Estelle and Melvin Gelman LibraryEckles Library at the Mount Vernon CampusVirginia Science and Technology Campus Library

News and Events

New study carrels on the 3rd floorGelman will add 120 new study carrels (with outlets!) to the 3rd floor before Final exams begin! 

Weekdays April 18-25 between 6am-2:30pm there will be some disruption to the 3rd floor while old furniture is removed and new furniture is installed.

Library Life HacksMonday, April 14 at 11am
Tuesday, April 15 at 2pm
Gelman Library, Entrance Floor Lab

Are you making Google Drive work for you?  Wonder what's the deal with Dropbox?  Come to this workshop and test it all out!

Library Life Hacks is a new series offered by the librarians of the GW Libraries. These 30 minute workshops offer practical solutions to save you hours of needless work.


Diversity at GWWednesday, April 23
Gelman Library, 702
Refreshments to follow

Please join us for a presentation by the four recipients of our first ever University Archives Diversity Research Fellowships.
Learn more about the history of GW veterans, women, international students, and service workers that our fellows discovered in the archives!

Punch Up Your Presentation

Thursday, April 3
4:30PM –OR- 7PM
Gelman Library, Entrance Floor Lab
Please bring any presentation you're working on.

Have a final presenation due for class?  A job interview?  Come by and see how you can punch up your presentation!

Library Life Hacks is a new series offered by the librarians of the GW Libraries. These 30 minute workshops offer practical solutions to save you hours of needless work.


GW Libraries Receives Innovation Grant to Support Social Media Software DevelopmentIn August the GW Libraries received a $24,550 Sparks! Ignition Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to fund the continued development of custom-built software that collects data from Twitter. Social media materials are by their nature ephemeral and at risk of disappearing. As collecting institutions like libraries and museums strive to document social and political developments, social media is becoming increasingly important. Institutions have used this type of technology to collect material from the Occupy Wall Street movement, the political transition between U.S. Presidential terms, and university controversies like the recent presidential scandal at the University of Virginia.

The GW Libraries’ open source software, known as Social Feed Manager, automates the process of collecting data from individual Twitter accounts; to date, it has collected over 3 million tweets from over 1,000 accounts. The software is part of our ongoing effort to assist faculty in their research endeavors; several GW faculty members are actively using Social Feed Manager to collect materials for academic research on digital journalism and microblog analytics. Faculty members are also incorporating the software in the classroom to teach students how to analyze the use of social media by members of Congress. In addition, the GW Libraries utilizes Social Feed Manager to collect Twitter feeds from university administrators and student organizations for our University Archives.

The one-year funding from IMLS is enabling a team from the GW Libraries, led by Dan Chudnov, Director of Scholarly Technology, to enhance Social Feed Manager so that it becomes a robust, reliable, implemented, documented, and tested application. “The Social Feed Manager application is a natural extension of what libraries have always done:  helping members of their community navigate through a massive volume of information and zero in on the material they need to perform their work,” said Chudnov. “By collecting, preserving, transforming, and making social media data available to our faculty in this way, GW Libraries staff creates a strategic advantage for our research community, removing the drudgery of slogging through unorganized information and helping faculty members move quickly from concept to the heart of their research work.”

As part of this grant-funded initiative, the GW Libraries has partnered with other cultural organizations that have an interest in Social Feed Manager to ensure that the software is functional for a wide range of collecting institutions and goals. On December 11 and 12, the GW Libraries brought together representatives from libraries, archives, and funding organizations to share institutional activity around social media data, discuss use cases for the Social Feed Manager software, and identify areas and priorities for further development. They also tested installation of the software and explored development ideas. Over the next several months, a handful of institutions will also install, run, and provide feedback on Social Feed Manager.

Full documentation for the installation and use of the software is currently available online and is continuously updated with the latest release notes and installation instructions, so that those interested can to track the progress of the software and participate in the project. At the conclusion of the grant-funded project, the GW Libraries will issue a white paper detailing the range of needs identified by the group for using Social Feed Manager.

The Eckles Prize for Freshman Research ExcellenceThe Eckles Prize for Freshman Research Excellence, established in 2007, is awarded to students who create, in their freshman year, a research project demonstrating extensive and noteworthy use of the GW Libraries. Freshmen may submit for consideration a research project written for any course taken during that academic year. The first, second, and third-place winners were selected by the Eckles Prize committee, chaired by John Danneker, Director of the Eckles Library on the Mount Vernon campus.   

For the 2012-2013 year, the Eckles Prize tied for the largest number of applications. Students submitted papers from diverse subject areas, including literature, pop culture, art, and community service, and from a wide range of courses, including political science, international affairs, and history. “One of the greatest things about the Eckles Prize,” said Danneker, “is the way that submissions originate from many disciplines and viewpoints.”

