March 19, 2018

Jed Koops & Greg Sennema | Movers & Shakers 2004


Tag Team


They’re an unbeatable combination: Greg Sennema, digital resources librarian at Calvin College’s Hekman Library, and Jed Koops, library systems programmer. Sennema proposes; Koops disposes.

Koops says Sennema is a big-picture guy, with ‘an insatiable imagination.’ Sennema says he’s good at structuring resources the way users look for them, but his programming skills aren’t complex enough to match his ideas. He’s happy to tell Koops how it has to work, because ‘Jed can always create something out of what I ask of him.’

One of Sennema’s first assignments was to redesign the library’s web site. He quickly realized that maintaining thousands of linked resources from static web pages could be never-ending. So Koops developed a web-based content-management system known as Hobbes (for Calvin’s library). This allows Sennema to manage the library web page content easily and at the same time provides access to all the library’s resources: web catalog, web site, digital archive, e-book collection, and the content from a hundred subscription databases.

As Sennema became increasingly comfortable with Hobbes, he began to consider it to manage internal problems. The library recently switched from having just two full-time reference librarians to assigning all the librarians to stints at the reference desk. This caused communication problems: there was no good way to inform everyone of schedule changes, assignment alerts, or work in progress. Nor was there a good way to make sure messages in the ‘Ask a Librarian’ mailbox would be promptly answered.

Together, Sennema and Koops devised solutions using MySQL tables on Hobbes. Now, when librarians begin their reference shifts, they log on to Hobbes, open the Ask a Librarian file, and take responsibility for all queries that come in during their shifts. From Hobbes, they can also read and post messages on a reference blog and check the desk schedule.

The men bring similar backgrounds to their work. Sennema spent two years in Tanzania, while Koops, the son of two linguists, grew up in Nigeria. These experiences left each of them with a distaste for commercialism and an appreciation for tax-supported services that are a rarity in the Third World: roads, medical care, clean water, and libraries.

Sennema plans to remain in libraries, while Koops is on his way to a music career. He’s now studying for an advanced degree in composition.

Their differing skills and their habit of spurring each other on have made them a team greater than the sum of their individual parts. ‘I’ve sometimes wished I could be a killer librarian, with great ideas and the skills to implement them,’ Sennema says. ‘But then neither of us nor the library would have benefited from our synergy.’





Current Position: Library Systems Programmer, Hekman Library, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
Education: B.A. Music Theory and Composition, Calvin College, 1999; M.A. in Composition, Michigan State University, in progress
Musical Composition: The well-received ‘Dance of the Guava Tree Climbers’ captures African rhythms he grew up with


Current Position: Digital Resources and Reference/Instruction Librarian, Hekman Library, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
Education: M.A. in Information Studies, University of Toronto, 1996
First Job: Librarian for Toronto’s Globe and Mail