Gelman Library may gain membership in the American Research Library Association, establishing itself as a top research library and joining the ranks of Harvard University and the Library of Congress. This distinction would mark a tremendous turn around for the University and Gelman.
Jack Siggins and the folks who run Gelman should be congratulated for getting the library where it is now. It has come a long way from being a standard butt of GW jokes – and the target of much student anger. But regardless of whether Gelman is certified as a research library or not, the primary area of concern should be students.
Gelman has made great strides this year, introducing Windows-based ALADIN, a new computer lab and a more user-friendly attitude. Its reliance on student input is key. By listening directly to students, Gelman has been able to address some of the issues that were of highest concern to the people who use it most.
However, one of the biggest student concerns is the possible elimination of the Lexis-Nexis service. The costs are indeed quite steep, but the service is an invaluable tool for anyone doing research. Furthermore, a Web-based version will allow GW students and faculty to conduct research from their own terminals.
Thousands of students use Gelman Library, whether it is for research, class or computer labs. What matters most to them is not whether GW will be able to tout a new accomplishment when it pitches itself to prospective students, but whether they are able to find the necessary books, microfilm, etc. for research on their papers and projects. We understand that this determination will help to bring better services to the library but we hope that Gelman administrators keep students foremost in mind.