This year’s winning papers were selected by a committee of teaching faculty and librarians who evaluated the entries using a rubric featured on the Eckles Prize web page.  Danneker noted that while the selection committee looked for well-written papers, members also judged applications based on the students’ reflections on their own research processes, as they serve as indications of the students’ growth and development.  “Each project submitted must be accompanied by a research reflection essay,” Danneker explained. “The committee is often looking for students whose research reflections and essays show a depth and breadth of both research sources and techniques that lead to a strong final product.”

The 2013 first-place winner of the Eckles Prize was Emma Perloff for her submission, “Hierarchy, Home and Homeland: The Dutch Golden Age in Frans Hals’ Family Group in the Landscape.” She initially chose the topic based on an assignment in her ‘Dutch Painting at the National Gallery of Art’ course, but then found a research area that captured her deeper interest. According to Perloff, “As I began my research, I found that most group portraits of the Dutch Golden Age were of their civic guard, which I was not very interested in. Instead, I decided to focus on family portraits as a way to examine gender roles. When I found Frans Hals’ Family Group in a Landscape, c. 1648, I realized it was the perfect vehicle through which to discuss the hierarchical nature of Dutch society at the time—from gender roles to race relations, and then to the grander paintings of the Dutch Civic Guard.”

For her winning paper, Perloff worked with Professor Rachel Pollack, Adjunct Instructor of Writing, whom she credits for encouraging her to delve further into her topic.  “For a while I had no idea how to focus my topic—I thought I had to focus on gender roles OR race relations OR hierarchy in the Civic Guard, and I had no idea how to connect them all!” explained Perloff. “I talked to my professor about it and she helped me realize that I could write my paper in sections that focused on each of those topics, while tying them together with a general theme—hierarchy depicted through gesture.” Once she focused her topic, Perloff says she used Gelman Library’s online databases JStor and Artstor, as well as the National Gallery of Art’s library, to find her sources.

Going forward, Perloff feels that winning the Eckles Prize will guide her in her future research, not only in the way she organizes her writing process but in how she chooses topics. “I think both submitting my research to the Eckles Prize committee and winning the prize has helped me reflect on the work I did, allowing me to learn from my successes and my challenges. It also helped me realize that paintings that are less famous can have a whole lot to say! They can provide interesting insight that we may otherwise miss.”

The second place winner of the 2013 Eckles Prize was William King, who worked with faculty sponsor Abby Wilkerson, Associate Professor of Writing, on his paper, “Of Gangsters and Bakers: Cake Boss, Stereotypes, and the Italian American Identity.” Two students tied for third place: Marissa Young for her project, “Fans and Fanatics of Jane Austen,” and Megan Mattson for her paper entitled, “Do Electoral Systems Affect Female Representation?” Please visit our website to view the papers of all of the 2013 winners.

The Eckles Prize is currently funded through the Eckles Library’s annual fund, but the Library is seeking to establish an endowment for the prize. “We would love the opportunity to hear from folks interested in helping us make the Prize an annual award into perpetuity,” said Danneker. “It’s an opportunity that speaks to the academic legacy of the Mount Vernon campus and the future of GW as a top-tier research institution, since I feel that capabilities in library research and the intelligent use and creation of information is critical to contributions to a well-educated and thoughtful society.” If you would like to learn more about this philanthropic opportunity, please contact us at 202-994-1154.   

University Receives Grant to Establish D.C. Africana Archives Project
Photo of Congressman Walter Fauntroy with Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, from the Special Collections Research Center at GW's Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library

The George Washington University has received nearly $496,000 in funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to establish the D.C Africana Archives Project (DCAAP), a collaborative initiative to document African American and African diaspora culture, history and politics in D.C.

The 33-month grant was awarded to the Special Collections Research Center at the GW Libraries and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ Africana Studies Program in December through CLIR’s Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program. It was the largest awarded among those received by 22 universities, colleges, museums, libraries, and non-profit organizations.

“We at the GW Libraries are thrilled to partner with leading archives across the city to document the African American experience in Washington, D.C.,” University Librarian and Vice Provost for Libraries Geneva Henry said. “This generous funding will enable us to provide research access to Washingtoniana collections from six institutions, while also integrating these materials into academic courses through a close collaboration with GW’s Africana Studies Program.”

The Special Collections Research Center at the GW Libraries and the Africana Studies Program will partner with the District of Columbia ArchivesHoward University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Centerthe Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the National Museum of American History's Archives Center  and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on the project.

Funding will be used to improve cataloging, arrangement and descriptions of more than 125 collections containing thousands of photographs, documents, audio recordings and films that chronicle the lives of D.C.’s black community. A centralized web database will be created to guide researchers, students and faculty through the collections.

