Officials restrict Gelman Library access for neighbors

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Hatchet Photographer

As of this month, Foggy Bottom Association members no longer have access to Gelman Library.

Some neighbors are feeling left out of Gelman Library.

GW stopped allowing members of the Foggy Bottom Association who don’t live in the two zip codes closest to campus into Gelman Library at the beginning of April. GW’s community relations official said the staff made the change to give people officially affiliated with the University priority access to the library’s resources.

Britany Waddell, director of community relations, said in an email that the University stopped allowing FBA members who don’t live in the zip codes 20037 or 20006 to have access to the library on April 1. She added that GW officials had communicated with FBA leaders for several months before they made the formal change.

“This change standardizes the requirements for neighbors to be eligible to use selected university resources and also ensures that university facilities and resources are primarily available to students, faculty and staff,” Waddell said.

Anyone can join the FBA for $20 membership fee per year, and members are not required to live in Foggy Bottom. Students can join for a reduced $10 annual rate.

Waddell said the University will continue to allow neighbors who live in the two zip codes closest to campus to be able to purchase GWorld cards to have access to Gelman. After the change, FBA members who do not live in the listed zip codes and who are not students or employees are not eligible for the special access.

Community members living in the zip codes can buy GWorld cards for $5 with two forms of identification that prove the person lives in Foggy Bottom, according to the GWorld card office’s website. Neighbors can also add Colonial Cash to the card.

With the card, the person can purchase a general gym membership at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center for a little less than $600 a year, according to the website.

“Living in one of these zip codes is a requirement for accessing University resources that are available as a benefit to neighbors,” she said.

Waddell added that no community member has complained to the University about the change.

The West End Interim Library on Virginia Avenue and the Georgetown Neighborhood Library on R Street are the two closest public libraries to campus.

Marina Streznewski, the FBA president, said some FBA members frequently used their cards to access the library, while some only used the library occasionally. She said she has been hearing from “a lot” of FBA members who are complaining about the library restrictions.

“The FBA has been caught in the middle with this,” she said.

Streznewski said one FBA member who lives in Arlington, Va. and is a student at Kaplan University joined the FBA, so he could have access to Gelman. He asked for a refund for his FBA membership after GW made the change, Streznewski said.

She said the association will “adjust our membership policies accordingly.”

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