UC Berkeley Library

You can still access the UC Berkeley Library’s services and resources during the closure. Here’s how

Using the Library during COVID-19

Many of our services are now being offered in new ways. To find the latest information on course reserves, book returns, 24/7 online help, and more, visit our Library services and resources during COVID-19 page. The information on that page supersedes all other information on the Library website at this time.


Content section: 

Due to Covid-19, many of Bancroft's events will be conducted online via Zoom.

Please note: As per the University's guidelines, all participants and hosts are now required to sign in to a Zoom account prior to joining meetings hosted by UC Berkeley. The Bancroft Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations or have questions about an event, please email banc-roundtable@berkeley.edu for the Roundtables, and bancroft@library.berkeley.edu for other Bancroft-sponsored events.

While our physical exhibition spaces are closed, please visit our online exhibits: 


ROUNDTABLE: Curious Elision: Reading Philip Whalen's Manuscripts at The Bancroft

September 17th
Watch online on YouTube

Presented by David Brazil, noted poet, pastor, and translator

Poet Philip Whalen wrote his book-length masterpiece Scenes of Life at the Capital during a residence in Kyoto from 1969 to 1971. Forty years later, Wave Books has published a new reader's edition of the poem, with an extended afterword by poet and scholar David Brazil. In this Roundtable talk, David will share insights into Whalen's poetry, as well as discoveries made in the course of examining Whalen's papers and notebooks held by The Bancroft Library.

You can order the book through Wave Books or support local, independent bookstores through Bookshop.org.


ROUNDTABLE:  Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

October 15th
Watch online on YouTube

Presented by Megan Rosenbloom, Collection Strategies Librarian at UCLA and cofounder of Death Salon

There are books out there, some shelved unwittingly next to ordinary texts, that are bound in human skin. Would you know one if you held it in your hand? In Dark Archives Megan Rosenbloom seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these alleged human skin books still sit on the shelves of the world’s most famous libraries and museums; one of them may even be at Bancroft! What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, women, and indigents whose lives are bound together in this rare, scattered, and disquieting collection. It also tells the story of the scientists, curators, and librarians like Rosenbloom—interested in the full complicated histories behind these dark artifacts of nineteenth-century medicine—who are developing tests to discover these books and sorting through the ethics of custodianship. In her talk, Rosenbloom will give us a background on the historical practice of binding books with human skin and read from her upcoming monograph on the subject.

You can pre-order a signed copy of Dark Archives through Skylight Books in Los Angeles.


ROUNDTABLE: "An Island Rises from the Sea to Annex Itself": George Davidson, the Pacific Coast Survey, and the Charting of an Oceanic American Empire

November 19th *POSTPONED*

Presented by Alexander Arroyo, graduate student, Department of Geography and Kenneth E. and Dorothy V. Hill Fellowship recipient

George Davidson, head of the U.S. Coast Survey for the Pacific, president of the California Academy of Sciences, and the first professor of geography at Berkeley, spent nearly his entire career charting the location and transformation of the Bering Sea's stratovolcano, Aĝasaaĝux (or "Bogoslof," as renamed by Russian sailors)—from his first Alaska survey in 1867 until his death in 1911. Utilizing historical information from Unangan informants, navigational charts of failed forays through the Northwest Passage, and military-scientific expeditions in the Aleutian Islands, Davidson's extensive research into the centurial life of Aĝasaaĝux/Bogoslof refracts the complex relations between multiple modes of geographic knowing deployed in the United States' fin de siècle imperial project. Drawing on The Bancroft Library's voluminous collection of Davidson's papers, Arroyo will utilize unpublished notes, drawings, and correspondence to discuss the historical conditions through which "an island rising from the sea" could be said to "annex itself" for empire.