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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Northridge

CSUN Celebrates Library's Reopening

September 27, 2000|ZANTO PEABODY

About 300 guests and well-wishers attended a reopening ceremony Tuesday for the Delmar T. Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge, which underwent extensive renovation after the 1994 earthquake.

The library, damaged so severely in the quake that school administrators had considered razing it, underwent a $22-million reconstruction that remains true to the original architecture but includes new computer wiring and a new bookstore.

"Libraries symbolize knowledge," CSUN President Jolene Koester said before a ribbon-cutting ceremony. "This library symbolizes the knowledge of our school and of the Valley. This reopening signifies the health and strength of Cal State Northridge coming back after such a disaster."

The earthquake shook apart walls in the center section of the library and caused more extensive damage to its 50,000-square-foot east and west wings. A large portion of the $35-million collection of 1.2 million books and archives lay in piles, waterlogged and tainted with asbestos, said Sue Curzon, dean of the library.

"I feel it's a great gift for all of us who were here during the most serious time, the dramatic time for the school," said Curzon, who along with 10 staffers retrieved CSUN's prized special collection from the rubble. "It was a struggle worth making. After so much work, this is a good day."

The special collection, which holds rare editions such as a 1914 atlas of the city, is housed in a new section of the library.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan told the audience in the library's new courtyard that CSUN had lived up to assurances made in the wake of the earthquake.

"I remember being at CSUN right after the earthquake, which was the greatest natural disaster in the history of our country," he said. "There were big signs saying, 'We're coming back and going to be better.' "

Other speakers described the Oviatt Library as the "intellectual center" and "main research facility" of the Valley.

Riordan said the library, like all libraries, is a place to read and dream.

Koester said four other buildings, paid for with $50 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, are expected to be completed by 2002.

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