El Camino College Compton Center opens library after seven year delay

The first floor of the new library at El Camino College Compton Center | Mona Khalifeh

The first floor of the new library at El Camino College Compton Center | Mona Khalifeh

Cutting a crimson ribbon often heralds a new building. For El Camino College Compton Center, it also represents a new beginning.

Visible from Artesia Boulevard, the two-story Library-Student Success Center that opened in March towers over the comparatively flat classroom buildings. A grand opening on Tuesday featured building tours and speeches by officials and community members to celebrate the addition. The glass building has already become the college’s focal point.

The building is spacious and high-tech with chrome embellishments and a clean white interior that matches the futuristic gleaming glass. Some parts of the building even boast floor-to-ceiling windows. The first floor serves as an art gallery and library, while the Student Success Center with four drop-in tutoring centers occupies the second floor along with a writing lab with 100 computers and conference rooms for supplemental programs open to students and faculty.

The opening is especially significant because the Library-Student Success Center has sat lifeless for years.

The building was slated to open in 2007, but building code violations kept it closed. The $25 million needed for upgrades finally came from 2002’s Measure CC general obligation bond and State Capital Outlay funding – but only after Compton’s four councilmembers lobbied full throttle for funds for the 44th Congressional District, which includes Compton.

Read more about the building code violations in the Los Angeles Times: Compton Community College library opens seven years later than planned

Now that it’s open, the building serves as a reminder to students of the school’s potential, said Keith Curry, Compton Center’s CEO.

El Camino College Compton Center board and CEO Keith Curry cutting the ribbon that officially opens the college's Library-Student Success Center | Mona Khalifeh

El Camino College Compton Center board and CEO Keith Curry cutting the ribbon that officially opens the college’s Library-Student Success Center | Mona Khalifeh

“Seeing it open provides [students] with hope that we will be able to provide quality education for our campus and our community,” he said.

The center provides a quiet place for students to study and for some, is the only place they can get work done. Business administration student Albino Celis says math was a weak subject when he began at Compton College, but now the center’s tutoring and supplemental instruction programs are helping to turn his grades around.

Now a tutor at the center, Celis urges incoming students to take advantage of the center’s extensive resources.

“The name says it — the Student Success Center is the place to go if students want to be successful,” he said, citing the center’s tutoring, supplemental instruction and library resources.

For faculty and staff, the center represents a positive change with the potential for bringing deep-rooted transformation for students.

Maria Estrada from First Year Experience, a program that helps first-year students transition to college, said the changes are turning Compton Center into a place students want to be.

“Part of the beautification that has been going on in the last couple of years has been creating a sense of pride for our students,” Estrada said.

The center has the backing of students, faculty and staff as well as the Compton community. Councilmembers, trustees, board members spoke at the opening, and Mayor Aja Brown stopped by to describe Compton Center as a symbol of hope and mobility for her family.

School officials said they hope the center can influence the whole community with its message of education’s importance – perhaps helped by the attractive glow radiating from its tall glass walls.

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