineer; and due to his extensive gardening experience, he served on the MSU Library’s seed library team. After moving to the Main Library, he took on additional duties including serving on the Main Library Reference Desk, doing email reference, and taking on collection development responsibility for the purchase of general science materials for the Main Library. He served as interim Physics and Astronomy Librarian when the Physics and Astronomy Librarian retired and again when the person in the position left the MSU Libraries to take a library position at another institution.

He was the 2020 recipient of the MSU Libraries Career Achievement Award and the 2021 Homer I. Bernhardt Award from the American Society for Engineering Education-Engineering Libraries division. He has been an active member of the Engineering Libraries Division of the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Special Libraries Association, and the Michigan Academic Library Association.

Volkening hopes to spend more time gardening in retirement and visit new places to take pictures and create more memories.

“Along the way, I have learned a lot and made some friends,” he said. “All of my retired friends tell me that I will be busier than ever when I retire. I hope that is true. I am looking forward to whatever comes next.”