The Voluntary Library Gift

Enhancing Your Library Environment

Updated on February 13, 2018

Reupholstered club chairs

(Logan Werlinger/the George Washington University)

“Making sure our students are successful is our number one priority,” said Geneva Henry, dean of Libraries and Academic Innovation, at the opening of the new STEMworks (read Hacking the Future) space in September. “We are here, no questions asked, no judgments whatsoever, to support GW students and faculty and we’re committed to doing what it takes.”


Students learn to write like a scribe at a history event

Students learn to write like a scribe at a hands-on history event co-organized with Professor Jeffrey Cohen from the GW English Department. (Logan Werlinger/the George Washington University)

Doing what it takes can mean different things for different students. For some, it’s providing a safe space and comfortable chair in which to study 24-hours a day. For others, it’s access to specialized software and technology to complete their research or passion project. To meet these and many other needs, the libraries depend on the voluntary library gift, a $50 student donation each semester.

Although there will be some changes to the voluntary library gift beginning in Fall 2018, made in response to student feedback, there will remain an opportunity to “opt-in” to philanthropically support the services and spaces of GW Libraries and Academic Innovation on each semester’s tuition bill. While some students are aware of the voluntary library gift, many never consider that their gifts may be responsible for purchasing their favorite study chair, paying the student staff who keep the building open for their overnight study sessions, or funding the panel discussions they attended. The voluntary library gift program began in 1988 and was created to demonstrate student support for the libraries.


GWLAI staff demonstrate 3-D printing

Students learn more about our Middle East and North Africa collections in the Global Resources Center. (Photo by Cathy Zeljak)

The voluntary library gift is an essential part of GW Libraries’ funding, and the university is committed to using it to support programs that directly impact students and help them to thrive at GW and beyond. A portion of this year’s gift supports the Top Textbooks program, which makes freely available the required textbooks for a select group of undergraduate courses with high enrollment and expensive texts. This initiative to combat the escalating price of course materials began as a proposal by Student Association President Peak Sen Chua and was made possible by the voluntary library gift.


Student employees answer questions at the Ask Us Desk

Student workers are the lifeblood of GWLAI, and gain practical experience in technology, research, and customer service. (Logan Werlinger/the George Washington University)

Students are not only some of our most important patrons, but also some of our most important donors. Just as the libraries strive to be the “bedrock of scholarship and learning at GW,” the voluntary library gift underpins all aspects of Libraries and Academic Innovation. Student philanthropy is our bedrock and we appreciate everyone who supports the GW Libraries through the voluntary library gift.