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Chronology of UC Berkeley Library and Its Collections

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1800s | 1900-1929 | 1930-1949 | 1950-1969 | 1970-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000s


Settlers in California draft a state constitution, expressing intent to create a University


Governor Henry Haight signs the Organic Act (March 23) which officially created the University. The UC Regents first meet June 9, 1868.

September 23, 1869

UC officially opens with ten faculty and a freshman class of about forty. Initial site: Oakland campus of the College of California on Franklin and Harrison between Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets. College of California donates its library of 1,036 volumes to serve as UC's first library. Library hours in Brayton Hall: 4 to 5 p.m.


UCB Library holdings: 4,651 volumes, including one novel


University moves to Berkeley campus. Library located in South Hall. Helped by $2000 gift from Michael Reese to purchase the personal library (politics and economics) of Professor Francis Lieber of Columbia University. F.A. Pioche bequeathed his 1500 volumes in French literature and linguistics. UC library holdings = 11,800 volumes.


Joseph C. Rowell appointed the first full-time University Librarian, UCB (he will serve until 1919) Library holdings = 13,000.


Henry Douglas Bacon of Oakland offered $25,000 toward the erection of a library building, together with his private collection of 1,410 library volumes, paintings, and statuary.


Joseph C. Rowell creates the first card catalog — a hand-written subject catalog.


Henry D. Bacon offers the first private funds for a University building, to be matched by legislative appropriation for a library. Bacon Hall opens in 1888 and includes the Library and the Art Collection.


Michael Reese's bequest of $50,000 for the Library comes to the University in July. It is established as the first endowment.


U.L. Rowell publishes his compiled list of the periodical holdings of nine libraries in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Library moves to the Bacon Art and Library Building. Holdings = 17,000-plus volumes. University Librarian, heretofore the sole staff member, hired a student assistant who also acted as janitor.


Rowell creates the first author catalog — 8,500 cards


UCB Library becomes a depository for U.S. government publications.

Rowell initiates the first system of inter-library loan.

October 1884

Rowell sends letters to 98 learned societies asking that Berkeley be placed on their mailing lists for complimentary publications. In exchange, the Library would provide cooperating libraries copies of publications produced at Berkeley (before UC Press.)


U.L. Rowell seeks permission to begin Interlibrary Loan; his request is granted over a period of years from 1894-98.


Library holds 44,000 volumes; University Librarian Rowell has one full-time assistant and one student acting as janitor.


Rowell publishes his classification system, "Classification of Books in the Library."

Rowell initiates UC's first program of interlibrary lending, with the California State Library as partner.

Rowell expands the invitation for interlibrary lending to various libraries in the country, with forty libraries accepting the plan.


U.L. Rowell partners with Stanford's Univerity Librarian, George T. Clark. to organize the Library Association of Central California (which later became the California Library Association.)


James K. Moffitt, UC class of 1886, established a book fund to which he committed to depositing $100 per year for the purchase of recent literature.


The Library holds 71,000 volumes for 1,560 students.


UCB Library collection is about 80,000 volumes; there are four staff members.


UCB Library subscribes to ALA printed catalog cards


A typewriter is first used in the UCB Library.

UCB Library subscribes to the LC Card service

Summer training course in library methods is introduced.


Charles Franklin Doe bequeaths 24% of his estate (more than $600,000) towards building a new Library.


The Hubert Howe Bancroft Library was acquired, including 60,000 bound volumes, 10,000 manuscript items, newspaper files, periodicals, transactions of political bodies, early western imprints and rare books, all related primarily to California, western and Spanish America.


Bancroft Library locates in the upper floor of California Hall

March 1908

Binding operations began on the Berkeley campus. The Bindery began as a department of the Library. A few years later, it became a part of the University Printing Office.

November 26, 1908

On Thanksgiving Day, the cornerstone for Doe Library was laid (construction continues for two and one-half years thereafter.)


Library grows to 10.5 staff. Leupp is appointed the first Associate University Librarian. Rowell and Leupp are admitted ex officio to Academic Senate membership.


