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Thanks and Recognition: Marianne Afifi

eNews Edition: Fall 2013

On the long list of responsibilities that fall under the purview of the Oviatt Library’s Associate Dean Marianne Afifi are things like day-to-day operations, emergency planning, departmental oversight, strategic planning, and development. In the quickly evolving environment of today’s academic library, any one of these might be enough for a full-time position; but for the associate dean, aspects of each of these diverse areas are all in a day’s work. “Given my multiple responsibilities, it is not always easy to know what people enjoy now or will like in the future,” says Afifi. “What I find most challenging is to stay current and informed about which spaces and services serve our constituencies best, so that they have a good experience when they come to the Oviatt Library for any reason. I am always on the lookout for the best means to engage with our students, faculty and staff so that the Oviatt Library stays relevant for them.” The soon-to-be-completed Learning Commons is certainly an example of the associate dean’s vision toward the future.   

Picture of Marianne Afifi

According to Library Dean Mark Stover, the associate dean was the primary liaison between the Library and Facilities Planning from start to finish on the multifaceted renovation project. Her ongoing oversight of all aspects of the process required her to work very closely with the outside contractors, including three different construction crews that were working 24 hours around the clock to finish all of the work in a very short period of time. Although the associate dean is the first person to make sure that proper credit is given to the huge number of individuals from both on and off campus who were necessary to complete the renovation safely and on time, much of the recognition is rightfully hers. “Marianne was often here for early morning meetings and sometimes stayed late into the night to ensure that the work was getting done properly and in a timely fashion,” says Dean Stover. “Marianne did an excellent job in assisting me in making difficult decisions over the course of the construction, and in consulting with other members of the Library's leadership team to find consensus.” In addition, she also kept the entire Library staff informed with timely updates and regular status reports.

As associate dean, Afifi also assists the dean in fundraising concerns. Her wide network of colleagues, both on campus and off, has helped the Library resolve an assortment of issues. The dean is quick to add that Marianne Afifi’s care and stewardship regarding CSUN extends far beyond mortar, brick, and the day-to-day operations of the Library. “Marianne has shown her care and concern for students through an annual scholarship that is awarded to a deserving Library student employee, and she also makes regular gifts to the Friends of the Library, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), and other Library initiatives,” the dean says.  “Finally, let me add that Marianne has fully funded a Library endowment that will, in perpetuity, provide annual funding for books, journals, and other media related to the study and teaching of music.” 

When asked what aspect of her job she finds most rewarding, she says: “Seeing the CSUN community, be it students, faculty or staff, enjoying our environment and services. I have received many positive comments over the years about what influence the Oviatt Library has had in our Library users’ lives and that is very satisfying. Any time I or a colleague can help students get the information they need, use our space to do so, and succeed, we are rewarded with the knowledge that we have provided the tools to help them move forward in life.

Marianne Afifi and Scholarship Winner Paria Soroushi
Marianne Afifi and Scholarship Winner
Paria Soroushi

In the relatively little time she spends away from the Library, the associate dean enjoys reading, both in print and on electronic devices. She confesses to always having a real or virtual stack of books at the ready. “I like to cook, which relaxes me and provides others with enjoyment, and I collect cookbooks,” she says. “My goal is to cook at least one recipe out of each cookbook I own.” She also likes to travel to learn more about the world and other cultures. Afifi also admits to being a “techie” at heart and shares that she enjoys learning about new technologies, both for personal and professional use.

Before beginning her tenure here at CSUN, Marianne Afifi served as the Director of Electronic Resources & Special Projects Development in the Information Services Division of the University of Southern California. There she managed electronic information resources access, delivery and development, and was an active participant in digital library and systems projects as well as online learning development. Her publications and presentations reflect her involvement in the library and information science community locally, nationally, and internationally. She served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, and is a member of the American Library Association as well as the Association for Computing Machinery. She holds an M.B.A. from USC and an M.L.S. in Information Systems Design from UCLA. As long as she chooses to remain at CSUN, the Oviatt will be unendingly grateful and count itself as unimaginably lucky to have found in Marianne Afifi an associate dean of grace, insight, and generosity -- and one who looks equally good in any number of hats.