By Luis D. Marquez
Students have had access to the Helen Miller Bailey Library since the semester began. East Los Angeles College held a rededication ceremony last Thursday.
The ceremony brought current and former campus and district leaders, Bailey family members, students and community members to celebrate the contributions of Helen Miller Bailey to the community of ELAC. Students now have access to a state-of-the-art facility where they can learn.
The audience heard ELAC interim-President Farley Herzek, Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Daniel J. LaVista, LACCD Board of Trustee Scott Svonkin, and an appearance by former president Ernest H. Moreno during the ceremony.
Herzek stressed that libraries positively affect a community. “Libraries are like fueling station for the minds, and the greatest aspects of a library is that you can fill your mind for free,” he said.
LaVista then spoke of the importance of libraries in education. “Libraries are a place for solitude and reflection. In these times, the opening of a library should be celebrated,” LaVista said.
He believes that libraries help young people and teaches them leadership. Svonkin added the importance of libraries as he said that ELAC students deserve to have an “incredible” library as those at UCLA, Harvard and Yale. Now that ELAC has one, he hopes students will use it to its fullest.
Svonkin stressed the importance of Proposition 30, so that there could be more funding for schools as ELAC and projects as the renovation of the Helen Miller Library. “This is for you. Tax dollars at work, the right way,” he said.
LaVista also spoke about Bailey contribution to this community.
“Helen Miller Bailey was a renaissance woman, a person who strongly believed in philanthropy and generosity,” LaVista said. He also said it pleased him to honor the memory of Dr. Bailey and see her legacy extend though the opening of the expanded and modernized library.
One of Bailey’s former students who spoke, Rita Soza, has been working on Bailey’s biography for seven years and is close to finishing. The book’s profits will be donated to the Helen Miller Bailey scholarship.
Herzek then invited Moreno up on the steps of the library. Svonkin and LaVista thanked him for being one of the people in charge of renovating the library. Moreno was shocked at the fact hat he was called up. Moreno said he attended the ceremony “to see the project finished.”
Frank Cruz, a former student who is the founder of Telemundo, spoke in admiration of Bailey and he viewed her as a mentor.
Herzek along with LaVista did the honors and officially opened the library.
At the time to cut the ribbon, the large wooden scissors were unable to tear the ribbon, so they used regular-sized scissors to cut the ribbon. There was another ribbon for the library staff to cut.
The new library now occupies a total of 56,241 square feet. It features 240 computers, 10 express workstations for fast and easy printing. They have 23 study rooms and numerous tables in each floor to meet students’ study needs. They also have two classrooms for orientation or workshops. The library has electronic book checkout, and it houses 100,000 books and DVD’s.
Instruction Librarian Erika Montenegro said, “If you hear a beeping sound when you are leaving the library, you have to come back and check-out the book.” The 100,000 books and DVDs need to be checked out.
The library also includes a Sheriff’s substation.
The library first completed in 1980 and served the students of ELAC for 29 years before closing August 2009 for renovations.