Gelman strives to spruce up services

Gelman Library’s possible entrance into the ranks of the nation’s research facility elite comes on the heels of a year devoted to making the library more student-friendly.

The American Research Library Association will consider admitting Gelman Library this fall, an invitation that University Librarian Jack Siggins said would be a recognition of the library’s expansion into a top-notch institution.

Customer service has been high on the priority list at Gelman this year, and Siggins said library administrators have laid out several goals to make the facility user-friendly.

“Our biggest goal is responsiveness,” Siggins said. “We are working hard to try to find out what improvements students want.”

In recent years, the library has increased its budget to enhance both technology and collections. But Siggins said improvements still can be made to the quality of the book collection and the electronic resources in the library.

Another goal of Gelman’s administration is “to meet the needs of students who are concerned that books are not there when they need them,” Siggins said.

In an effort to eliminate that problem, Gelman restructured its check-out policy last summer to prevent books from being long overdue, he said. Changes to Gelman’s access policy mean resources only are available to members of the University community, with few exceptions.

But though Gelman has made strides this year in improving the accessibility of its resources, some students are still unhappy with aspects of the service at the library.

Improved interaction with library staff should be an area of emphasis, students said.

Freshman Anand Dharawat said he always has problems dealing with library employees.

Siggins said by going to the right place for information, students can eliminate problems with staff members. Going to the reference desk, for example, ensures that immediate answers to research questions, he said.

Some students said they have had good experiences with library staff.

“Everyone was very helpful. They called another school in the D.C. area and had a book sent. It was a positive experience,” freshman Peter Balazy said.

Additionally, improvements are constantly being made to ensure that the library provides the best possible resources for research.

“I think Gelman has done a decent job at helping to find information in a fair amount of time. But like everything in this school, it could use some more improvement,” said junior business major Eric Mallia.

Columbian School freshman Todd Schulman said Gelman was more than sufficient when he was writing a research paper for an English 11 class.

“I really had no trouble finding stuff. There was plenty of information available for even an obscure topic like mine,” Schulman said.

Mallia said he’s seen an improvement in research materials since his first two years at GW.

“Research papers have become far more easier to do since I started at the University,” he said. “I used to go the Library of Congress for help.”

Siggins said membership in the ARL will boost the school’s research capacity because all of the association’s members must allow students and faculty from other member schools access to their facilities.

Gelman’s other major goal this year has been to re-evaluate and increase the space in the building designated for studying, Siggins said.

Balazy said he and his friends have found little space to study at the library.

“During pledging there were very few quite areas in Gelman for us to study in. Most of the time we ended up in loud rooms where we did very little work,” Balazy said.

Siggins said renovations to the library mean that obstacle will soon be eliminated.

“The seventh floor will be renovated beginning this May and will be done by August,” Siggins said. “The sixth floor will be made for stacks and small group reading rooms.”

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