William & Mary

Swem Make a Difference Fund

Swem Library encourages curiosity and exploration

When Zachary Woodward ’14 was considering colleges for his undergraduate studies, he was searching for a place with a strong sense of community, robust academics, and extensive research services. He found those features and more at the College of William & Mary.

As a William & Mary student, Zach has found that his classes inspire him to think critically, ask questions and seek answers, and he’s learned that the College’s Swem Library gives him the resources he needs to explore and discover.

Zachary Woodward '14

“One of the missions of this school is to foster an environment in which students are encouraged to ask challenging questions and aggressively seek answers,” he said. “Without a first-class library, we would lose the sources of information that both spark our initial question-asking and guide us through the process of question-answering.”

Zach, a religious studies and government major from Franklin, Mass., was introduced to the wealth of information available at Swem Library through an assignment for his freshman seminar in religious studies. Deciding to focus on the Gospel of John for his topic, he visited the library – unsure of what he would find.

“After finding a huge number of helpful sources from both the online databases and circulation materials, I came to truly appreciate how helpful Swem can be for students,” he said.

That first encounter inspired Zach to get more involved with the library. In addition to using the library for research, Zach has worked as a student assistant in Swem’s Special Collections Research Center since his freshman year. In this position, Zach assists the library’s archivists, digitizes special collections materials to make them available online, and performs clerical tasks.

But the library isn’t just a place for research or study, according to Zach. It’s a place where students create video projects, grab coffee in the café, borrow the latest summer blockbuster, or visit for any number of reasons.

“The library is multifunctional, and everyone has different reasons for using Swem,” Zach said. “Its central location makes Swem an ideal meeting spot for students or faculty members to work on projects.”

Providing topnotch resources and services would not be possible without the support and commitment of Swem Library donors. Annual gifts to the Swem Make a Difference Fund in particular help the library meet its most pressing needs, grow its collections, support a knowledgeable staff, and provide cutting-edge techniques and up-to-date materials for students like Zach and his classmates.

“Swem has defined my William & Mary experience in much the same way as my professors and the community,” he said. “The library has provided me with the opportunity to explore the academic world beyond the classroom. I am extremely grateful that Swem has allowed me to flourish as a student.”