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Los Angeles: Libraries

In the mid-1960s, the University Library at Los Angeles was one of the youngest of the important libraries in the country. It was made up of the University Research Library, the College Library, and a number of specialized libraries. In addition to its more than two million volumes, the library contained extensive holdings of government publications, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, microtext editions, music scores, recordings, and slides.

Early Development
The first book acquired by the library was Hayden's Survey of Wyoming and Idaho in 1883, two years after the establishment of the Los Angeles State Normal School. By 1919, when the normal school became a part of the University, the collection had grown to 24,000 volumes and the library was run by a staff of four. The staff had increased to 12 and the collection to 42,000 volumes when John E. Goodwin became librarian in 1923, but he noted a lack of "much of the essential literature in the various fields of knowledge," and in his first annual report, recommended that at least $75,000 a year be provided for books and bindings and to purchase older materials essential to a research library.

Goodwin's recommendation was not approved (in fact, it was not until 1940 that the budget reached $75,000), but he was able to plan for the orderly expansion of the library by the immediate reclassification of books from the Dewey Decimal System to the Library of Congress classification system. Goodwin was also able to counter the proposal being considered at the time that the library at Los Angeles remain a small working collection with Berkeley serving as the only University research library. By the time he retired in 1944, the Los Angeles collection had increased to 462,000 volumes, the number of staff members to 52.

Lawrence Clark Powell was chosen as the next librarian. During his service (1944-61), the library had to provide new collections to support many new programs of study that were instituted on the campus. Also, long awaited physical expansion was begun. The central book stack was completed and expanded, bringing the library's total book storage capacity to 800,000.

Robert Vosper was appointed as University Librarian in 1961, and the following year, ground was broken for the first unit of the University Research Library which was completed in 1964. At that time, "some 14 miles of books and four million index cards" were carted across the Los Angeles campus to the new six-story building, which then became the administrative center for the campus library system. The research library housed the main reference, circulation, and periodicals service and the catalog and acquisition department. The College Library (also known as the Main Library) was then converted into an open stack undergraduate library of 150,000 selected volumes.

Specialized Libraries and Collections
Among the specialized libraries were the Government Publications Room in the College Library Building, a depository for the official publications of the federal and California state governments, the United Nations, and a number of other international organizations; the Government and Public Affairs Reading Room, also in the same building, contained official publications of California cities and counties; and the Oriental Library, with books, journals, newspapers, and other materials in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. Some 14 additional specialized libraries were housed in the departments which they primarily serve.

Supplementing the University Library was the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library (located ten miles from the campus) of about 72,500 books, pamphlets, and manuscripts, featuring English culture of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, and the history of Montana.

The Department of Special Collections, established in 1951, contained rare books, pamphlets, manuscripts, the University archives, certain subject collections of books, early maps and files of early California newspapers. During its first ten years of existence, the department acquired a number of major collections. Among these is the Michael Sadleir collection of Victorian fiction, generally regarded as the finest of its kind, which concentrated on minor British novelists of the nineteenth century; a 3,000 volume collection of British children's books from 1790 to 1850; and a large collection of Western Americana formed around the nucleus of the library purchased from California bibliographer and bookseller Robert Ernest Cowan, which contained materials concerned chiefly with the history of northern California, including papers of individuals and organizations prominent in the last half of the nineteenth century.

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The Los Angeles library ranked 36th in the country in 1931 when it first reported its figures to the Princeton Library Survey. In 1964-65, it ranked 11th.

UCLA Librarians

Elizabeth F. Fargo 1910-1923
John E. Goodwin 1923-1944
Lawrence C. Powell 1944-6/1961
Robert G. Vosper 7/1961


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