Gelman Library Gets a New Look, Improved Functionality

Key changes include a new entryway, expanded student space and updated research aids.

August 12, 2013

Renovated student space features chairs and tables

The expanded student space in the newly renovated Estelle and Marvin Gelman Library

Students returning to campus will notice a dramatic new look for the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library. The hub of campus life quietly debuted its renovated entrance floor today.

The facelift of the building includes a sleek and modern entryway opening on Kogan Plaza, featuring an outdoor patio, dining area, convenient wheelchair access, and revolving doors leading into the space, redesigned to enhance the learning and research experience for GW students.

Though the formal grand opening is scheduled for October 18 during Colonials Weekend, the space is open to the campus community beginning today.

"Walking through the new entry floor was an incredible capstone to a project that we started over three and a half years ago,” said alum and former Student Association president Jason Lifton, B.A. ’11.

“It's wonderful to see that the feedback we shared during the Student Association town hall meeting was carried through to create this beautiful finished product," Mr. Lifton said.

The renovation, which was planned with input from the GW community, was approved in May 2011 as part of the university’s FY 2012 budget.   

Construction of the new entrance level, on the structure’s second floor, which formerly housed several library departments including Administration, Content Management and Library IT, began soon after, during the summer of 2012 and features expanded student space.

In addition to a student lounge and laptop bars, the second floor also incorporates key  features such as a learning commons, multimedia lab, and data visualization space, which may be a new medium for some.

Geneva Henry, the new university librarian and vice provost for libraries, is excited to introduce researchers and students to the new technologies, such as the visualization room.

“Exploring digital information using visual methods can help identify patterns in millions of documents and data sets that are difficult to identify using more traditional technologies,” Ms. Henry said.

“Visualization can also be useful in exploring recreations of cultural and historic artifacts, including ancient cities that have been recreated based on archaeological finds,” she added.

The library staff is also planning workshops on multimedia for the university community to learn about the available resources at the library. 

"While many of the students who were part of that initial process have since graduated and moved on, I know that we are very happy to have left our impact on GW for future generations of students to use and enjoy," Mr. Lifton said.

These innovations are not only an improvement of services and amenities for incoming and current students, faculty and staff, but also a testament to the dedication of GW alumni, students and staff. Members of the campus community are encouraged to explore the new floor and the vast array of library services and collections at the second annual “Librarypalooza” event on August 26 during Welcome Week.

“We’re looking forward to letting students, faculty and staff take a peek at the space as we put on the finishing touches,” Associate University Librarian for Research and User Services Deborah Bezanson said.

“The new entrance floor is substantially complete but not 100 percent finalized— users will see “coming soon” signs with updates on the expected date of completion,” she added.

Ms. Bezanson also noted that comment cards will be provided throughout the floor and reviewed daily.

Also between August 13 and 25, there will be renovation and construction work to convert the former entrance area and circulation desk on the first floor into additional student space with some staff work areas.

With today’s opening of the new entrance level, the former H Street entrance is permanently closed and patrons are directed via posted signage to the new entrance off Kogan Plaza and onto the renovated entrance floor.

Both the new entrance level and the first floor are accessible via the elevators and center and back stairwells.

The university also has future plans to construct the National Churchill Library and Center on the first floor of the library.  

Please visit, or Twitter and Facebook pages for updates.