The library at the Women and Gender Studies office features over 2,000 books on subjects including gender, labor, violence and sexual assault.Photo by Gregory Connolly

After a long summer of organization, George Mason University’s Women and Gender Studies office library is the best it has ever been.

The library boasts over 2,000 books on various subjects including “gender and labor, gender and violence, sexual assault, history of women, money and women, LGBTQ, sexuality,” according to Christine Hernandez, program coordinator for Women and Gender Studies.

“We have fiction [books], a lot on gender and race, a lot on Asian American, [and books on] Native American heritage and Latino heritage,” said Hernandez.

Using the Library of Congress Classification System, two student assistants at the office, Maryam Sodeifi and Mabinty Quarshie, worked on the library over the summer of 2010.

“We put in at least 10 hours a week for 10 to 12 weeks,” said Sodeifi, senior sociology major with a women and gender studies minor. “There were easily 250 hours put into this project to get it off the ground, and it’s a continuing project.”

“There are books in women’s studies classes that come up over and over,” said Quarshie, a sophomore English major with a women and gender studies minor. “ We have most of the classics.”

The library is open to students and faculty, who may check out books for up to three weeks.

“I think student response has been good,” Quarshie said. “In a lot of my classes, people come in and look for books.”

Hernandez helped a student who was looking for sources on gendered violence for a paper.

“Once she found one of the books she wanted, there was a whole row of books on her topic,” Hernandez said. “It’s very easy to work our checkout system. It’s been really positive with people coming in and out. One goal we’ve had is that we hold books for classes that are offered. If students can’t buy the book, they can come in, sit here and read it. Not everybody can afford textbooks right now.”

“The women and gender studies field is kind of specific, so a lot of times at libraries, books we need aren’t available,” Sodeifi said. “We have a lot of books in our library that the [Johnson Center] and Fenwick [Library] don’t have, so that’s been helpful for very specific research.”

Books are frequently donated to the library, sometimes a few at a time while other times they receive entire boxes full, Hernandez said.

“When I started working here, there were a few bookshelves,” Hernandez said. “They were books people had donated, faculty had donated and people connected with the center had donated.”

In addition, Hernandez said the Women and Gender Studies Office has started a partnership with the Women’s Center at the Northern Virginia Community College.

“They were getting their women’s center started, and we had a lot of duplicate books of classics, so we donated some books to them and talked to them about setting up a library resource there, so we partnered up with them,” Hernandez said.