Students, faculty, staff and parents and families visiting for Colonials Weekend celebrated the grand opening of the newly renovated entrance floor of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library on Friday.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorated the library’s entrance floor renovation and the efforts of key members of the university community to create a state-of-the art hub of student life with resources for collaboration, research and learning.
“At GW, the library is a place where students congregate and aspire to achieve the stature that we, as a university, are striving for,” President Steven Knapp said. “This great space is a symbol of what that means.”
The entrance floor facelift has garnered praise from students and faculty since the soft opening earlier this semester.
“It is beautiful and it is great to see students using it,” said former Student Association President Jason Lifton who advocated for the renovation. “The library is the backbone of GW and as a world-class university, we now have what is on its way to being a world-class library.”
The space features a modern entryway on Kogan Plaza, an outdoor reading terrace and updated research and learning resources, including the interactive “Learning Commons.”
“The library has always been a place where knowledge is shared, information is exchanged and new ideas are born through collaboration,” University Librarian and Vice Provost for Libraries Geneva Henry said as she welcomed the crowd on Friday. “As technology has changed over time and books have been enhanced through digital resources, creating this new space reflects those changes and is intended to encourage that knowledge cycle.”
In October 2010 the Board of Trustees approved the renovation plan.
In the spirit of maintaining student-input, current SA president Julia Susuni will continue to meet with Ms. Henry to discuss potential updates and services for students at the library.
“I am very excited to be able to carry on the vision that was spearheaded by Mr. Lifton,” Ms. Susuni said.
Former university librarian and current Special Assistant to the Provost Jack Siggins said the first floor renovation was the result of open planning meetings with students to design the Learning Commons, input from the GW Libraries Development Advisory Council, advice from faculty and Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Stephen Ehrmann and assistance from the Division of Information Technology and members of the Academic Technologies department.
This interdisciplinary approach to the process is inherent in the democratic nature of the library, which Provost Steven Lerman described.
“The library by its nature is a meeting place and central point,” Dr. Lerman said. “It serves all disciplines.”
Members of the Gelman family, Elaine and William Miller and Elise and Marc Lefkowitz, attended the celebration, as did John Safer, A.A. ’46, B.A. ’47, a GW honorary degree recipient and sculptor of "the Golden Quill,” which resides on the entrance floor.