Kelly Jacobsma, who is director of libraries at Hope College, has been appointed the first recipient of the college's new Genevra Thome Begg Director of Libraries endowed chair.
A member of the Hope library faculty since 1988, Jacobsma became director of libraries on July 1, 2008, following the retirement of long-time director David Jensen. Her appointment to the endowed position will become effective on July 1, 2009.
In addition to recognizing faculty members for excellence, endowed chairs provide funding for summer research projects as well as some salary support. The college has a total of 19 endowed chairs for faculty and three endowed administrative positions.
Begg's interest in the college stemmed from the year early in the 20th century that her late husband Raymond had attended the high school that Hope had operated in its earlier decades. Married only 11 years prior to his untimely death in 1956, they had visited Hope and Holland together just once, because she wished to see one of the places in which he had spent his youth. From that single visit her relationship with and appreciation for the college grew.
"Genevra Thome Begg was a devoted and long-time friend of Hope College," said Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman. "We at Hope are pleased when alumni support the college because of their own outstanding experiences and when parents support Hope because the college has made a positive difference in their children's lives, but it is also very meaningful to us when someone outside of the immediate Hope family values what the college has to offer and chooses to support Hope and its mission."
Born and raised in Sparta, Wis., Genevra Thome Begg attended Ward-Belmont Preparatory School in Nashville, Tenn. She was also a graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.
Following her husband Raymond's death, she established the Raymond VanRenssalaer Begg Scholarship at Hope in his honor. She also added to the fund over many years, and enjoyed corresponding with the dozens of Hope students assisted by her generosity.
As she had received training in library science and worked for several years in a library, she began planning to also give an endowed chair for the director of libraries at Hope. She died at age 95 on November 2, 2007, and her love of libraries and the college resulted in her bequest to establish the Genevra Thome Begg Chair.
"Our library has received national recognition for the high quality of its work in serving undergraduate students, and Genevra's generous gift of a chair affirms all of the library staff who have helped build our outstanding program through the years," Bultman said. "Kelly Jacobsma's vision for the program and her leadership make her an ideal first recipient of the chair, and we are grateful for the support that the endowment will provide as she and her staff work together to continue and build upon the library's tradition of excellence."
Jacobsma joined the library staff as a reference librarian, and was promoted to head of public services in 1990 and associate professor in 1995. She served as the library's acting director from January to August of 1994 while Jensen was on a sabbatical leave. Among other grant projects, she was co-director during 2001-02 of a joint initiative with the department of English focused on information and literacy writing funded through an SBC Ameritech Partnership Award for Independent Colleges.
Her ongoing professional activities have included serving on committees and in elected positions with the Michigan Library Association and the American Library Association, and as a MeL (Michigan Electronic Library) trainer on behalf of the Michigan Library Consortium. She is a member of the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Prior to coming to Hope, Jacobsma was with Central Michigan University for six years, first as a regional librarian and then as manager of off-campus library services. She holds her bachelor's degree from Northern Michigan University, and an MILS degree from the University of Michigan.
The Hope library has 21 full- and part-time staff, who during the school year are assisted by approximately 100 part-time student employees. The five-story Van Wylen Library building, which opened in 1988, is named for the college's ninth president and his wife, Dr. Gordon J. and Dr. Margaret D. Van Wylen. The library provides 24/7 access to thousands of digital scholarly resources including electronic journals, books, reference works, images, music and databases in addition to housing more than 370,000 volumes at the Van Wylen Library and the Nykerk Hall of Music library.
In 2004, the Van Wylen Library was named the national winner in the college category of the "Excellence in Academic Libraries Award" presented by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).