UC Berkeley Library

Charlene Liebau

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  “I’ve loved spending time in Cal’s library since my days as a freshman,” Charlene Liebau remembers. One surprising skill she learned at the long study tables was how to “power nap”! She could put her head on her books for twenty minutes, she says, and wake up refreshed and ready for another few hours of work. This ability to recharge her batteries with a brief rest came in handy during her busy professional career in college admissions.

Liebau, who earned her BA in sociology from Berkeley in 1960, remembers with fondness “being in Doe feeling lost trying to write a paper, studying for a test, or just trying to keep up with the required reading. Working in the North Reading Room made me feel scholarly and inspired me to push on.” (Visit a slideshow to see the North Reading Room and other library architectural highlights.)

Both through her professional career and her philanthropy, Liebau has found numerous ways to inspire students like herself to push on with their academic aspirations. Her twenty-year career in college admissions included leadership roles at the California Institute of Technology and at Occidental College, and was followed by six years as an educational consultant. In addition to her BA from UC Berkeley, she holds a master’s degree in counseling from Stanford University.

Liebau has been a library volunteer for well over a decade, having joined the Library Advisory Board in 2001. As the president of the board, she assists the University Librarian and other administrators with charting the future for the library.

Her most recent gift to the Library is an endowment to support the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research. This outstanding gift will ensure secure support of this highly-regarded program—a “Berkeley original” when it was founded over 10 years ago. She has also generously endowed a study room in Doe Library. This well-used space provides the perfect setting for the kind of group study which is increasingly called for in today’s collaborative, interdisciplinary learning environment.

Revisiting campus and the library she remembers from her undergraduate days, Liebau is most impressed by “how the library is integrated into active learning and teaching for undergraduates. I am encouraged to know faculty members are bringing students, beginning in the freshman year, into the library to conduct original research using primary materials. Learning how to ask the important questions and to evaluate data is a very exciting process for students to experience.”

She continues, “I am inspired to support Cal’s libraries out of a respect for knowledge, the wealth of information a library contains, and the promise it holds to help find answers to the questions we face in science, technology, the economy, politics, human development and human relations.”

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