Why you should be extremely proud of UC Berkeley’s library system

Doe Library Centennial Celebration
Edwin Cho/File

Libraries aren’t exactly exhilarating affairs, but when it comes to our university library system, you have every right to be excited. We all love the imposing architecture of Doe Memorial Library, seen in a number of UC Berkeley students’ Facebook profile pictures, but there are so many more reasons to be proud. Our library system has been part of the campus since the very first class, which took place Sept. 23, 1869, with 10 faculty members and approximately 40 freshmen. It’s been at the heart of UC Berkeley ever since.

“A university is primarily not a place for the parceling out of ready-made knowledge, but for that fresh thinking which results in new knowledge; that it exists not merely for passing on facts, but for showing students how facts are discovered; that it is not a museum in which may be found merely the accumulated wisdom of the past, but that it is a factory humming with industry and turning out the newest wisdom of the day.”

– Robert Gordon Sproul, 11th president of the University of California, in his inaugural address Oct. 22, 1930

A rich history and incredible growth

In 1894, when UC Berkeley had 815 students and 60 faculty, our university library held its 80,000 volumes in the Bacon Art and Library building. Today, we are a campus of more than 36,000 students, and more than 1,600 faculty members, and our libraries hold more than 10 million volumes. The bulk of these volumes are held in Gardner Main Stacks underground between Doe and Moffitt Libraries. Students may be best familiar with the Main Stacks as the library during finals week that’s open 24 hours and that serves as a location for students to partake in Craigslist exchanges to obtain spots to study in the competitive market of study cubicles.

Our special collections are a worldwide attraction

The UC Berkeley library’s collections are the oldest on the West Coast! They have more than 400 special collections famous for their rarity, and they attract scholars and researchers from all over the world. These collections include materials such as maps, manuscripts, rare books, photographs, videos, sound recordings, architectural drawings, ephemera and materials in electronic formats. These materials, mostly located in Bancroft Library, will probably never be more accessible to you than right now, so make sure to take advantage of it and spend some time exploring antiques, first editions and documents dating back to circa 300 B.C., handwritten letters by famous historical figures and a ton of other incredible one-of-a-kind pieces you can’t get your hands on anywhere else.

We hold pieces dating back to about 300 B.C.

The Tebtunis Papyri collection, for instance, contains nearly 35,000 papyrus fragments circa 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. We have medieval manuscripts dating from circa 1000 A.D to 1600 A.D. and more than 400 15th-century classical texts and literature. We have a large collection of 16th- and 17th-century renaissance books by Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther, many early editions from Ben Jonson, Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, works from old Elizabethan and Jacobean writers and an extremely impressive collection of John Milton’s works. We even have some of the works of Galileo and Isaac Newton, Mark Twain’s personal papers, a Bransten Coffee and Tea collection and a collection on tobacco during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It’s a treasure trove: The deeper you dig, the more you find.

We’re killing it on the rankings 

The Association of Research Libraries ranked our library in 2003 as the top public and third overall university library in North America. In 2011-12, we placed seventh on collection expenditure, placed ninth on preservation expenditure and placed first among university libraries. Plus, we’re the fourth-largest research university library in the nation.

Our online library database is boss

The staggering thing is, most of these incredible pieces have been digitally logged or microfilmed. We have 644,000 e-books, 100,000 journals, 1.6 million digital objects, 7.3 million microforms, 111,000 sound recordings and 62,700 video and film recordings. What this means is all you need to do is search for these items via OskiCatDigital Scriptorium and Philobiblon, and you can peruse all you want from the comfort of your couch. Unfortunately, these resources are only available by using your CalNet ID, so use them while you can! Or just never graduate! (Just kidding, there’s a unit cap. Sorry.)

Take your pick — there’s 36 of them

In case you didn’t know, we have 36 separate libraries serving us. To freshen your memory or to help you discover gems that you didn’t know existed, we’ve included the following list of campus libraries. Happy exploring!