The Staff Council, established in 1911, was made up of the department heads plus the librarian and associate librarian. The Council's purpose was to discuss library problems, administrative policies, and procedures.

May 29 to June 8, 1911

Library moves from Bacon Hall to new Doe Library (then comprised of 2 floors, 5 floors of stacks and the North Reading Room, with no Annex.) Collection is approx 210,000 volumes, and 10 staff are added bringing total staff to 20.5. Doe opens to students in Summer 1912.

March 23, 1912

Doe Library formally dedicated on Charter Day, 1912.


Library began to reclass and recatalog into the LC system, one classification at a time. New materials in remaining classifications continued to be cataloged using Rowell.


The Exchange Division of the Library's Accessions Deparment was established, and the exchange program was taken over from the UC Press.


UCB Library holdings reach 300,000 volumes


S.C. Kiang Kang-Hu presents the Kiang family's library to the University, described at the time as the third largest Chinese collection in the United States.


Floors 3 and 4 added to Doe Library, as were 4 floors of stacks, funded by a state bond passed in 1916.

The Library of French Thought, a collection built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, was given to UC by the French government, and opened in its own space in Doe Library. The Library later become a reading room for the French Department in 1920.

James Cummings Rowell steps down as the first University Library after serving for forty-four years (he will serve as University Archivist until 1938). The collection contains over 392,000 volumes.


Harold L. Leupp becomes 2nd University Librarian (he will serve until 1945). Library holdings = 400,000.


UCB Library collections exceed 500,000 volumes. University Librarian Leupp establishes a "Readers' Department," to coordinate reference and circulation.

UCB Department of Library Science opens on campus.

UCB Library begins to be decentralized with the opening of the Lange Library of Education in Haviland Hall.


The School of Librarianship opens on campus.

February 5, 1928

The Alexander F. Morrison Memorial Library, intended as a recreational reading room for students, was dedicated. It contained an initial gift of 15,000 volumes.

1930 - 37

Despite the Depression and World War II, the library was able to expand services to establish the Divison of Serials and Exchanges, a Documents Division, and Photographic Services.


UCB Biology Library established in the Life Sciences Building.

The Giannini Foundation Library was established to serve the needs of the Department of Agricultural Economics. This is an Affiliated Library.


"Friends of the University Library" was organized to encourage gifts to the Library.


The Library Staff Association was formed, made up of "all members of the professional staff othe Library with a status equal or superior to that of Librarian-Junior Grade." Per its constitution, the group was formed "to enable us to act most effectively for the furtherance of our common interests, and also to foster among us the growth of professional spirit and to promote the general effectivenss of the Library service." Issues discussed included salaries and working conditions, professional standards, professional and personal relationships among librarians.


By the mid-thirties, 4,000 serial titles were being received on exchange, from 77 foreign countries.


The Administrative Structure of the Library at this time, from the top down: The Librarian had three direct reports

  • The Assistant Librarian, responsible for four departments: Accessions, Gifts and Exchanges, Catalog, and The Bindery,
  • The Assistant to the Librarian, responsible for the Photographic Service, Personnel, Equipment and Supplies
  • The Associate Librarian, responsible for the Morrison Memorial Library, two branch libraries (Biology and Education), the Documents Division, Reference Division and the Loan and Shelf Division


The University of California Library Club was organized by student assistants for clerical workers and pages, to "encourage better fellowship among ourselves, to maintain congenial and cooperative relations with the library administration and to better our service to the public."


Recommendation made to UC President that The Bancroft Library become part of the University Library.


UCB Library becomes depository for California government documents.

ALA Board on Resources of American Libraries rates the Berkeley collections best in 53 of 75 fields of knowledge.

February 1945

Vol 1, no. 1 of LAUC News Bulletin published. After two issues, the News Bulletin was replaced by CU NEWS.

August 1, 1945

Donald Coney becomes third University Librarian. (He will serve until 1968)

October 1945

UC President Sproul establishes the Library Council.
"The Library Council is composed of the Dean of the School of Librarianship, the librarian of each campus having a single library, and the ranking librarian of campuses having more than one library. Its function is to concern itself with library problems affecting more than one campus, with consistency of policy and practice, and with the appropriate distribution of responsibility…. Because of the recency of its creation, the Council has as yet performed no miracles." CU NEWS, 15 Dec 1945.

