UC Berkeley Library

Valentines to the UC Berkeley Library

Content section: 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, in an email campaign we asked library supporters to answer this question: "What do you love about the library?" Here are their heart-warming responses.

Frank Lew, '60
My fondest memories of the library are associated with the Morrison. It provided moments of tranquility and escape from the rigors and pressures of student life. When I frequented the Morrison in the late 1950s, I would don headphones to listen to the large collection of LPs played on turntables. I visited again last year, and was startled and pleased to see that in this digital age it continues to have an LP collection and turntable. That's great, since most students today grew up listening to compressed MP3 files through earbuds, and many have little awareness of how good-sounding LPs can be. May the Morrison help increase their awareness.

Paige Perkins Thomas, '86
I love the memory of entering the main reading room of Doe when I was a student and each time feeling a sense of history and a reverence for all who came before me in that great hall. Seeing the students fully engaged and vibrant, with so much energy, determination and purpose, I couldn't help but feel awed as I walked the center aisle—whether I was looking for a quiet refuge or seeking a familiar face. I got a lot of work done in that room, and I also made some new friends.

Marilyn West Alberts, '55
Recommended reading: Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart. In this apocalyptic novel by a noted UCB professor, one of the few survivors is named Ish (probably a reference to Ishi, Last of His Tribe), who makes his way to Berkeley, where he had been a student. Not only the future of the human race is at stake: equally imperiled is the legacy of human knowledge, symbolized by the great Doe library building, with its "well over a million volumes, almost all the accumulated learning of the world, within these four walls. He felt a sudden sense of security and safety and hope. He gloated, like a miser."

Betty Ames, '47
Everything. A place to learn; a place to think; a place to grow.

Elena Danielson, '69, M.L.S. '79
When I enter Doe Library or the Bancroft, I can expect to discover unexpected treasures, like new revelations about the genius of Mark Twain, or lovely old books upstairs in the Morrison room mezzanine. I'm never disappointed.

Jamie Dillon, '75, C.Mult. '78
When I transferred to Berkeley in 1974, I made sure I got a job in the library system so I could have access to the stacks at Doe. Incalculable riches. Studying German literature, I could go looking for Sturm and Drang 18th Century dramatists and find contemporary editions of their plays. The Morrison Room was always a refreshing place to decompress. 

Janine Henri, M.L.S. '90
The UC Berkeley Library has been my source for inspiration and where I nurtured my aspirations.

Bettie Holaday, Ph.D. '79
I graduated 30 years ago and still have fond memories of the library. When I needed a break from working on my dissertation I would head to the reading room and one of the comfortable overstuffed chairs and grab a book off the shelf. In the quiet stacks I had my favorite hangouts where I knew it would be quiet and I could work with no interruptions. I will never forget the librarians who were so helpful.

Cecelia Hurwich, '42
When I was a student at Cal, from 1957-1941, the library was not only a place to study individually, but it was where we liked to study with a date! We felt virtuous walking to the library together, setting out our books for a few hours of concentration, and perhaps on our walk home, stopping off for coffee or a snack. What a treat it was in those days to spend an evening studying at the library with a date!

Beverly Ingram
I love walking on to campus from the north gate and seeing Doe Library across Memorial Glade; it's like a beacon to scholars!

Patricia A. Kirk, '88
In the mid-1980s (mid-life), I enrolled at UC Berkeley as a "resumer" to complete a degree in history. The library was in the initial stages of converting to online access, so I spent most of my research time thumbing through card files and roaming the stacks in Doe Library. I feel privileged to have been on the cusp of that transition because I was in touch with the magic of being behind the scenes, so to speak, wandering on the glass floors and among the carrels, a special place where one could reach into the past in a world set apart. In the years that I spent at Cal, it was Doe Library—in all its richness—that was the source of my own inspiration and my fondest memories.

One weekend I took my very inquisitive, 12-year-old son with me. The magic was not lost on him. Indeed, it inspired him. He later attended and graduated from UC Berkeley and then attended another Berkeley campus for graduate work.

Frank Lester
The better question is what don’t I love. (Nothing!)

Yang Liu, '07
The gorgeous ceiling of the 2nd floor of Doe... WOW! I never cease to be amazed whenever I see it.

William Loughman, '69, J.D. '72
The library is reality's vast, mysterious, exciting, and never-ending hall of mirrors.

Pat Phelan
The library is the mother lode of knowledge and thought for each to mine in the quest to know and understand.

Judith Taylor
I am a retired neurologist who now practices history without a license. I have become an independent scholar and write about the history of horticulture. I also write program notes for a local chamber music society, history of a different sort. None of my 4 books or many articles would have been possible without the UC Berkeley Library system. Every time I go there I bless the foresight and wisdom of earlier librarians who built the collections with depth and complexity. Being able to go through a complete run of an old journal is an exquisite experience. I am also in the debt of today’s library staff, every one of whom treats me with grace and courtesy.