Eckles throws a birthday party

Eckles Library celebrated its 20th anniversary last Monday with cake, balloons and a library-goer’s staple – coffee.

Fred Siegel, associate vice president and dean of freshmen, said Eckles Library on GW’s Mount Vernon Campus intends to continue providing intimate and useful services to students, 25-cent coffee included, as it continues to move forward and grow older.

“Sometimes libraries are looked at as places where you store collections of things,” Siegel said. “Our philosophy here . is really to make it a learning place with all kinds of academic support centers, with a great staff who try to reach out with the programming to their students, to help individual students with research . It’s a great quiet learning place where any GW student, (living on) both Mount Vernon or Foggy Bottom, can come to study quietly and students can get all kinds of support from staff.”

He noted that with the recent approval of the Pelham Hall renovation on GW’s Mount Vernon campus, Eckles will need to cater to a larger mass of students living at Mount Vernon.

“There will be a 40 percent increase in the number of students who will live here – that’s 210 extra students,” Siegel said. “The library has to be looking toward serving a much larger residential population. I will expect by 2010 Eckles will become a true 24-hour, seven-day-a-week library that is wonderfully utilized.”

Eckles Library is currently open until 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, but the building’s anniversary reminded students that there was a time when Eckles Library didn’t exist at all. The library was built for Mount Vernon College, an all-female institution GW purchased in 1999.

Prior to the construction of Eckles, the school had a small library beneath Post Hall, built in 1956. The 214 student, who lived on the campus and the 99 commuter students who took class at the school at this time were required to attend chapel each morning, went to sock hops and had imposed curfews.

Times have changed, and Eckles’ library manager John Danneker said the building has, too. In recent years, first floor stacks were moved in order to provide group study space, and staff members at Eckles have also given up office space in order to revamp the first floor for students.

GW freshman and Mount Vernon resident Paul Waters said he likes the new atmosphere.

“It’s really nice and very open. It looks very good,” he said.

Like Siegel, Danneker has plans for the future of Eckles.

“We have a lot of people coming in,” Danneker said. “We want to increase awareness of how good our services are. We’re comparable to Gelman, just smaller. It’s hard for them to give personalized service, but we’ll work with someone for a half-hour to use our catalog.”

Robin Delaloye, outreach coordinator for Eckles Library, works to spread the word about Eckles’ services.

“A lot of people are coming through the building,” Delaloye said. “We’ve never had that before. The emphasis is on what we can do for you.”

She pointed out services such as the staff’s AOL Instant Messenger screen name, their Eckles Flicks movie rental service, the writing center and a program allowing students to check out board games.

“We like to get to know student names and make time for student attention,” Delaloye said.

The personal feel permeates the student lounge, which is unexpectedly furnished with Legos, Captain Underpants books and jigsaw puzzles.

“We’re a spunky little library,” she said.

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