The Library That Could Be

Over the last few years, University Library Dean Juan Carlos Rodriguez has been working on a plan to upgrade sections of the library.

JFK Memorial Library exterior facing West. Rendering courtesy of Carlos Rodriguez, Dean of the Library

Marissa Chavez, Digital Editor

Cal State LA’s Library has not been renovated since it was built in the late 1950s, including both the North and South Wings.

Upon his arrival in 2016, library dean Juan Carlos Rodriguez began working with Facilities Planning to develop a library project that would better serve the university community.

After working with various university administrators, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), staff and library faculty, the JFK Memorial Library Master Plan was finally completed in January 2019.

“I began working with Facilities Planning to begin the process of developing a master plan for the library that would serve as the planning document for a complete building renovation,” said Rodriguez.

The university’s library is an estimated 320,000 square feet, which means that construction will be a substantial project. The cost to renovate both Library North and Library South (Palmer Wing) will be over $1 million dollars.

“The library renovation project is included as one of various capital projects that are submitted by the campus annually to the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office for inclusion as a building renovation project that would funded by the State of California,” Rodriguez told the University Times.

Rodriguez is currently working with the University Advancement to raise money for the renovation. The Master Plan is 106 pages long and is scheduled to be completed over the course of several years in non-sequential phases.

“I think it’s a good idea to re-do the library,” said biology student Cassie A. Wilson. “It’s already pretty large but the amenities and insides could definitely be updated.”

While majority of the students, staff and faculty were in favor of the library’s Master Plan, there were some students who felt the school was ‘changing and not in a good way.’

“It all goes back to the money,” said fourth-year student Vivian Martinez. “We’re getting new parking, new dorms, and now a new library. It’s not a bad idea, it’s just not what our school needs right now.”

Rodriguez said the inspiration for the library’s renovation came from the lack of quality seating available to the students. He ensures that inside the Master Plan, the amount of seating will be doubled and will include new study spaces that will be placed near windows to provide natural light.

“These study spaces will provide a variety of environments that include individual private spaces, individual public spaces, collaborative private spaces and collaborative public spaces,” said Rodriguez.

“These spaces will also include many more electrical outlets, would enhance technology and add a variety of furniture styles,” he said.

In addition to these renovations, a new Center for Academic Success is in the works. This will be located on the first floor of the Palmer Wing and will build off of other existing services within the university, similar to the writing and tutorial centers.

To view the JFK Memorial Library Master Plan, visit