Kroeber

Anthropology Library

230 Kroeber Hall

510-642-2400

Doe

Art History/Classics Library

308 Doe Library

510-642-7361

Bancroft

Bancroft Library/University Archives

The Bancroft Library

510-642-6481

Berkeley-law

Berkeley Law Library

Floor 2, Boalt Hall

510-642-4044

Vlsb

Bioscience & Natural Resources Library

2101 Valley Life Sciences Building

510-642-2531

Haasbusiness

Business Library

Haas School of Business

510-642-0400

Tang

Career Counseling Library

2222 Bancroft Way (courtyard of the Tang Center), Berkeley, CA 94720-4300

510-642-2367

Wurster

CED Visual Resources Center

492 Wurster Hall

510-642-3439

Hildebrand

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library

100 Hildebrand Hall

510-642-3753

Doe

Doe Library

Doe Library

510-642-6657

Mccone

Earth Sciences & Map Library

50 McCone Hall

510-642-2997

Eal

East Asian Library

C.V. Starr Library

510-642-2556

Tolman

Education Psychology Library

2600 Tolman Hall

510-642-2475

Bechtel

Engineering Library

110 Bechtel Engineering Center

510-642-3366

Wurster

Environmental Design Archives

280 Wurster Hall

510-642-5124

Wurster

Environmental Design Library

210 Wurster Hall

510-643-7421

Stephens

Ethnic Studies Library

30 Stephens Hall

510-643-1234

Graduate-theological-union-library

Graduate Theological Union Library

2400 Ridge Road

510-649-2500

Irle

Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Library

2521 Channing Way

510-642-1705

Moses

Institute of Governmental Studies Library

109 Moses Hall

510-642-1472

Mclaughlin

Institute of Transportation Studies Library

412 McLaughlin Hall

510-642-3604

Lawrence-berkeley-national-laboratory-library

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Library

email: library@lbl.gov

Moffitt

Library Copy Center (Moffitt)

321 Moffitt Library

510-643-7427

Evans

Mathematics Statistics Library

100 Evans Hall

510-642-3381

Moffitt

Moffitt Library

Includes entrance to Gardner (MAIN) Stacks

510-642-5072

Doe

Morrison Library

101 Doe Library

510-642-3671

Music-library

Music Library

Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library

510-642-2623

Doe

Newspapers & Microforms Library

40 Doe Library

510-642-2975

Northern-regional-library-facility

Northern Regional Library Facility

Richmond Field Station Bldg 400

510-232-7767

Minor

Optometry and Health Sciences Library

490 Minor Hall

510-642-1020

Pacific-earthquake-engineering-research-library

Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center Library

1301 S. 46th Street, Richmond Field Station Building 453

510-665-3419

Pacific-film-archive

Pacific Film Archive Library & Film Study Center

2625 Durant Ave.

510-642-1437

Leconte

Physics-Astronomy Library

351 LeConte Hall

510-642-3122

University

Public Health Library

1 University Hall

510-642-2511

Haviland

Social Research Library

227 Haviland Hall

510-642-4432

Doe

South/Southeast Asia Library

120 Doe Library

510-642-3095

 

Image Sources: List of libraries taken from UC Berkeley Library website

Contact Tala Ram at tram@dailycal.org.

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  • Travis Silvestro

    The UC should allow members of the general public to access this online library! At the very least for the books that are out of circulation and old journal articles. Let our public university be a little bit more public.

    • susankl

      As a California taxpayer, who has supported the University with a lot of $$$ over the decades, I, too, would appreciate access to this fabulous resource.

  • ridgebac

    Yes as a Cal Alumnus (1972) the library is fantastic but it has failed
    alumni. We are unable to use the library resources from home on the WEB. As if
    learning stopped once we obtained our degrees and shuffled off into the
    world. Until such time as the jewels of the library are opened without
    fees to alumni Cal will have failed fully in its mission to provide the
    necessary tools for a superb education. All the fancy Dan Deans,
    Chancellors, Presidents and cadre of those making 6 figure incomes and
    other exorbitantly paid administrators have not shown they are educators
    rather than administrivia that like black hole suck in energy but
    emit virtually nothing.
    There is plenty of money in the Cal system to fix this and other problems but it would seem little will to do anything about it.

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