UC Berkeley Library

Your Gifts at Work

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Your gifts to the University Library create an enduring legacy treasured by generations of students, faculty, and other scholars. Here, we take the opportunity to celebrate a few of the significant gifts that have helped make the University Library what is it today: one of the finest public university research libraries in the world, rich in history, rich in collections, and rich in the new discoveries nurtured within its walls.

While the major projects described in these three stories have had an obvious impact on the Library's services and offerings, no less important are the many annual donors whose gifts go towards acquisitions, special projects, preservation, and other essential activities and resources.

Restoration of the North Reading Room and Heyns Reading Room

North Reading Room, Doe Library

Designed and built in 1910 by Cal's renowned architect, John Galen Howard, the North Reading Room of Doe Library is one of the most dramatic spaces on campus. An extensive renovation project in 2004-05 returned it to its original glory.

Many Cal alumni remember this majestic, light-filled room as one of their favorite campus locations, but almost a century of use had taken its toll. The restoration project began by stripping the room down to bare walls and concrete floor. Paint on the walls was carefully removed down to the first layer, so the historic color could be matched.

The repair and refinishing of the handsome oak study tables and chairs highlighted the extraordinary quality of the original craftsmanship. The time-consuming technique of quarter sawing the oak boards had been used in their construction, resulting in very stable furniture that boasts the prized "ray flecks" from the oak grain. A lacquer finish was used, rather than polyurethane.

The 1950s-era fluorescent trough lighting was replaced with study lamps custom-fabricated to match the originals, which were captured in archival 1930s photos from The Bancroft Library. New wiring was installed, as well as a protective slat to ensure that students don't help themselves to the expensive lightbulbs! All the improvements, such as new flooring, perimeter bookshelf lighting, and new shelving, were meticulously designed to be in keeping with the historic nature of the room.

Also on the second floor of Doe Library is the East Reading Room, which in 2006 was named for Berkeley's Chancellor from 1965 to 1971. Now the Roger W. Heyns Reading Room, it has been adapted with new study areas and expanded library shelving for periodicals collections. With its ornate Renaissance decoration, majestic ceiling, spacious study tables, and comfortable reading area, the Heyns Reading Room is a rich and peaceful setting for student and faculty research.

The renovation of these reading rooms has provided a suitable setting for the finest collections of any public research university library in North America. Completed as part of the renovation of the Bancroft Library, the project cost approximately two million dollars. The Library is grateful to the leadership efforts of Mrs. Jean Doyle; Jack and Barbara Rosston; Mollie and Dennis Collins; Charlene and Jack Liebau; Doris and George Maslach; and Robert Haas. Support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr Fund, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the Miriam and Peter Haas Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation was essential to the success of the project.

Read more about your gifts at work:
Free Speech Movement Cafe
Fiat Lux: Lighting the Library

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