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UC Berkeley Library
History Room

Growth of the Collections

North Reading Room

The UC Berkeley Library began in 1868 with a collection of 1,036 volumes transferred from the original College of California. The traditions evident in the early years of our soon-to-be-great institution evolved into the broad and strong foundations that continue to provide academic strength and enrichment today. Throughout its history, the Library of the University of California has benefited from the loyalty and generosity of alumni and friends. Its collections have grown and its services expanded as a result of the recognition of the crucial role the Library plays both in the community and on the campus.

1868Library established with the transfer of 1,036 volumes from the College of California.
1872UCB Library holdings: 4,651 volumes, including one novel. UC enrollment: 151 students
1873 University moves to Berkeley campus. Library located in South Hall. Aided by a $2000 gift from Michael Reese, the Library purchases the personal library (politics and economics) of Professor Francis Lieber of Columbia University. F.A. Pioche bequeaths his 1500 volumes in French literature and linguistics. UC library holdings: 11,800 volumes.
1875Joseph C. Rowell appointed the first University Librarian, UCB (he will serve until 1919). Library holdings: 13,000. Enrollment: 310 students.
1876Henry Douglas Bacon of Oakland offers $25,000 towards the erection of a library building, together with his private collection of 1,410 library volumes, paintings, and statuary. Bacon Hall opens in 1881 and includes the Library and the Art Collection.
1876-79Joseph C. Rowell creates the first card catalog, a hand-written subject catalog.
1879Michael Reese's bequest of $50,000 for the Library comes to the University in July. It is established as the first endowment.
1881Library moves to the Bacon Art and Library Building. University Librarian Rowell, up until now the sole staff member, hires a student assistant who also acts as janitor. Holdings: 17,000-plus volumes. Enrollment: 224 students.
1884University of California Library becomes a depository for U.S. government publications. Rowell initiates the first system of inter-library loan.
October 1884Rowell sends letters to 98 learned societies asking that Berkeley be placed on their mailing lists for complimentary publications. In exchange, the Library would provide cooperating libraries copies of publications produced at Berkeley (before UC Press.)
1890Library holds 44,000 volumes; University Librarian Rowell has one full-time assistant and a student-janitor. Enrollment: 457 students.
1897James K. Moffitt, UC graduate, class of 1886, establishes a book fund to which he commits to depositing $100 per year for the purchase of recent literature.
1898The Library holds 71,000 volumes for 1,560 students.
1900UC Berkeley Library collection is about 80,000 volumes; there are four staff members, and the library serves 1,988 students.
1905The Hubert Howe Bancroft Library is acquired, including 60,000 bound volumes, 10,000 manuscript items, newspaper files, periodicals, transactions of political bodies, early western imprints and rare books, all related primarily to California, western and Spanish America.
1906Bancroft Library survives the 1906 earthquake, and is moved to Berkeley in May, 1906.
1908On Thanksgiving Day, the cornerstone for Doe Library is laid.
1911Library moves from Bacon Hall to new Doe Library (then comprised of 2 floors, 5 floors of stacks and the North Reading Room, with no Annex.) Collection is approx 210,000 volumes, and the campus enrollment is 3,746 students.
1912Doe Library formally dedicated on Charter Day, 1912.
1915UC Berkeley Library holdings reach 300,000 volumes
1916S.C. Kiang Kang-Hu presents the Kiang family's library to the University, described at the time as the 3rd largest Chinese collection in the United States.
1917Floors 3 and 4 added to Doe Library, as were 4 floors of stacks, funded by a state bond passed in 1916. The Library of French Thought, a collection built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, is given to UC by the French government, and opens in its own space in Doe Library.
1919James Cummings Rowell steps down as the first University Librarian after serving for forty-four years, and Harold L. Leupp becomes the second University Librarian. The collection contains over 400,000 volumes. Campus enrollment is 6,983 students.
1922UCB Library collections exceed 500,000 volumes. University Librarian Leupp establishes a "Readers' Department," to coordinate reference and cirulation.
1924The Lange Library of Education opens in Haviland Hall.
1928The Alexander F. Morrison Memorial Library, a recreational reading room for students, is dedicated. It contains an initial gift of 15,000 volumes.
1930UC Berkeley Biology Library is established in the Life Sciences Building. The Giannini Foundation Library is established to serve the needs of the Department of Agricultural Economics.
1943Recommendation is made to the UC President that The Bancroft Library become part of the University Library.
1946UCB Library becomes depository for United Nations documents. Library collections now total 1,236,334. Campus enrollment grows to 18,262.
1947The East Asian Library is established.
1950The Doe Annex is completed. UC Berkeley Library becomes the sixth largest academic library in the country. Campus enrollment balloons to 30,032 students.
1965The Library acquires its 3-millionth volume.
1970James K. Moffitt Undergraduate Library opens.
1971UC Berkeley Library reaches the 4 million volume level.
1978The collections now total more than 5 million volumes.
1988The Library adds its 7-millionth volume.
1994The Library’s collections grow to 8 million volumes. Construction is completed on the Doe/Moffitt Project, a four-story underground addition that connects Doe and Moffitt Libraries. The addition houses the Gardner Stacks, and the collection formerly in Doe. Student workers move more than 1.5 million volumes into the newly completed stacks.
1995The Thomas J. Long Business & Economics Library opens in the Haas School.
2000The 9-millionth volume is added to the Library’s collections.
2004The Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library opens.
2005The Library’s holdings reach 10 million volumes. Campus enrollment reaches 33,000 students.


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