“As resources for processing and cataloging backlogs of archival collections remain scarce, this grant provides an amazing opportunity for the partnering institutions to address significant portions of their collections,” University Archivist Bergis Jules said.

Mr. Jules and Director of the Africana Studies Program Jennifer James will oversee the implementation of the funding. Project development will begin in the coming months.

The diverse wealth of historical documents held by GW and DCAAP partners traces the history of black life in D.C., from records of slavery and servitude, to the unparalleled legacy of trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie and the political prowess of Sharon Pratt Kelly, the first black female mayor of a major U.S. city.

The majority of GW’s DCAAP archival contribution is centered on famed civil rights activist Walter E. Fauntroy, a lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and D.C.’s first non-voting delegate to Congress.

“The range of documents in these collections is impressive, and many are exceedingly rare,” said Dr. James, who is also an associate professor of English at GW. “We are confident that increased access will generate surprising discoveries about black life in D.C. and lead to new and ground-breaking research.”

The funding will also be used to provide resources for community involvement, preservation workshops for small collecting institutions and the development of a model course on conducting archival research for high school students.

In addition, DCAAP will serve as an educational resource for students, faculty and researchers within the university community. Faculty in the Africana Studies Program will use the collections to develop interdisciplinary research projects, undergraduate courses and scholarly forums.

“We hope this grant will position GW as an intellectual center for this kind of work in the future,” Dr. James said.

Adapted from GW Today

The Colonial Lodge No 1821
The Colonial Lodge No. 1821 Worshipful Master Nicholas Sampogna, B.A.’10, M.A. ’12, with University Archivist Bergis Jules, University Librarian and Vice Provost for Libraries Geneva Henry and Secretary Morgan Corr, B.A.’07 at the MOU signing

The Colonial Lodge No. 1821, a Masonic lodge founded by George Washington University alumni, pledged a portion of membership dues to the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library at an event held in December.

The lodge signed the memorandum of understanding and wrote the commitment, a yearly contribution of 10 percent of members’ dues, into their bylaws in support of the library’s efforts to become a state-of-the-art hub of campus life with resources for collaboration, research and learning.

We're honored and humbled to receive this thoughtful and generous donation from the Colonial Lodge No. 1821,” University Librarian and Vice Provost for Libraries Geneva Henry said. “This gift will provide and promote new resources for the students, faculty and staff of the GW community and support the creation of information in diverse formats.”

“The alignment of their mission with GW Libraries' mission could not be stronger,” she said.

According to Co-Founder and Secretary Morgan Corr, B.A.’07, the commitment was a way to honor the rich history of Freemasonry at the university, which began with university namesake President George Washington.

“The whole allegory of Masonry is focused on dispensing light, with light being a metaphor for knowledge” Mr. Corr said. “There is no better place for us to support that part of our mission and the mission of the university than through the library.”

The lodge, named to reflect the founding year of the university, was granted a dispensation by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia in 2008 and chartered in 2009. It is modeled after the first university lodges begun at Oxford and Cambridge and grounded in the traditional credos of brotherly love, relief and truth.

The Colonial Lodge No. 1821 counts former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg among its founding members and has expanded to include 53 alumni, faculty and staff, undergraduate and graduate students and other members of the university community. Membership to the Colonial Lodge No. 1821 is considered on a rolling basis. In addition to meeting six times per year and planning social events, the lodge also works on at least four community service projects each year.

“We do the majority of our community service projects in Foggy Bottom,” Mr. Corr said. “In 2013, we decided we wanted to re-engage with the university community, and sponsor more service projects, host alumni events and make a formal donation to the university.” 

The lodge hopes to participate in the university’s celebration of George Washington’s birthday and continue hosting successful alumni events. It is also negotiating the process of having its archives stored in Gelman Library, Mr. Corr said.

“There is great symmetry with the library given the Masonic history at GW and our commitment to spreading knowledge,” Mr. Corr said. “We are excited to continue this relationship.”

Adapted from GW Today

The City as a Muse: Study Abroad Research and Embedded Librarianship
Librarian Bill Gillis and Paris students pose in front of the renowned Left Bank Shakespeare and Company bookstore

The GW Libraries’ research librarians are constantly exploring new ways to collaborate with university faculty across campus to advance student research skills. As subject matter experts, these skilled librarians have specialized expertise in the sources and research approaches of specific disciplines. A recent innovative collaboration embedded one of our research librarians in GW’s study abroad program to facilitate discussions of how, why, and where students can undertake valuable scholarly research.  

