Officials to assess space concerns in Gelman as budget problems persist

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A faculty report recently found that Gelman Library could only seat 6 to 7 percent of the student body at a time.

Officials are working to make Gelman Library less crowded.

GW Libraries is conducting a space study of the University’s largest library “with the goal of generating a plan to maximize student seating and provide a variety of flexible spaces for study and instruction over the next 5-10 years,” Geneva Henry, the dean of libraries and academic innovation, said.

The announcement follows a December report from the Faculty Senate’s libraries committee that found the space is an issue in Gelman because the building can only seat 6 to 7 percent of the student body at a time.

Members of the committee found that GW Libraries, which operates Gelman as well as libraries on the Mount Vernon and the Virginia Science and Technology campuses, was in “dire need of greater resources.”

The report found that budget cuts in recent years have led to a “significant decrease” in staff at Gelman and that the library needed more administrative support to run “basic library services.”

Committee members wrote that Gelman could make better use of space to accommodate more students and needed to find better ways to access specialized information for professors researching specific topics.

“There seemed to be general agreement that resources were the main issue, and that GW libraries, while remaining in dire need of greater resources, were already thinking strategically rather than in broad terms about where resources should be invested,” according to the report.

Although budget cuts to both Gelman and the Jacob Burns Law Library have been significant, according to the report, Gelman’s budget for acquiring new books has not been affected. The law library has cut $700,000 from its $3 million acquisitions budget in response to forced spending cuts.

Henry said GW Libraries, like all non-academic units, has been asked to slash its budget by 20 to 25 percent over a five-year period, part of a far-reaching round of cuts that senior officials announced in 2015.

She said the libraries are trying to balance budget demands while also maintaining access to needed materials through journal and magazine vendors, adding that soaring journal prices are an added budget strain.

“The GW Libraries continue to work improve efficiency and control expenses while maintaining essential services,” she said in an email. “Our librarians actively negotiate with journal and database vendors to obtain the best possible prices on needed materials.”

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