NO.58 FALL 2001

The Library Associates

Join more than 6,000 other friends, book lovers, alumni, and faculty who recognize that the influence of a great research library reaches beyond the university it serves to the many communities of which it is a part.

Library Associates receive complimentary copies of the quarterly newsletter Bene Legere, as well as invitations to special occasions at the Library. For more information on the Library Associates program, please write or telephone: The Library Development Office, Room 188 Doe Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000; telephone (510) 642-9377. Or, check our website.


Public Service to the Campus and Community

Picture of the Circulation Area of Doe Library.

One of the core values of the University of California's mission is public service.

In the schools and colleges at Berkeley, or within the hundreds of academic programs on campus, public service may mean literally hundreds of things. For the University Library, public service means one thing--patron service for the people who use our vast and exceptional collections and resources. Those patrons may be faculty, students, scholars, or the general public. As simple and direct as our public service may appear, it is much more than having books available on the shelves. It is the spectrum of activities that makes the available resources easier to access and understand. It is the librarians and staff who provide direct support to every inquiry. It is a sense of service to the community as a public library.

Picture of the Reference Desk in Doe Library.

At the heart of library service is reference, the multitude of activities performed by librarians to help students and scholars identify the sources that are relevant to their study.

While much reference work is done in person by librarians, new technologies allow similar results to be achieved via telephone or computer.

The Library is creating a single, consolidated reference and research service for the humanities and social sciences. Located in the former subject catalog hall on the second floor of Doe Library, this center will bring together the disparate reference sources and personnel that have been scattered throughout the campus into a single, inter-disciplinary "one-stop shopping" location. Recognizing that the prevailing undergraduate research patterns often consist exclusively of generalized web searches, special consideration is taken in instructing students of the advantages of a broad range of available and detailed research resources on the internet. Current plans also call for reopening the second floor entrance to Doe Library, so that reference services are more accessible.

Centralizing reference services is part of a nationwide trend for universities to align more closely the undergraduate library services with undergraduate academic priorities to help students achieve "information literacy" (those skills required to recognize when information is needed and then the ability to locate, evaluate, and process that information). After a period of lagging interest in undergraduate library collections in the 1990s, librarians are now building these collections that specifically support undergraduate pursuits and research interests. To this end, Cal is re-energizing the James K. Moffitt Undergraduate Library and targeting reference library services to meet the specific needs of our new undergraduate students.

Some of Cal's other public service activities often may not seem like services at first glance, but in fact, represent a whole range of activities that are intended to enrich the scholarly lives of Cal's community.

Consider these service activities:

  • Bancroft Library partnered with the Wells Fargo Foundation to produce a series of three audio tapes for the State's public libraries and high schools. Focusing on the Gold Rush, Mark Twain, and the Spanish missions, these tapes are intended to increase interest in California history, and result in making the public more aware of the Bancroft's collections. They were distributed to every public library system in the State, including all high school libraries.
  • The Library's Lunch Poems, a Noontime Poetry Reading Series, continues to draw capacity crowds to the Morrison Library once a month at noon. For the last five years, the work of a diverse group of prominent poets has been presented to audiences coming from the Cal community and the general public.
  • The Bancroft Library's Mark Twain Project has just published a new edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This latest edition is based on new information from a manuscript of the first half of the book that was found in a Los Angeles garage in 1991. This discovery prompted a rethinking and reediting of the text of the Project's last edition of the same book (1985).

When one thinks of the UC Library, they understandably think of the collections and the programs. But Library public service is what makes those collections and programs so valuable and well-respected. Serving scholars and serving the public are at the core of what makes the Cal Library great.

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Originally published Fall 2001. Server manager: contact