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Ground Broken for $11-Million College Library

It started out in a tiny classroom in San Fernando, then moved to a bank, then to a five-and-dime store, and finally to the basement of the student center at Los Angeles Mission College’s new Sylmar campus.

Now, for the first time ever, the school’s library will have a building of its own.

“I’ve never worked in a library that was meant to be a library,” said Rayma Greenberg, head librarian for the college. “This is so exciting.”

On Thursday, Greenberg joined fellow faculty members, administrators and community leaders to break ground for the college’s $11-million library and learning resources center at the campus on Eldridge Avenue.

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The ceremony also marked the beginning of the college’s 20th anniversary celebration, a reminder to many of how much the college has changed since it began holding classes in scattered storefronts in San Fernando in February, 1975.

Marco Torres, a field representative for Councilman Richard Alarcon, pointed out that the center will add 400 new computers for students, giving them access to the information superhighway.

“It wasn’t that long ago I was a student taking courses at Mission College near meat markets in San Fernando,” said Torres, who attended the school from 1988 to 1990, before the Sylmar campus opened in 1991. “Now there’s going to be an off-ramp on the superhighway that says ‘Eldridge.’ ”

Participants celebrated the event by digging into the soft earth with 13 golden shovels, breaking ground for the new, three-level facility in the heart of the campus.

In addition to a library, the 57,000-square-foot building will include computer, tutoring and teleconferencing centers, as well as an audiovisual studio.

Funded by a state bond measure approved by voters in 1992, the facility will also house a fully automated library about three times larger than the current makeshift library and contain about 20% more books.

And even though the facility is not expected to open until 1997, students on campus Thursday said they are glad it is getting under way now for future students.

“Sometimes when the material we need isn’t at the library we have to go out of our way to get it for our papers,” said Monica Escobar, 21, a second-year student from Sylmar.

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But college President Jack Fujimoto sees the new center providing a helping hand for an older generation of learners, as well.

“I’d like to see senior citizens in the area get involved with the computers,” Fujimoto said.


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