History Room
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UC Berkeley Library
History Room

Berkeley Students and the Library

The University Library holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many Berkeley, alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and supporters. The Library serves as a place for research and study, whether in the Great Reading Rooms of Doe Library, the comfortable sofas of the Morrison Library, the many tables and chairs of the FSM Café, or at one of the many subject specialty libraries located across the campus.

UC Berkeley’s first class entered in 1869 and included 24 students. Today more than 33,000 students are enrolled at Cal.

Over the course of Berkeley’s nearly 140-year history, students have changed their clothes, hairstyles, and modes of transportation. What today’s students share with those of 1869 is a desire to learn, to discover, to create, to contribute, and to make their way and their mark on the world.

The Library first welcomed students through its doors in 1869--although only from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. Today we welcome students nearly all day and night through our doors and our internet portals, as they seek connections, collections and spaces to study and to learn. The Library has expanded tremendously in those many decades, now supporting the resources for over 300 degree programs at Cal.

1906 students

Female students approaching the east entrance of California Hall with North Hall and the future site of Doe Library in the background, 1906.

class of 1873

Of the 24 freshmen entering the University in 1869, the twelve that graduated came to be known as the "twelve apostles." This class produced a governor, three University Regents, a mayor, a prominent minister, a mathematics professor, a noted attorney, and a part-time University Librarian.

North Reading Room

Generations of Cal students have used the Doe Library’s North Reading Room. Studying there also provides students with ample opportunity to borrow pens from their latest crush or peruse illustrated reference books from the 1800s.

students in 1964

Students have access to the more than 20 subject specialty libraries serving various academic disciplines in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Here students study in the Social Welfare-Criminology Library in Haviland Hall in 1964.

students pages

Prior to establishing the current open library stacks, students had to complete cards requesting specific titles. Requested items would then be located, pulled, and brought to the Loan Desk by students working as library "pages." Once at the Loan Desk, students could check out and use library materials.

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