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I know I shouldn’t be too hard on you for the intentional misinformation and polemics in your recent article about GW’s Gelman Library (“GW Closes the Books,” 6/6), but frankly they reveal such an obvious bias, I can’t resist.
Paul Belden wrote, “Unless you are a student or teacher at GW, don’t expect to sample the [Snyder-Fennelly] collection,” despite the fact that three of us patiently (and slowly) explained that all special collections, including Snyder-Fennelly, will continue to be available to any researcher, just as they have in the past. Now people will just have to record their name at the front door.
Francine Henderson, head of Special Collections, denies saying she thinks the new policy will make some people feel unwelcome.
You quote a “library connoisseur” (whatever that is) as saying that “GW has no strengths.” Serious researchers, as opposed to your “free-lance researcher” (whatever that is), doing work in such areas as Judaica, Washingtoniana, international affairs, and business would strongly disagree because they know that GW’s collections are very strong in these areas and that real researchers increasingly rely on electronic access to collections located around the world, a service that GW provides as well as, if not better than, any other university in the area.
As we told you several times, most of the people who will be kept out of Gelman now will be commuters from Maryland and Virginia who work at companies and agencies in the District. Many of them will have access to other libraries but choose ours because our library is near their jobs. The library will still be open to D.C. citizens in the neighborhood. Members of the Foggy Bottom Association, the West End Association, the School Without Walls, and other non-GW groups will continue to have free access to Gelman, as they have for years, a fact you conveniently omitted in order to bolster your anti-GW bias. Any citizen wishing to use our government documents material will also have free access.
Finally, you haven’t quite yet sunk to the level of the Star or the San Jose Mercury News, but don’t worry, you’re getting there.
George Washington University