University librarian to retire after 17 years at GW

The latest rendering of Gelman's redesign, overseen by University Librarian Jack Siggins, features a new entrance through Kogan Plaza. The building will undergo construction to the first and second floor starting this summer. Hatchet File Photo

The University’s longserving librarian, who has overseen multi-million dollar developments to Gelman Library for nearly two decades, will step down this summer.

Jack Siggins announced Monday that he will leave his post August 31 after 17 years at GW. He will continue to serve as a special adviser to Provost Steven Lerman through December 2013.

“I deeply appreciate Jack’s skilled leadership as university librarian and his dedication to the university,”  Lerman said in a release Monday, citing accomplishments like acquiring the two-millionth volume for GW’s library system in 2001.

Siggins, who has most recently been spearheading the $16 million Gelman redesign project, did not immediately return request for comment.

Construction for the three-year project is slated to begin this summer on the first and second floors of the library, which will relocate the building’s entrance to Kogan Plaza and add more study space to these levels.

The librarian also headed up projects including the National Churchill Library and Center, an $8 million collection of books and research materials dedicated to former British prime minister Winston Churchill; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor Research Center, archives that recount more than a decade of labor history; and the Global Resources Center, a research headquarters for political and economic records spanning the globe.

Siggins said he looks forward to spending more time with his family and focusing on personal research projects.

“I am confident that, under the leadership of President Knapp, Provost Lerman and the deans, the staff will be even more successful in service to GW and will reaffirm the rightful place of the libraries as the ‘heart of the university’” Siggins said in a release Monday.

Siggins was hired in 1995 after serving as a deputy university librarian at Yale University, with experience also at the Library of Congress, the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago.

Aria Varasteh, the library’s student liaison who graduated this year, said Siggins often sought out his feedback on the redesign. While attending meetings about the planning process, Varasteh said Siggins made a point to give him the floor.

“Other people would cut me off, but he would say, ‘Listen to Aria,'” Varasteh recalled about the discussions. “Siggins would tell me, ‘I want to hear student opinion on the final draft of everything.'”

“Of all administrators I’ve met, I believe [Siggins] cares about students the most,” he added.

– Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.

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