If you’ve walked into Point Loma Nazarene University’s Ryan Library in the past few weeks you’ve probably noticed a lot of changes on the first floor. No more outdated, heavy couches and tables, uncomfortable chairs, or dim lighting. Now, students are invited by new carpet, a fresh paint job, softer lighting, bright furniture of orange and green hues and much more. But why did these renovations occur in the first place?
Kerry Fulcher, PLNU’s academic provost, had a long-term vision of creating the Student Learning Commons: a place where students could find all of the study resources they may need. During August of 2021, this plan was put in the works by a group of faculty members from respective academic departments. Planning and design meetings were formulated, a grant proposal was written and approved, and construction began May of 2021 and completed this past August.
April Cordero, PLNU’s dean of educational effectiveness, said that The Fletcher Jones Foundation provided a grant of $600,000 for the project. The Fletcher Jones Foundation is an organization that aids private universities in California with any charitable, scientific, literary and educational needs. After a write up of PLNU’s plans, the grant was approved and went towards the creation of two developmental spaces: a new faculty hub located on the bottom floor of Bond Academic Center and the learning commons on the first floor of the Library.
This learning commons is a convenient new hub for student support through the new partnerships of Research Help, the Writing Center, and Tutorial Services.
“We are now meeting contiguous needs in contiguous spaces,” said Denise Nelson, the Director of the Ryan Library. “The heart of the reconfiguration was to make those services have long term availability for students in a space where they are already studying and in a building that has extended hours.”
The Writing Center, located in the back left corner on the first floor, will be in full swing Fall of 2023. It will include a new writing program structured by appointments or for a quick stop by, ready to aid students through any part of the writing process.
“Writing is social,” the Director of the Writing Center, Holland Prior, said. “The Writing Center is a place where people can engage in that social nature of writing. Everyone, no matter their experience, background, or education, can benefit from other people looking at their writing. So we’re going to be that space for everyone!”
In another corner of the Library, specifically the back right, Tutorial Services has a new location which offers additional collaborative assistance for students. Tutorial Services is managed by Nillie Graf who oversees one-on-one and small group tutoring with PLNU student tutors alongside academic coaching and review sessions. Appointments can be made on the Tutorial Services’ website.
This once-stale and somber first floor of the Ryan Library is now quickly filling with spaces that encourage students to work and talk with one another.
“Once everything is up and running it will almost feel like there is a quiet buzz everywhere, somewhat like going to work at a coffee shop, where there’s a sort of soft noise of collaborative conversation. That’s the intent, for it to be a vibrant and energetic space for everyone to come into and learn,” Cordero said.
The planning of these spaces entailed intentional choices of furniture, lighting and colors to optimize supporting students.
“Being able to move toward smaller tables that could be pulled together or apart if necessary was one of the things that was important to us because it meant that we could use the space a little more efficiently,” Nelson said.
“There are couches, chairs, side tables, and mobile furniture that can be dragged around easily,” Cordero said. “We specifically chose furniture that could be pulled together or pulled apart for larger groups or smaller groups.”
Jaden Goldfain, a fourth year Literature and Philosophy major and student director of the current Writer’s Studio, says she really enjoys the renovations.
“The first floor feels more modern and academic compared to the old layout, which contributes well to the vibes of the Studio. I appreciate the movable whiteboards most especially– those are going to be really helpful,” said Goldfain.
Whether students are in large or small groups, studying alone, looking for a team of writers to edit their paper, or in need of a one on one lesson, the Library and its new partnerships are ready to assist.
“An investment in the Library is an investment in every student,” said Nelson. “I can’t imagine money being better spent. It’s not an investment in a place, it’s an investment in the students and that should always be the university’s higher priority.”
Tutorial Services operates Monday through Thursday 11 a.m to 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and online after hours for students who need more flexibility. The official Writing Center will not be open until next fall, but their current Writing Studio is available to students by appointments. The Library is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Written By: Claire Downey