Originally from Orange County, Sarah began to work at the Oviatt Library in November 2012 after completing her Bachelor of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. While pursuing her degree, Sarah worked as a Learning Commons Assistant in Cal Poly’s Robert E. Kennedy Library, as well as a Computer Lab Assistant and in the Architecture Department. Her experiences in the library eventually helped Sarah to select library design as the basis for her senior thesis project.
Because she was hired as a student assistant at the Kennedy Library the same summer that they began constructing their Learning Commons, Sarah thought that her experience and her education would make her an ideal match for CSUN as the Oviatt began to make plans for a Learning Commons of its own. “The Learning Commons Support Assistant position here at CSUN seemed like a very natural transition for me after graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo,” Sarah says. “This position was especially appealing to me because I felt that my background would be uniquely relevant during the Oviatt’s Learning Commons’ renovation.” Sarah says that similar to Oviatt’s renovation the Kennedy Library also introduced collaborative work spaces, more computer labs, and a full-service café. She says, “I was able to witness firsthand how the renovation’s new technologies dramatically improved the students’ learning environment.”
When asked about the work of being involved in the creation of a Learning Commons from the ground up, Sarah confesses that the most challenging aspect has simply been that many phases of the renovation project share the same deadline, whether it’s the first day of school or the Grand Opening event. “My multi-tasking and organizational abilities have definitely been put to the test,” she says, “but I feel lucky that the scope of my position is constantly evolving as the Learning Commons develops.” Sarah has especially enjoyed the occasions when she has been able to contribute her design sensibilities during the renovation process.
When talking about the ways in which the new learning environment will benefit students, Sarah cites the addition of new technologies such as screen-sharing monitors, iPads for checkout, Mac computers, digital wayfinding, and online reservations for individual and group study rooms. “The Commons model also attempts to accommodate all types of learning styles,” she adds, “particularly with the addition of comfortable lounge furniture and more collaborative workspaces.” There is also no longer a shortage of access to power outlets, according to Sarah, a feature that was regularly requested by students before the remodel.
After the many hours of dedicated work that was required by Sarah and so many others to get the Learning Commons open, in addition to the ongoing necessity of ensuring that the abundance of new technology stays up and running smoothly, the rewards have apparently been well worth all of the effort. According to Sarah, the positive reactions of students as they enter the space for the first time have been incredibly affirming. “The main floor has been at near to full capacity since its debut,” she concludes, “a testament that the Learning Commons is a space where students truly want to be.”
Away from the Commons, Sarah shares that she has a passion for travel that was ignited by a year spent studying abroad in Paris. “While I wait for my next overseas visit, I try to placate the wanderlust bug with hiking and camping trips” she says. Her future plans include a Masters in Library and Information Science, and somewhere down the line her ideal career will involve both architecture and library science, possibly as a librarian with a subject specialty in art and architecture, or as a library design consultant.