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NO.67 SUMMER 2005
BENE LEGERE
NEWSLETTER OF THE
LIBRARY ASSOCIATES

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 131 Doe Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000; telephone (510) 642-9377. Or, check our website.

     

The Centennial Campaign for the Renewal of The Bancroft Library

The University Library at Berkeley has embarked on a capital campaign effort to raise the final $10 million of the $32 million goal for private support for the seismic and programmatic renovation of The Bancroft Library, Berkeley's world-renowned rare book and special collections library.

The success of this campaign will ensure that Bancroft's irreplaceable collections remain secure and accessible to researchers and scholars for at least another hundred years.

The Bancroft Library stands today as the premier special collections library of the University of California, as well as one of the finest in the country. Its collections contain hundreds of thousands of rare and unique books, millions of historic and literary manuscripts, diaries and letters, and thousands of original paintings, photographs, and rare artifacts.

The core collection began in 1860 through the foresight of San Francisco book dealer Hubert Howe Bancroft, who assembled an unparalleled collection of primary sources on California and the American West. Understanding the educational and historical significance of this unequaled collection, the Regents of the University of California agreed to acquire it in 1905, culminating with a formal arrangement in 1906. The collection made the journey by ferry and horse cart from San Francisco beginning in May, 1906, after it narrowly escaped destruction in the 1906 earthquake and fire (by a mere two city blocks!)-the only major library in the City to survive the disaster.

Today, The Bancroft Library houses such rare artifacts as the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to Dr. Benjamin Rush introducing Meriweather Lewis, the notebooks Mark Twain filled as he discovered the West, and the inspired drawings commissioned by Phoebe Apperson Hearst to make the Berkeley campus a "City of Learning." It also holds the world's greatest collection of primary source materials on the history of California and the West-from Spanish California to the Gold Rush Era to the emergence of Silicon Valley. Reaching beyond the Berkeley campus, Bancroft occupies a vital position as the custodian and trustee of California's historical and cultural heritage.

In an age when key documents of our culture are viewed primarily through reproductions, Bancroft places original documents into the hands of its patrons, inspiring students to become scholars. Providing both unmatched expertise and expanded public access to its collections, Bancroft has become an important public center for the promotion of innovative ideas and research.

Attracting and serving scholars and students from around the world, The Bancroft Library is vigilant in the pursuit and acquisition of new materials that will provide scholars in the 22nd century with invaluable resources for the study of today's world.

Bancroft balances the need to continue building and preserving comprehensive collections with the need to provide access to its patrons-not only for today, but for years to come. The wealth of Bancroft's collections is apparent each day in the numbers of scholars and students studying the ever-changing "treasures of Bancroft."

With over half its patrons coming from the Berkeley campus-primarily undergraduate and graduate students-The Bancroft Library has placed greater emphasis on its instructional programs. Bancroft supports hundreds of classes each year with instruction in the use of primary source materials.

The Problem

Although The Bancroft Library is a vibrant and dynamic institution, constantly adding to its collections and enhancing its programs, it faces some serious limitations.

The space required to store and maintain the collections properly, to present exhibits and programs, and to accommodate curators and patrons is severely challenged.

For every new volume added to the collections since 1980, another volume has been sent to off-site storage. Today, over two-thirds of the Bancroft collections are stored off the Berkeley campus.

As The Bancroft Library prepares for its second century at Berkeley, these limitations must be addressed and critical needs answered. The most pressing issues facing Bancroft today threaten the library's very mission. The building's lack of adequate climate control places Bancroft's priceless collections at risk of physical deterioration, its insufficient instructional space limits student access to primary source materials, and its exhibition space lacks environmental controls, adequate security features, and flexibility, seriously restricting the display of Bancroft's materials for the public. The curatorial and materials processing space also is also limited, hampering staff productivity and creativity. As a result, newly acquired materials and collections cannot be processed in a timely manner.

The antiquated physical infrastructure of the fifty year-old building prevents the implementation of cutting edge digital technologies-many developed at Bancroft-to support teaching and research efforts.

The Solution

In 2002, The University of California's Office of the President mandated the immediate seismic renovation of the Bancroft building, with the State and University providing $32 million in funding for this project. This seismic renovation would address the structural integrity of this fifty year-old building, but would not provide support for the internal redesign needed to improve Bancroft's facilities for its programs and collections-and for patron access. Funds for the reconfiguration and improvement of the building must be raised from private sources.

To launch The Bancroft Library into its second century, the Centennial Campaign for the Renewal of The Bancroft Library was created.

The project will create a remodeled facility to provide enlarged and improved storage, research, and teaching areas for collections, instructional programs, and curatorial workspace.

The renovation will expand the gallery and exhibition space to provide the public with a better understanding of and improved access to the Bancroft collections, and will enhance scholarly and public access to Bancroft with redesigned and more efficient spaces for the reading room and circulation services. Up-to-date heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems will be installed as part of the renovation to support the ongoing preservation of rare and unique historical collections, and a state-of-the-art security system to protect collections from fire, water damage, theft, or other loss will be implemented.

The Centennial of The Bancroft Library in 2006 provides an exceptional opportunity to advance Bancroft's mission and vision-and to meet the priority needs.

This greatly improved facility will allow future generations of students and scholars to continue to benefit from this remarkable library.

The Bancroft Challenge

With $32 million already committed from the State of California, the Library now needs to raise a final $10 million of the $32 million additional funding needed from private sources to complete a full programmatic renovation. As the public campaign begins, $22 million has already been raised in private support from leadership gifts.

To encourage greater donor support, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation of Oakland is very generously providing a $5 million challenge grant that will match every dollar raised until the final goal is achieved.

You can help us reach this remarkable goal with a gift or pledge to the Bancroft Centennial Fund. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar and will ensure that the treasures of the University Library will be secure for many generations to come-and that Bancroft's remarkable collections will continue to thrive well into the 22nd century.


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Document maintained on server: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ by the Library Development Office
Originally published Summer 2005. Server manager: contact