December 1, 1945.

First issue of CU NEWS, a weekly newsletter for Library staff


Library of Congress begins its Overseas Acquisitions Program, in which UC Berkeley participates.

March 1946

"Library Orientation Leaflet #1 containing a floorplan of the Main Library and general information on location of facilities has just been published and is available at all service desks" CU NEWS 16 March 1946

May 4, 1946

"Mr. Cory showed plans for the Library Annex to the members of the newly organized A.S.U.C. Student Library Committee." (CU NEWS)

May 25, 1946

"The first shipment to come from the Library of Congress' Cooperative European Buying Project was received this week. It amounted to about a book truck load of separates, chiefly the German literature, but with a sprinkling of French, Italian and Dutch material." (CU NEWS)

June 30, 1946

Holdings: Main Library 964,361; Bancroft Library 78,734; Biology Library 82,430; Education Library 10,802; Engineering Library 14,536; Rental Collection 37,942; Chinese Collection 47,729; total 1,236,334. Figures are also reported for Law, Giannini and Departmental Libraries.

July 1946

UCB Library becomes depository for United Nations documents

Nov. 13, 1946

"Service Staffs Conference. Should there be courses in library use? If so, who should give them, and which groups of students should attend? These and other questions discussed at the last Service Staffs Conference on 8 November are to be studied by the Faculty Liaison Committee. At the same time the more immediate matter of direct orientation by signs explaining the use of the Library is being considered by Miss Mattei, Miss Dornin, Miss Alexander, and Mrs. Davis." (CU NEWS)


The Farmington Plan goes into effect — a far-reaching effort to ensure that "one copy of every important foreign book" was available in the United States. The plan will run through 1972.


Library for the Institute of Industrial Relations established in California Hall.


The Annex to Doe Library is completed.

UCB Library becomes the sixth largest academic library in the country.

March 1950

Bancroftiana, "published occasionally by the Friends of the Brancroft Library," made its first appearance. [Note:publication of Bancroftiana continues.]


1958 amendment to the Agricultural Trade and Assistance Act of 1954 allows the U.S. to accept and spend "in country" foreign dollars received for agricultural products on books and periodicals, creating the PL-480 program.


UCB collection over 2.5 million volumes.

A "Master Plan for Higher Education, 1960-1975" was published by the State and its recommendations enacted into law by the Donahoe Higher Education Act.

  • public higher education divided into three "segments": the junior colleges, the "State College System" and the University of California;
  • "each shall strive for excellence in its sphere";
  • "The University shall have the sole authority in public higher education to award the doctor's degree in all fields of learning," except that joint doctor's degrees may be awarded with the state colleges in selected fields;
  • the University "shall have exclusive jurisdiction over training for the professions of dentistry, law, medicine, veterinary medicine, and graduate architecture";
  • the University shall also "provide instruction in the liberal arts and sciences," and that "in order to raise materially standards for admission" the University should plan to admit all qualified graduates of California public high schools "from the top one-eighth."


The Regents adopt a 10-year plan for library development, including the mention of a northern regional library facility.


William Wenz transfers to the University Library to establish its first office of Library Personnel, and becomes its Director.

The Inter-campus Library Facility - North (ICLF-N) begins operation in former Ford assembly plant in Richmond. By 1982, holds 1.3 million items.


Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR) first published

Fall 1967

University Federation of Librarians, representing a third of the professional staff, chartered as American Federation of Teachers Local 1795

Winter 1967

Librarians Association of the University of California (LAUC) founded.


James E. Skipper becomes fourth University Librarian. (He will serve until 1972.)

"January 1, 1968, the Catalog Department will discontinue assigning Rowell call numbers to newly classified American and English language and literature titles." CU NEWS

March 13 1968

First meeting of LAUC-B, Berkeley's chapter of the Librarian's Association of the University of California


Recon: Begin conversion of card catalog cards


State Census shows different slower growth patterns than State and University had anticipated and planned for.

