The College of Central Florida’s Citrus campus received some much-needed renovations this past summer. Specifically, the Learning Resource Center and the Learning Support Center were completely renovated from the ground up.
These renovations began at the end of the spring semester in mid-May, took place all summer, and finished a few weeks before the start of the fall semester in early August. These are the first complete renovations in any of the original buildings on the Citrus campus since 1996 (excluding any smaller-scaled remodels, repairs, replacements or minor additional upgrades).
But for Edith Ramlow, manager of the learning resource center on the Citrus campus, the summer of renovation could not end soon enough.
“I couldn’t wait until the fall semester,” Ramlow said. “So that the returning students who weren’t here during the summer could [finally] come in and see the library.”
Ramlow had a large role in helping to decide how the new LRC would look.
“The front desk is closer to the front door,” Ramlow said. “And that is one of the things I wanted. I wanted to be able to open both sets of doors. Now [staff have] a desk that is closer to each side [of the library], rather than a big long desk that acts more like a barrier.
“It is much more welcoming,” Ramlow continued. “And we’re more capable of making that eye contact as [students] are coming or going. I want this to be a place that you can come to study and relax, recharge your devices, plug in your laptop as you are working, and spread out if need be.”
According to Ramlow, the newly installed study pods appear to be the biggest hit so far. These pods provide outlets where students can plug in their devices, as well as a foot stool for resting their feet. Numbering twenty in total, these new pods provide a sense of privacy—one pod per student—while being more economical with space.
“I feel we really increased people-space,” Ramlow said. “We wanted to cater to how students used [that] space. We think we did that.”
Cari Diaz, a skills lab specialist on the Citrus campus, echoes Ramlow’s sentiments on the importance of increasing people-space.
“Our student body has changed, and we needed the space,” Diaz said.
The LSC was originally housed entirely in Room 204 in Building C-2. Now, after knocking down the adjacent wall and absorbing the neighboring computer lab in Room 203, the new LSC, according to Diaz, is much bigger, and, by design, much more accommodating to students.
“I think the space is more inviting [now],” Diaz said. “Some students need a quiet space, and we couldn’t offer that before. Now we can work with students and feel comfortable doing that, where before we were kind of on top of each other.”
Diaz hopes to see the LSC’s newest addition, three enclosed study labs, making an impact with students and faculty.
“This was Rob Wolf’s brainchild,” Diaz said of the study labs. “And the reason for these three rooms is to attract adjuncts or full-time instructors to come in and use these rooms during their office hours, bring in their students and work one-on-one.”
Robert Wolf is dean of business, technology and workforce at CF.
Director of Facilities Tommy Morelock responded by email on how such a massive renovation gets off the ground.
“This project was requested by the LRC manager, and the Citrus campus administration,” Morelock said. “After the request, plant operations staff made a site visit with Mrs. Ramlow and Dr. Wolf to start the project planning and budgeting process.”
According to Morelock, the total project cost, including furniture and equipment, was $420,000.
Mark Sakowski, manager of facility operations at CF, presided over the project’s preparation and completion from the start of renovation in mid-May, to its conclusion in early August.
Finally, after three months of waiting patiently, Ramlow got her chance to witness the reaction from returning students as they walked into the newly renovated library for the first time.
“They would open up the door,” Ramlow said. “And they’d stop, look around, and they’d have [this] look on their faces of, ‘Something has changed.’ And then they would take a few more steps in, and they’d go, ‘Wow, there’s been changes.’”
And changes bring new opportunities.
Story and photos by: James Blevins