Annual Report of the Library 2003-2004

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Annual Report of the Library 2003-2004

Celebrating the Tradition

IT WAS A MODEST BEGINNING—a stirring in fact—of intellectual curiosity with a student body of less than 100. It was the College of California in 1863 as it moved into a new building in Oakland—but it was a building that contained a library room, “spacious, well lighted and pleasant, ready to receive books and all that pertains to a large public library” (Report to the Board of Trustees, College of California, 1863-4).

Initially it contained 500 books borrowed by the college’s vice president, Rev. Samuel H. Willey, from the faculty. Willey was tireless in his continuing efforts to expand the collection, soliciting donations of books or money from friends and businessmen throughout the country. In the fall of 1865, the college trustees appointed a committee that included Willey to approach the Pacific Mail Steamship Company of New York for a gift. The reply from company president Allan McLane was somewhat unexpected:

“ . . . in view of the important interests of education on the Pacific slope involved in the prosperity of the College of California, I have requested the company’s agent, Oliver Eldredge, Esq., to place to your credit the sum of $5,000 in U. S. gold coin, said donation to be for the sole use of the library of the College of California.”

Main Stacks stairs

“In conclusion, permit me to express the hope and expectation that some of your able and public-spirited citizens will contribute a sufficient fund for the additional purposes named in your letter.”

Today we celebrate that tradition. We celebrate the collections. We celebrate the research. We celebrate the students and faculty. We celebrate the learning and the inspiration of so many generations. Mostly, we celebrate you—our friends—who understand what Mr. McLane understood in 1865: that the prosperity of the Library signals the prosperity of the University.

Considered by most to be the heart of the campus, the University Library can probably best be described by its collections. Any great research university library such as Cal’s is evaluated first and foremost by the breadth and depth of its collections. Again this year in its 2003 survey, the Association of Research Libraries ranked the UC Berkeley Library third of all North American libraries, placing Cal’s as the finest of all public university libraries. Rankings are based in great part on library collections and acquisitions each year, and with over 9.6 million volumes, the collections of the University Library certainly are among the most significant in the world.

And Library collections are never stagnant. Supporting teaching and research at Berkeley requires constant enhancement of the resources that the Library must provide for students, faculty, scholars, and the public. Building, sustaining, and maintaining these exceptional collections is a constant process, requiring faculty advice, Library staff knowledge, and, above all, the financial resources to acquire and provide the needed materials and access.

“If you’re hunting for the obscure but potentially illuminating annual report of the Kredittilsynet (the banking, insurance, and securities commission of Norway), there’s no need to book a flight for Oslo. Nor does a quest to locate Les Divins Elancements d’Amour (a recent study of French religious poetry), the 2004 countryside guide Landscapes of the Italian Lakes, or Cuestiones de Sociologia, published by Argentina’s Universidad Nacional de la Plata, require your travel agent’s assistance. The top-ranked U.S. public research-university library — the one right here at UC Berkeley, whose recent restoration to greatness is a point of campus pride — counts each and every one of these items among its millions of holdings.” (Berkeleyan, September 2, 2004)

This year, gifts from UC Berkeley alumni, faculty and Library friends, combined with income from endowments, have helped improve the Library’s collections, with purchases of materials in rapidly changing and interdisciplinary fields and of updated reference collections resources. Our collections have benefited from the addition of online journals, additional copies of high-use titles, and such unique materials as the personal journals of “Beat” poet, essayist and playwright Michael McClure.

Since its beginnings in the 1860s, the UC Berkeley Library has served as an important place in the lives of its students and faculty. The Library is truly the “intellectual commons” of the University, with its remarkable collections for teaching and learning, and its rooms and halls for quiet study and contemplation. The Library is the place to meet and exchange ideas with fellow students. Its study halls and group study rooms have long been used for exam review, presentation planning, and even “first dates,” with many a romance beginning inside the Library’s walls. Throughout the years the Library has traditionally been crowded, especially at exam time. In 2004, this tradition continues, but now during finals, some portions of the Library remain open 24 hours a day. While the library in the College of California was available to students just a handful of hours each week, today the Library is open more than 900 hours to better serve Berkeley’s faculty and students.

