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The GW Hatchet

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Board to decide Gelman Library’s first budget increase in a decade

Hatchet File Photo
Hatchet File Photo

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
The Board of Trustees will consider a $336,560 budget increase for Gelman Library’s collections budget Friday. If approved, it will be the historically underfunded library’s first budget increase in a decade.

Officials will make a pitch for a more than $300,000 increase to Gelman Library’s budget when they go in front of the Board of Trustees this week, marking what could be the library’s first funding increase in a decade.

The $336,560 addition would bring the library’s collections budget to a total of about $4.3 million, and University Librarian Geneva Henry said it would mean that the library would not have to cut its subscriptions to periodicals this year.

Subscription prices jump annually due to rising inflation, and the University has had to cut back each year as its budget has stayed stagnant, she said.

Provost Steven Lerman committed to continuing to increase the budget in the future, according to a GW Today release posted Wednesday.

“Elevating the quality of our teaching, research and service to society will happen only if we make well-informed choices about how we use our resources,” Lerman said in the release.

The increase comes about a year after outside consultants called the library significantly underfunded and in “very bad shape” overall. In the fall, the library completed a $16 million renovation to the entrance floor, though funding for services has remained flat.

Henry said she will spend this summer charting out the types of renovations she would like to see and preparing a long-term plan to pitch to potential donors.

The library will look to catch the eyes of donors who would be interested in growing collections based in interdisciplinary fields, such as sustainability. Some of those texts are listed on the library’s $25 million wish list compiled this year.

Henry said pitching specific texts is the best way to entice donors who need help narrowing their vision for gifts.

“It crosses these different disciplines, which is how the University has been structured and how our collection developments have been structured,” she said in an interview.

Without the same connections to alumni that GW’s 10 colleges have, the library struggles to bring in donations, Henry said. Instead, Gelman’s development team focuses on asking married alumni and parents to donate to the library because Henry said those groups are more likely to have interests in the University generally.

Henry added that she hoped fundraising would help librarians improve services, like sorting research data, which she said are a central component of a modern-day library.

While the library is not opening new faculty lines, Henry said she is looking for librarians with those skills as positions open, as well as experience in multimedia and data collection.

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