Moffitt Undergraduate Library opens at Berkeley

July 1, 1971

Eldred Smith becomes Acting University Library. (He will serve through June 30, 1972.)


UCB Catalogers extended Library of Congress classification to new volumes in continuing sets, as they had been for books since 1943.

State Department of Finance issues a two-volume report, "The Management and Operations of the University of California: The Library System of the University". Among the major recommendations:

  • That the University "reexamine and restate its library acquisition goals and policies";
  • that steps be taken to avoid unnecessary duplication;
  • that "budgetary restraints be used to insure compliance" with these recommendations;
  • that more funds be allocated "to improve interlibrary cooperation and coordination within the UC system";
  • that more materials be purchased in microform.

July 1, 1972

Richard M. Dougherty becomes University Librarian. (He will serve until 1978.)


Library Policy Task Force, established by President Hitch and chaired by Vice President Angus Taylor, identified four bases for library planning:

  1. The library holdings of all the campuses should be considered as a single University collection rather than nine separate collections.

  2. The University library collection should be developed and maintained in close relation to the University and campus academic plans.

  3. Policies for acquisition and operation should be designed to make the most effective use of available funds.

  4. Each campus should have a collection which, in conjunction with other elements of the University library system, is fully adequate to support the programs of instruction and research approved for that campus.

The Task Force also made recommendations on the basic organization of the libraries: that "the University collection be organized into regional systems," tentatively suggesting one in the North and another in the South.

The University of California Academic Plan 1974-1978 further articulated the concept underlying a University Library:

"To build and maintain a great library system for this multicampus University is not the same as the building of nine libraries, one for each campus… it will be necessary to develop new patterns of library organization and service, and new strategies for getting the maximum utility from funds expended." (pg 40.)


Doe Library rated "seismically poor".


Stephen Salmon, Executive Director of Universitywide Library Planning, prepares "The University of California Libraries, A Plan for Development 1978-1988." (Report commonly referred to as the Salmon Plan.) Plan officially endorsed by UC President Saxon on July 13, 1977.


Joseph A. Rosenthal becomes Acting University Librarian. (He will become University Librarian and serve until August 1992.)

Fall 1979

Media Resources Center opens in Moffitt Undergraduate Library


Collection Development Policy Statement, The General Library University of California Berkeley published. Authors: Dorothy Koenig and Sheila Dowd. Preliminary edition, January 1980. Reprinted December 1982.


January 1, 1981: "Day One" of the Anglo American Cataloging Rules II (AACR2). UCB freezes the author-title and subject card catalogs; catalog records for books acquired after 1/1/81 appear in microfiche.

The Catalog Instruction Group publishes the "little red book": Quotations from Chairman Joe, 12/30/80, to assist staff in answering users questions. Two excerpts:

  • "Cards work well for small and medium-sized libraries but when you are dealing with the cards for over 5 million books things get a lot stickier. Berkeley spends almost $150,000 a year just to file cards in its many catalogs and making corrections to the card catalog is an almost insurmountable and never-ending task. This along with the changes in cataloging rules that will start in January 1981 caused the library to consider a more efficient method of producing and changing catalog records. A computerized catalog was the obvious answer since it allows for relatively easy corrections and maintenance and there is no card filing involved."

  • "Looking for a book published after 1976? Start with Catalog 2:Books — if not there, check Catalog1. Looking for a book published before 1977? Start with Catalog 1 - if not there, be sure to go to Catalog 2. Looking for a serial? Start with Catalog 2: Serials. Looking for books on a subject? Look in Catalog 2: Subjects (COMING SOON) and complement that with Catalog 1. Be sure to pick headings from the LC LIST OF SUBJECT HEADINGS. Found your book but looking for more copies? Check Catalog 2. Still no luck? Ask a library staff member?"

August 17, 1981

Melvyl® online prototype officially "up" for public use; 750,000 records; a static database


The Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF) opens in Richmond


Production version of Melvyl® available with continuing updates.