Though steeped in tradition, the UC Berkeley Library is far from static as it remains on the cutting edge of educational and technological change. This year saw the Library spearhead a project to aid faculty in their efforts to incorporate electronic and primary resource material into their teaching. While the Library continues to offer students tours, orientations, and workshops throughout the year, it additionally encourages faculty and other classroom instructors to schedule library sessions specially tailored to their specific course and assignments. The Center for Science and Engineering Information Literacy, comprised of the science and engineering libraries, provides a range of instructional workshops with an emphasis on science and engineering databases and bibliographic management software.

Whether students are doing a research paper or just need to find a fact, the Library continues to provide expert help. Now reference help is available not only in person or by phone, but also by email. A student can send a question electronically to the appropriate campus library, and a librarian will respond within 48 hours (except for weekends and holidays). Computers have become a standard part of library life with plug-in accommodations available in many study carrels and tables. Taking access a step further, “Airbears,” Cal’s wireless computer access project, has extended its reach into several areas of Doe Library allowing students to access the Internet without being physically connected to anything.

Students in the Music Library
The Library continues to change physically, too. Officially opened on July 6, 2004, the new Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library provides additional space and enhanced technological support for the collections and services of the UC Berkeley Music Library, including its outstanding collection of rare books and manuscripts.

Plans to repair and renovate the Bancroft Library received a big boost, thanks to a $750,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an anonymous $5 million gift. The Bancroft Library is home to a collection of more than 500,000 books, 50 million documents, 3.5 million photographs, maps, paintings, photos, diaries and other items, and serves as a valuable resource to researchers from around the world. Half of those who use the collection are students. Its core is the Western Americana Collection started by San Francisco bookseller Hubert Howe Bancroft in 1860, and purchased by UC Berkeley in 1905.

Work on the renovation is slated to begin in early 2006 and take approximately 20 months. Library officials hope to return to the renovated building in Spring, 2008. When the project is complete, the library not only will be safer, but also will feature more exhibit, classroom, reading room and storage space. Paul “Pete” Bancroft III said he is proud of the library begun by his great-grandfather and pleased with plans for improvements. “I really look upon the library as a tremendous resource for the university, and the western world,” said Bancroft, a major donor to The Bancroft Library and a member of the campaign leadership committee for the library.

The University Library received a $1 million gift from Silicon Valley businessman Saul Yeung for the new Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies. Yeung’s donation is designated to support, in equal parts, the construction of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library and to establish a permanent Chinese Collections Endowment Fund to maintain and build the library’s holdings. With this magnificent gift, fundraising for the library —which will be the first freestanding building entirely dedicated to East Asian collections in the United States—has reached its $42 million goal. Construction of the library, which is scheduled to begin in Spring 2005, will ensure UC Berkeley’s preeminent position for the study and teaching of East Asian culture, history, politics, literature and language.

East Reading Room

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our donors, the North Reading Room in Doe Library is being restored in keeping with its historic significance. The North Reading Room has received a new floor, fresh paint, new window treatments, refinished and restored historic tables and chairs, wireless capability, and new task lighting that will echo the original table lamps. The East Reading Room, the new center for current periodicals, will soon be furnished with comfortable seating and improved lighting to create a welcoming environment that encourages on-site reading and browsing of the collection. The North and East Reading Rooms of the Doe Library are architectural treasures that signify to users the privilege and possibility of scholarship. This important project has been generously supported by Library Advisory Board members including S. Allan and Marguerite Johnson, Mollie and Dennis Collins, Charlene and Jack Liebau, Mrs. Marie Lewis Matthews, Mrs. William Main, and Jack and Barbara Rosston.

Founded on the gifts of generous donors and the community, the University Library at Berkeley quite clearly owes its strength and significance to those businesses and people who, in 1865 and since, have understood its incredible importance and purpose in the life of the finest public university in the land.

This Annual Report of the Library serves to recognize and acknowledge our Library donors for 2003-04, who help continue the legacy begun in the 1860’s by Reverend Willey and Allan McLane. Thank you all for continuing to care so much for Cal’s incredible Library. Or as put best by Benjamin Ide Wheeler—

“Give me a library and I will build a university about it.”


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