UPD chief: Revamped Gelman entrance will deter thefts, break-ins

Gelman Library’s refurbished entrance, which opened this month, includes security measures like glass door turnstiles and more security cameras to combat unlawful entries and thefts.

Security was a priority during the entrance redesign process for both Jack Siggins, who served as Gelman’s head librarian until last summer, and Kevin Hay, chief of the University Police Department. Both said the new features, including about 15 additional security cameras and chest-high turnstile doors, would help tighten security.

Hay said UPD had previously caught teenagers in Gelman who were “really thin” and able to squeeze through the turnstiles.

“With this new system of glass doors, they can’t do that. They would actually have to physically climb over, both coming and going,” Hay said.

UPD logged 37 thefts or robberies in the library from July 2012 through Wednesday, and 35 of those cases remained open or lacked suspects or witnesses. Officers also responded to three incidents in which people entered the building without permission, arresting suspects in two of those cases.

Siggins, who had served as GW’s head librarian for 17 years and remains a consultant for Gelman, said security was one of his “highest priorities” as he planned the overhaul.

“Security in this building, in any library, is really, really difficult because you don’t have many straight lines of sight,” he said.

Hay said the new layout allows desk staff to see both the entrance and exit gates at the same time. Before, staffers could only check the exit if they turned around, and a suspect could walk into the library through the exit gates while their backs were turned.

Officers arrested a teenager in February after he entered the the building through the library’s exit lane, and the Metropolitan Police Department also charged him with possession of and intent to distribute marijuana.

Aaron Goodtree contributed to this report.

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