Arnold T. Schwab Graduate Center Opens

June 6, 2016
The Arnold T. Schwab Graduate Center on the fifth floor of the University Library.

Photo by Kevin Tran – The Arnold T. Schwab Graduate Center on the fifth floor of the University Library.

When CSULB recently opened the Arnold T. Schwab Graduate Center thanks to a $1 million gift from the longtime member of the English Department, it completed a total remodel and reconfiguration of the fifth floor of the University Library.

Dr. Arnold T. Schwab retired from CSULB in 1980 after a 20-year career and passed on in 2014. Schwab, with an undergraduate degree from UCLA and his master’s and doctorate from Harvard, came to CSULB well prepared to teach and engage in research.

“Early on in his career here at CSULB, Arnold Schwab became a regular in the library. He relentlessly pursued exacting research using our collections and our librarians and staff unlike anyone else,” recalled Roman Kochan, dean and director of the University Library.

“As a result of the positive interactions with the library, the librarians, staff and especially our associate dean emeritus Henry DuBois, Arnold became a close friend of the library,” Kochan added. “He invested in two named endowments for the development of the library’s print collection and, in 2005, he approached us about something even grander. Arnold was interested in helping to create a space within the library that would promote collaborative study, a space equipped with various types of seating: group areas, lounge seating, private collaborative spaces, large tables for group projects, printers and scanners and many, many electrical and data outlets.”

“The Arnold T. Schwab Graduate Center is spectacular. Arnold would be thrilled to know what you have created with his gift,” said family member Barry Schwab.

The gift comes with impressive numbers. Kochan explained that the five-story University Library has 160,708 usable square feet with a total of 20.4 miles of shelving holding more than 1.1 million volumes. The remodel of the fifth floor, funded by Schwab’s gift, added 984 new power outlets and 150 USB ports. The library had seating for 1,470 students; the fifth floor has added 550 new seats for a grand total of 2,020 while still keeping the expansive feel of the space.

“We are one of 18 libraries in North America with a futuristic automated robotic compact storage system that, in the spirit of the beach theme, Henry DuBois named Online Remote Collections Access or ORCA,” Kochan said. “We are home to the papers from Gov. George Deukmejian’s two terms which in 2011 were transferred from the Hoover Institute in Stanford and are housed in the Deukmejian Archives in the lower level of the University Library. Only two governors have their papers housed outside of the state archives—Gov. Deukmejian at CSULB and Gov. Jerry Brown whose first-term papers are at USC.”

Kochan praised Schwab’s generosity.

“Arnold Schwab was a very fine faculty member of this university who valued the library as much as anyone who is involved in teaching and research,” he said. “One reason he made this gift, I think, was because of the relationship he had with this library. Our librarians worked hard to take good care of him and, over the years, we became good friends.”

Kochan feels the fifth-floor remodel confirms the University Library’s status as a 21st century facility.

“Our library has worked hard to stay current,” he said. “We do this in a 1970s-vintage building that we have upgraded as much as possible. This gift allowed us to re-do the fifth floor completely. We were open for just two days when students began using the large TV screens to engage in collaborative study and research. The fifth floor already was the most popular floor in the University Library for its open space and its view of Catalina Island to the south and the San Gabriel Foothills to the north. I have heard our students as they were getting to the elevators exclaim, ‘Have you seen the fifth floor? Did you see what they’ve done?’ The fifth floor has set a new standard for the rest of the building.

“Several years ago, we created a much more relaxed atmosphere for student study by doing away with the no-food, no-drinks policy which many libraries still enforce,” he added. “We allow our students to buy their cups of coffee and go anywhere in the building. It should be noted that in spite of this, we haven’t had one keyboard ruined by a spill in the Spidell Technology Center since 2008.”

The goal of the University Library’s remodeling is to promote student success.

“The fifth floor serves that cause by offering a comfortable and attractive high-tech environment where students can collaborate on their projects and research,” said Kochan. “The synergy is captivating. The floor supports student success but so do our librarians. They are responsible for thousands of instructional sessions with our students on how to properly access the world of information both print and digital.”