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Oviatt Spotlight: the Award-Winning Learning Commons

Contributed by Jim Lunsford

To gauge the overwhelming popularity of the Oviatt’s first floor Learning Commons almost two years after its completion and Grand Opening, one simply needs to walk through the Library’s front doors. On any given day during the semester, the open, bright, collaboration-friendly space is crowded and buzzing with a variety of activities. The bustling atmosphere speaks directly to the successful outcome of the renovation project’s stated goals. According to one of the Learning Commons Project team leaders, Interim Associate Dean Lynn Lampert, the aim was to focus on undergraduate and graduate student needs and to offer an increased number of services in a unified location.  

Learning Commons Ribbon Cutting, 2013
Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Grand Opening of the Oviatt Library Learning Commons, September 2013. (LR) Hilary Baker, Rick Evans, President Dianne Harrison, Library Dean Mark Stover, Provost Harry Hellenbrand

CSUN administrators were quick to recognize the success of the Library remodeling project. In 2014, the Library Transformation Team was awarded the Jolene Koester Team Award. According to the Staff Service Awards website, The Jolene Koester Team Award is presented to a team of staff members and/or administrators who collaborate on a project, process, or other significant initiative that brings about radical, positive change that improves performance or productivity and/or reduces costs or enhances the image of the University. Members of the award-winning Library Transformation Team included representatives from departments across campus, including: The Oviatt Library, Academic Affairs, Information Technology, the Learning Resource Center, Physical Plant Management, Planning Design & Construction, The University Corporation, and Undergraduate Studies. According to Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover, “What makes awards like the 2014 Jolene Koester Team Award, so gratifying is the recognition of just how much can be accomplished when people work together with a common purpose.”

The Learning Commons Project at CSUN caught the attention of the surrounding community as well. On Tuesday, February 24th, 2015, at a ceremony held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, The Oviatt Library’s Learning Commons was awarded the San Fernando Business Journal’s Real Estate Award for Higher Education for the "Best Public Project." The real estate awards were created to honor the most outstanding and most notable commercial real estate projects in the Valley.

Awards and honors are nice of course, and certainly they may be considered as a certain measure of accomplishment. In the end, however, it is really all about the students and their enthusiastic embracing of first floor’s welcoming and modern design has without question been the greatest reward. A 2014 Library Student Survey noted High usage of the first floor and 30% of respondents agreed that they used the Library more often. And in a recent internal communication Dean Stover took a moment to acknowledge the contributions of the entire Oviatt Library team. “Congratulations to you all for the ongoing and well-deserved acknowledgment of a major project that is so clearly reflective of exactly why we are here and just how much we are capable of achieving.”

For additional information about ongoing Library renovations, please visit The Transforming Library page on the Oviatt website. Also, click over to the What’s Up article in this issue of the Library eNews and read more about the expansion of the Oviatt’s Special Collection’s and Archives.