In two recent study abroad courses, ‘Paris: Modernism and the Arts, Then and Now’ and the London-based ‘Fan Pilgrimages and Media Tourism,’ research librarian Bill Gillis was invited to partner with faculty to enhance the academic experience and aid in developing creative and comprehensive research.  Gillis traveled with the classes and provided guidance on student research through formal research salons, or guided seminars, as well as through more casual discussions about research, which served as ‘immediate debriefs’ following site visits, performances, or lectures.  At the end of each course, students wrote papers based on research questions that they developed during their time abroad.  As the embedded research librarian for these courses, Gillis continued to be available via email, Skype, and chat as students completed their final papers.

While many students have completed study abroad programs, including an embedded research librarian in the courses adds a new layer.  Most students surveyed had incredibly positive reactions to the added component, most notably in relation to the depth of their research.  As one student commented, “Bill Gillis challenged me to ask odd-angled questions as the first step in my research, and delve deeper into the ‘why’ and ‘what if’ than the mere ‘how.’”  Other students emphasized about Bill Gillis’s ability to facilitate a better understanding of research, specifically of sources. He described sources as guests to a party, and the importance of only inviting the ones who have something to contribute.  These sources can also lead students into a different research direction. One student noted, “A great tip from Bill was that sometimes you can just take a moment and accept that your focus shifts in the research process. It’s okay to change what you were initially looking for because research is supposed to inspire.”

The addition of embedded librarians in study abroad courses not only enhances the research component of the programs, but could also change the way students and library patrons view research librarians.  In the post-program survey, one student noted, “Librarians are known for being aloof and, in my experience, that stigma tends to discourage kids from asking questions and therefore stunts the success of their research. So, if we are comfortable with and confide in our research librarian, I believe we are more likely to seek him or her out. I know that I frantically asked Bill for some quick advice about my paper, and he quickly responded back to me with a very detailed and informative email that addressed everything I asked and more.”  Another student said, “I’d like to express my gratitude for the experience, because now when I need direction in my next research project, I know I can consult a research librarian at GW for assistance. That is priceless. Thank you.”

With the success of these study abroad courses, there are now plans to apply this model to courses on the Foggy Bottom campus, as well. Dr. Katherine Larsen, Adjunct Assistant Professor in GW’s University Writing Program, and Bill Gillis are in the process of developing a course on fan tourism.  According to Larsen and Gillis, “Using what we learn in London, our experiences with study abroad will inform the development of a class to be taught locally that draws on the rich cultural history of sites within the District of Columbia. We envision such a course focusing on the multiple ways in which we construct meaning around the ‘sacred spaces’ of political/historical/pop culture significance.”


Words and Sounds of Dissent: from Samizdat to Rebel Rock
Words and Sounds of Dissent: from Samizdat to Rebel Rock exhibit on the 7th floor of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library

Mark Yoffe, Curator of the International Counterculture Archive at the GW Libraries’ Global Resources Center, was recently interviewed by several news outlets regarding the Russian Counterculture movement and the GW Libraries’ Samizdat collection, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, the Voice of America Russian service, and the Washington Post.

The GW Libraries’ Samizdat collection, collected and donated by Peter Reddaway, professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at GW, is the largest known privately assembled collection of samizdat in the custody of a public institution outside of Russia. Samizdat is dissident material, typically self-published, that covered a wide range of topics and was often distributed for free, spreading through a variety of channels, including informal groups of friends, underground bohemian associations, clandestine political circles, and movements that published their own samizdat magazines and journals. Soviet samizdat began in the late 1940s and extended through the late 1980s, when Perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev's program of Glasnost (“openness”) made samizdat production unnecessary. Within the Soviet Union, samizdat eventually became a broad avenue of expression for those without an official voice.

Peter Reddaway was one of the first Western observers and scholars to note the critical role of samizdat in the political and social life of the Soviet Union. He and a few others collected and transferred selected samizdat originals to various outlets, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the broadcasting organization established in the late 1940s to transmit uncensored news into the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. Professor Reddaway also became one of the first to contribute substantively to publishing samizdat materials in the media, magazines, and books in the West. His books include Uncensored Russia (NY: American Heritage Press, 1972), a volume of samizdat materials compiled, edited, and translated by him.

Reddaway believes that although the situations are politically different, there “are beginning to be some similarities” between how dissidents are treated in Russia now and how they were treated in the Soviet Union from the 1960s to the 1980s. He noted that the number of political prisoners is rising as a result of “speaking out publicly, openly.” “If you are a dissident,” Reddaway said, “then you are treated in increasingly similar ways,” including being fired, having to choose between prison and emigration, and being placed in a psychiatric hospital.

Samizdat: Dissent in the USSR, an exhibit highlighting the collection of Soviet-era underground publishing is available for viewing on the 7th floor of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library. In an adjoining space, the Library also recently opened the exhibit, Words and Sounds of Dissent: from Samizdat to Rebel Rock, curated by Mark Yoffe. These exhibits are open to the public Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Wednesday from 10 am to 8 pm. For more information, please visit our website.