Collaboration & Coffee: Cal State L.A. library adapts to a new generation of students

A more collaborative first floor | Pamela Avila

A more collaborative first floor | Pamela Avila


EL SERENO — The main library at Cal State L.A., which was built around books and individual study, is undergoing changes to make it more welcoming and relevant to a new generation of students.

The first floor of the John F. Kennedy Library now features sleek tables and couches that are easy to move around as needed. Excess computers were moved out to create more space and a collaborative environment. The opening of Cafe 47, named after the year the college opened, allows students to grab some brain food without having to leave the library.

More changes are coming, says Carlos Rodriguez, the newly appointed Dean of the University Library. The ultimate goal is to get students to stay longer and interact more with each other while taking advantage of library resources, which includes more than 1 million volumes.

“In the past, libraries were a homogenous environment –a place where, for the most part, it was very quiet with a lot of restrictions as far as what you could and couldn’t do,” Rodriguez said. “The goal here is to provide a variety of different environments for the campus community.”


The Cal State L.A., which is composed of two buildings connected by a bridge, can accommodate up to 2,000 students. Rodriguez said the university wanted the first floor of the four-story library to serve as a “gateway to information and resources, a place to get support, and a place to highlight and promote what’s happening around campus.”

Third year public health major Saida Coreas, 20, said the first floor feels more “welcoming, spacious, and less [cramped],” inviting students to prolong their stay to either study or relax.

Fourth year science major Adrian DeLeon, 25, who uses the library primarily for printing out materials and group study, said he has seen more interaction among students since the remodel. It is “more of a laid back atmosphere,” he said.

However, fourth year sociology major Leslie Carrera, 23, isn’t a fan of the changes. “It overall feels smaller in the sense of workspace,” Carrera said. To her, the atmosphere doesn’t feel any different but rather seems more like a place “where you would work on your own rather than with a group.”

The remodeling of the first-floor, which was budgeted for $1 million, is nearly complete. But there will be more work done between the fall and spring semesters to minimize disturbances to students. There will also be additional changes made to other floors of the library.

The recent work is “the first step to really transform the library into a more welcoming, inviting, and active learning environment,” Rodriguez said.


John F. Kennedy Library | Pamela Avila

Pamela Avila is a Los Angeles-based journalist, with a B.A. in English Literature from UC Santa Cruz. You can read more of her published work here.

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