Dear GW alumni,
Gelman Library needs your help. GW students are entering their fifth week of the semester and already the flaws of Gelman Library are growing increasingly apparent. If you remember your time at GW, you too may have encountered the overcrowded study areas, the insufficient resources and the overall drab appearance that is not ideal for a study space. Midterm exam season is swiftly approaching, and as more students seek an inviting space conducive to reading or writing papers, we are reminded of just how integral the function of the campus library is to a university. Yet as it stands, Gelman remains largely underfunded and still cannot make improvements that would benefit all students at GW.
As of March 2009, Gelman administrators were looking to make major renovations to the library, but at a cost of $5 million. University officials insisted while they considered Gelman an important part of campus, other projects took precedence at the time. The entirety of the renovation project’s funding then fell to Gelman itself, and library administrators were forced to raise funds for improvements independently from GW.
Last year, the graduating Class of 2010 gave almost $75,000 to the Gelman Library Renovation Fund through the Senior Class Gift. This was an extremely important contribution to a project that was in dire need of a fiscal boost. But even after seniors donated a record-breaking amount of money to the library, Gelman has yet to meet its fundraising goal, and has still been unable to make the improvements it proposed so long ago.
And these changes are vital. Gelman is not designated for only students from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, or only students from one academic year. Unlike the architecturally impressive Duques Hall or the state-of-the-art facilities in the proposed Science and Engineering Complex, the purpose of Gelman is not simply to serve the needs of one subset of the GW community. It caters to all students, and yet its design and resources do not reflect that.
In the original renovation plans, Gelman administrators hoped to remodel the first floor of the building and add more personal workstations and reconfigurable furniture. They also hoped to increase natural lighting throughout the library by installing more windows. They even planned to build an outdoor reading garden by the entrance. These improvements would have benefitted not only the aesthetics of the building, but also the overall quality of the library.
With more funding for the planned renovations, Gelman could be an effective and valuable facility for students. As the incoming freshman class size grows every year, study space in cubicles will become even more scarce, lines at printers will become even longer and more students will be forced to sit in the hallways because they can’t find a place to study in the designated study areas.
Maybe you graduated last year, and the memories of late nights searching for a seat in Gelman are still fresh in your mind. Or, maybe you graduated years ago and you remember how the building was getting a bit outdated for its time. Regardless, Gelman has not been able to raise sufficient funds for improvements, and the problems with the library will continue to worsen unless alumni direct more donations to improving the facility. The campus library is often a marquee building for any university, and Gelman should be a source of pride for both former and current Colonials. Prospective students do not even get to see the inside of Gelman on campus tours. But with your help, that can change. With more funding, this important facet of campus life will finally meet students’ standards, and Gelman will reflect the value we all place on it.
Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this editorial.