Library faces more construction

The University will install a fire-prevention sprinkler system in Gelman Library this year, adding more construction to a building already undergoing renovation for a first-floor Starbucks.

The sprinkler system is being installed for safety reasons, University Librarian Jack Siggins said.

“What is really driving us here is the need to have some fire protection in the building,” Siggins said.

When Gelman Library was built 30 years ago, there was not a fire suppression system installed due to a relaxed city code. The code has since changed, but because the library was built under the old rule, officials were never bound to install the system.

Sprinklers will be added to the library’s lower level and first through fifth floors. A similar system is already in place in the recently renovated sixth and seventh floors.

Library officials could not give an official start date for the construction but said it could begin in the next month and will last about a year. Parts of each floor will be closed for no more than a day on a rotating basis.

“It is going to be a mammoth process,” Siggins said.

Senior Damien Gardner, Gelman’s student liaison, called the construction a necessity for the library.

“It will be disruptive, very much so at times, just like any other construction process,” Gardner said. “But in the long run, it will be very beneficial to students. If a fire starts it becomes a very bad situation.”

If work goes according to plan, Siggins said only small portions of a floor would be closed at any given time.

“We will have a detailed plan so that as we go through the building, we can cause the least amount of disruption, in small intervals,” Siggins said. “We will notify the students and faculty with signs, on the Web pages, as to what part of the floor might not be available on a given day.”

In addition to installing a fire suppression system, Gelman is in the process of constructing a Starbucks in the library’s first floor 24-hour study room. The shop is expected to open in December.

When completed, Siggins said a portion of the 24-hour study room would also house a small study alcove. Until then, three floors – the lower level and fourth and fifth floors – will remain open at all times to compensate for the lost seating on the ground floor.

“We will see what the demand is like, and if too many students show up at two or three in the morning, we might open up a new floor,” Siggins said.

GW has a revenue-sharing contract with Starbucks that could potentially give Gelman upwards of $40,000 a year.

“We are coming out of this really smelling like a rose,” Siggins said, adding that the revenue from the Starbucks deal will be used for student needs.

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