The Inter-campus Library Facility - North (ICLF-N) closes after all materials transferred to NRLF.


California Academic Libraries List of Serials (CALLS) available on MELVYL® as prototype Periodicals file.

The Business Library acquired the Library's first public access cd-rom in 1984. It was called Compact Disclosure and contained financial information for U.S. public companies.


NRLF holds 2 million items.

The Business Library acquired the Library's first end-user online database service in 1985 — Dow Jones New Service. Students were required to attend a 30 minute training course and then had free access via a PC in BUSI.


Guide to Collection Development and Management at the University of California Berkeley. 1986. Authors: Dowd, Koenig, Spohrer.



  • California State Library monograph records added.
  • First UC-hosted database — MELVYL MEDLINE® — available in UC Health Sciences libraries.



  • Library of Congress Books tapes matched against the database.
  • Center for Research Libraries records added. MELVYL MEDLINE database available in all UC Libraries.


NRLF Phase 2 building addition opens


Melvyl®: Users able to mail search results to electronic mailboxes


Dorothy Gregor becomes University Librarian. (She will serve until 1994.)

Seismic upgrade to Moffitt Library corners completed.

NRLF holds 3 million items.


"The Teaching Library … was created to bridge the gap between the classroom and the library's information resources. Its mission is to ensure that all graduates of the university are thoroughly familiar with the information resources and tools in their respective fields of study, trained in their effective use, and, beyond that, prepared to conduct a search for information resources in any field of inquiry." — Pat Maughan, on Information Literacy.

National development began at UC Berkeley of Encoded Archival Description (EAD). The development was a cooperative venture, with specialists at Berkeley working in consultation with experts at other institutions. Daniel Pitti, the principal investigator for the Berkeley Project, developed requirements for the encoding standard which included the following criteria: 1) ability to present extensive and interrelated descriptive information found in archival finding aids, 2) ability to preserve the hierarchical relationships existing between levels of description, 3) ability to represent descriptive information that is inherited by one hierarchical level from another, 4) ability to move within a hierarchical informational structure, and 5) support for element-specific indexing and retrieval.


  • Users able to create Update searches for current awareness.
  • Users able to order documents from campus document delivery services via MELVYL REQUEST.
  • First full text available (some titles in Computer Database and Expanded Academic Index).


Peter Lyman becomes University Librarian. (He will serve until 1998.)

Administrative responsibility for NRLF transferred to the Berkeley campus from the Office of the President.


  • Z39.50 client and server developed and some database available.
  • Access to bit-mapped images of Elsevier materials science journals through TULIP
  • Melvyl® systems displays first circulation information using Z39.50 access to UC Davis OPAC.

June 1994

CU NEWS ceases print publication; goes 100% electronic

June 3, 1994

Author/Title catalog removed from what was then called the Loan Hall

July/August 1994

Gardner Stack underground construction completed. Student workers organized by stacks manager, Willyce Kim, move 1.5 million volumes between July 5 and Aug 22 (a rate of 200,000 books/week)in "the biggest book move west of the Mississippi."


The Thomas J. Long Business & Economics Library opens, January 18, 1995 in the new Haas School of Business. The 50,000 square foot facility was planned by head librarian Milt Ternberg.


California Digital Library is founded — first UL/Executive Director is Richard Lucier.


Millicent "Penny" Abell becomes Interim Univerisity Librarian. (She will serve from May 1998 through November 1998.)

Jerry Lowell becomes University Librarian. (His term began December 1998 and continues through August 31, 2000.)

NRLF holds 4 million items.

January 1999

California Digital Library opens to the public, via the Web.


Thomas Leonard joins the staff September 1, 2000 as interim University Librarian. Becomes permanent in 2001.

Exchange programs with about 2,800 partners account for around 12,000 serial titles and 6,000 monographs per year.

April 2000

Social Sciences Council launched an intiative to experiment with 835 e-books through netLibrary. Suzanne Calpestri, Beth Sibley, and Milt Ternberg selected the titles for the collection.

1800s | 1900-1929 | 1930-1949 | 1950-1969 | 1970-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000s

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