University Libraries awards three customer service ‘KARE’ awards to staff, faculty

Three 2023 KARE award winners with Dean of Libraries Julie Garrison.
Posted by University Libraries on

The University Libraries recognized three library staff and faculty for outstanding customer service to the Western Michigan University community. Paul Heintz, Marianne Swierenga and Sara Volmering received KARE awards, a peer-nominated award recognizing knowledgeable, accessible, responsive and empathetic customer service.

Paul Heintz, electronic resources acquisition specialist, standing in stacks at Waldo Library.Paul Heintz
Electronic Resources Acquisitions Specialist

Paul Heintz’s deep knowledge of library systems and his collaborative approach to putting “puzzle pieces” together help colleagues and customers use the library. Heintz’s patience and willingness to go above and beyond help people throughout the library access resources in our vast collections.

“What I enjoy most about working here are the people I work with,” says Heintz. “It is especially enjoyable when we work together as a team to solve problems as we often do, with each of us contributing our specialized knowledge. Everyone is always accessible and responsive.”

Marianne Swierenga, cataloging and metadata libarian, standing outside of Waldo Library.Marianne Swierenga
Cataloging and Metadata Librarian

Marianne Swierenga’s approach to customer service utilizes her “exemplary skill sets” and knowledge of cataloging and metadata to help library users behind the scenes. Colleagues noted Swierenga’s great customer service helps “a wide spectrum of patrons, internally and externally, who benefit from her concerted efforts of being an unofficial KARE ambassador.”

“I best serve our users by providing complete, accurate, and helpful descriptions to library materials, making the library catalog a quality user experience,” says Swierenga.

Swierenga is known for her insightful, sensitive interactions, approachable and supportive demeanor and willingness to pitch in and help on any project.

“I enjoy making discoveries of things in the Libraries' collection—new items just acquired or materials that we've had for some time,” says Swierenga. “There are amazing things, each with their own story, in the stacks and within our special collections and archives. I feel lucky to work with and describe these materials so others can find, use, and be amazed too.”

Sara Volmering, marketing manager, standing in the Meader Room at Waldo Library.Sara Volmering
Marketing Manager

Sara Volmering was recognized as a “go-to person” with deep knowledge of how libraries work who is “always striving to be better” through innovative and creative ways. Her work to introduce students to the Libraries at events and orientations and through various communication channels provides a valuable connection to the Western community.

“I love helping our students and community discover all of the wonderful resources that can bring value to their lives,” says Volmering. “Sometimes I meet people who have never used a library before, and I feel really blessed to help them figure out the many opportunities available to them.”

Volmering was noted for asking questions from the customer’s perspective and approaching “customer service like she approaches everything, with an open mind and open heart.”

“I serve our community by making sure they know what’s happening and how they can use the library to learn and grow academically, personally, or professionally.”