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Doe Library, 1911

"It is the heart of the university and the center of its most serious work. It is rapidly becoming one of the great libraries of this country."
—David Prescott Barrows, UC President, 1919–1923

In 1896-97, Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst provided funding for a competition to design an architectural plan for the University, including the construction of a new library building. University Librarian Joseph Rowell set out his vision for the new Library. Note his emphatic desire for rectangular rooms perhaps as a result of difficulty working with the round spaces of Bacon Library for so many years.

Berkeley California
November 16, 1898

J.B.Reinstein, Trustee
Phoebe A. Hearst Architectural Plan

Dear Sir
In response to your favor of yesterday I beg leave to submit amended and enlarged statements regarding the necessary rooms, etc. in a new

which shall accommodate 800,000 volumes and 1000 readers. Th exceedingly scanty enumeration of facilities required, as given on page 19 of the ëProgrammeí, leads me to imagine that my detailed statement, dated May 11, 1896, did not reach the hands of the Trustees or has been mislaid and overlooked.

1st. Location.
The Library Building should find its most appropriate location near the center of the concourse of other university structures and in the immediate vicinity of such colleges or departments of instruction as use books as their primary and essential means of imparting instruction.

It should be connected with other edifices by means of a subway, to contain pneumatic book railway, water pipes, telephone and electric lines, etc.

Free space for future extension must be allowed.

2nd. Character of Construction
Consideration should be given to solidity and strength necessary to sustain great weight of books.

Thoroughly fireproof in view of unreplaceable literary treasures therein.

A perfect system of ventilation, allowing complete change of air in reading and seminary rooms once in sixty minutes, and in book stack rooms once in six hours, and without perceptible drafts of air, In summer as well as in winter.

An abundance of light is a prime necessity. There should not be a dark corner in the building anywhere (except in the photograph room); and the system of artificial lighting should enable every part of the edifice to be amply lighted on days when natural light is deficient.

All artificial heat should be supplied (hot water preferred) from a source entirely outside the library building proper. Not a single fireplace or smoke flue should be permitted within the edifice.

All wires conveying electrical currents should be insulated in the most thorough and careful manner.

In general the library building should be planned primarily with regard to its use and contents and not for purely architectural and decoration effects.

3rd. Divisions of the Building.
In general. The various rooms and parts of the building should be readily accessible, on each floor, from the center of administration. Hall, passages, and exits to be so arranged as to permit ingress or egress of a large number of readers simultaneously and quickly, without a disturbance of readers remaining at work. In particular, entrance to delivery room and to seminary rooms should not be through the main reading room.

All rooms should be rectangular.

Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University of California, persuaded Charles Franklin Doe to bequeath funds for the construction of a new library. In 1904, Wheeler wrote:

The Library is a common interest of all the departments. In its prosperity is bound up the scholarly fate of the University. Until we have a great library, properly housed and administered, we cannot have a great university. The promise therefore which has come to the University during the past year, through the bequest of Mr. Charles F. Doe, that a suitable library building will be provided during the next three years constitutes the strongest encouragement for the future of the institution which any single occurrence of the biennium, if not our entire history, has warranted. Plans for this building are already far advanced.

The Doe Library opened in 1911 to house an initial collection of over 160,000 volumes.

Lintel namestone

North façade under construction at the moment when the lintel bearing the words "The University Library" was lifted into place by steam power.

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