Douglas Cohen: Band-Aids: Not a cure for Gelman

There is no question that Gelman Library needs improvements, upgrades and modifications. The drab, crowded, uninspiring building is filled with broken and uncomfortable furniture, an inadequate ventilation system and a scarcity of modern technology.

This simple and unavoidable fact remains: Gelman needs a complete overhaul. Last year, University Librarian Jack Siggins told The Hatchet that because only minor changes had been made to the library’s infrastructure in the last thirty years, Gelman’s resources are unable to handle inevitable student growth and evolving technology.

The question is, what is the most sensible and practical way to completely remodel Gelman?

Our current methods of improving Gelman are ineffective. Throwing money at the library to implement inconsequential changes like repaving the outside entrance, providing new furniture and refurbishing the seventh floor is essentially wasting money.

These repairs or upgrades have no merit. They do not address the fundamental problems the library faces, like overcrowding and a lack of new technology. GW is merely applying Band-Aids to Gelman when the library needs surgery.

Our only focus on Gelman should be constructing a viable plan for complete renovation of the building.

If that doesn’t happen, the University will continue on an erratic, wasteful path of remodeling, which won’t ultimately improve Gelman. All the minor changes do not solve the fact that there are still not enough group study rooms, it is impossible to find a seat on Sunday night and there are not enough computers or printers. With the University publicly stating that fundraising for the library is low, GW must conserve money for a major overhaul rather than for a small facelift.

Every time the University adds a new piece of furniture, it gives GW an excuse to put off large-scale renovations. Incentives to engage in long-term changes to Gelman disappear when the administration can continue to point to its investment in short-term reform. Students should speak out, consistently and loudly, if they want Gelman to be remodeled.

Even if the first floor were to be remodeled as planned, five other floors remain and fixing those will be no easy task. At this point, it will take just as much effort to convince the University to remodel all of Gelman as it would for just one floor, so focusing on only the first floor wastes leverage with GW administrators. Our efforts to fix Gelman’s ailments would be much more effective if we had a single integrated plan, rather than multiple uncoordinated ones.

The next time you go to Gelman, ask yourself if your experience at the library has really improved since the addition of the new chairs. While it may seem counterintuitive to leave Gelman on life support, continually making repairs thwarts our efforts to truly improve our library.

-The writer, a sophomore, is majoring in political science.

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