‘We’re building our future’

Ten years have gone into the planning and preparation of restoring the original building, which first opened in 1973. (Alyssa Hunter)

Melanie Roberts

The Library at Saddleback College is set to re-open this spring after undergoing renovations that started in 2010. Ten years have gone into the planning and preparation of restoring the original building, which first opened in 1973.

When construction started in spring 2010, the 100,000 square foot building was completely gutted to create a new learning resource center and library.

Ana Maria Cobos, library department chair, said the modern update was necessary to bring in current technology and better utilize the space.

“We [the Liberal Arts Department] were involved from the beginning stages,” Cobos said. “We were involved with reviewing the architect’s plans and discussing what works and what doesn’t.”

Cobos is looking forward to moving into the new building because everything will be finished. There will be no carpeting inside the building, making it easier to maintain.

The building has been re-envisioned as a reading and learning facility, said Kevin O’Connor, dean of liberal studies. It will be a 3-floor, multipurpose building with each sound-insulated floor having a clear function. Students will be able to find everything in one convenient location.

“The first floor will be entirely dedicated to instruction,” O’Connor said.

The goal was to expand the number of classrooms. It will be the new home of the journalism and English departments, photography, TV & Radio, and the Saddleback newspaper, the Lariat.

The second floor has been designated as the academic support center where students will be able to apply what they have learned in the classroom and pair up with other students, in study groups, to better understand the material. Student resources such as the language, reading, and writing labs will be relocated here, as well as the Learning Assistance Program.

On the third floor, students and staff will find the library with all its books and resources as well as the new division offices for the liberal arts department.

“It will be an area to study, write, and reflect,” O’Connor said. Students will have a quiet space to think about what they learned individually.

The second set of architects, gkk works, were able to create 4,000 square feet of new space in the building, simply by taking out the large concrete staircase that was in the building before. It will be replaced by an elegant stairway, making room for new spaces, like an exhibit space for temporary exhibits or artwork on the third floor and more areas for students to interact on the second floor, said O’Connor.

Students like Kelsey Walker, environmental engineering, 19, did not know much about the renovations having come into Saddleback while construction was already going on.

After discussing the new plan, Walker said, “I feel a quiet area [on the third floor] would be a nice place to study.”

“I would use the library more if it wasn’t in the villages,” Walker said. “It’s inconvenient to use it when it is down there.” Walker did not know where the new library location was until Summer 2011 when she needed to copy textbook pages for a class.

There is to be a dedication ceremony with the opening of the new learning resource center and library in the spring semester, but there is no set date, said O’Connor. 

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