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San Francisco: Libraries

Early Origins
Early documents verify the existence of a library in the Toland Medical College in July, 1866, when the school had only been in existence for a year and a half. In the offer of the school to the University in March, 1873, Dean Beverly Cole stated in his letter to President Gilman that ". . .in addition to the real property, the gift will include all and every description of property, such as books. . ." By 1903, the library had some 2,300 volumes and some 50 titles of current periodicals among which the German periodicals in anatomy, physiology, and bacteriology were well represented.

After the first two years of the Medical School were moved to the Berkeley campus in 1906, the libraries for these basic subjects developed in Berkeley largely as departmental collections established by gifts from Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst and Mrs. William H. Crocker, while the clinical emphasis of the departments remaining in San Francisco gave direction to the development of its own libraries. By 1920, the collection at San Francisco had grown to some 10,000 volumes of books and bound periodicals, with a "subscription list of nearly 200 of the best English, French and German periodicals," some 14,500 foreign University dissertations, and a "notable collection of Ophthalmological journals."

The Libraries Are Consolidated
In 1934, the Medical Library was consolidated with the Dental Library and housed in the south wing of the Medical School Building. In 1936, Dr. Chauncey D. Leake assumed the post of librarian and initiated a period of great activity for the library. The Nursing Library was added to those of the medical and dental schools in 1943, while the College of Pharmacy continued to maintain a separate library. That same year, Dr. John B. deC. M. Saunders succeeded Dr. Leake as librarian and ushered in the period of greatest growth and expansion of the libraries.

By 1950, the collection had grown to some 85,000 volumes and the staff to seven people. The quarters provided in 1921 were now completely overcrowded and the overload caused a serious weakening in the foundations of the building. Temporary shelving in several basement and underground areas had to be provided to house the overflow of the collection until the new Medical Sciences Building, Increment II, would be ready for occupancy. In the meantime, efforts were made to amalgamate all libraries on the San Francisco campus under a central administrative and budgetary office and make the library an all-campus activity known as the Medical Center Library. This plan was approved in 1952 by the deans of all the professional schools on campus and by President Sproul.

New Facilities
On June 2, 1958, the library opened its doors in Increment II of the Medical Sciences Building. The departments which had been moved to Berkeley 52 years earlier were finally brought back to the medical school in San Francisco. The Pharmacy Library was integrated with the rest of the collection and the historical collection was moved to new and more adequate quarters on the third floor of the new library. At the end of the fiscal year 1964-65, the collection to the Medical Center Library consisted of 258,877 volumes, including 69,774 foreign University medical dissertations, 4,276 current serials, and close to 20,000 pamphlets. Its staff had grown to 54.02 full-time equivalent employees, including 17 professional librarians.

By the mid-1960's, new areas being developed in the library were human ecology, sociology, anthropology, genetics, educational psychology, behavioral sciences, mathematics, biostatistics, biophysics, and nuclear and space medicine. At that time, the library was again running short of seats, shelf space, and staff accommodations and awaited the addition of three floors in the Health Sciences Instruction and Research Building, East, then being erected and to be ready for occupancy in the spring of 1966.


Sanford V. Larkey 1930-1936
Chauncey D. Leake 1936-1943
John B. de C. M. Saunders 1943-


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