History of the UC San Diego Library Collections

Note: In 2013, the discipline-based libraries and collections were consolidated.

Arts Library

In the early 1970's, the music and art collections, including books, journals, audio holdings and scores were relocated on the 4th floor of the Central University Library (now Geisel). Two decades later in the early 1990’s the Art & Architecture Library, including the slide collection (formerly located in Mandeville) was founded following the completion of the west wing addition to the Geisel Library and the establishment of the School of Architecture.  At the same time the music collection evolved into the Music Library, finding a new home in the west wing addition featuring a climate controlled closed stack area for audio materials and enhanced on-site audio delivery facilities. In the mid 1990’s the Media Center’s Film and Video collection and the former Undergraduate Library (now CLICS) Playback service unit were transferred to the Geisel Library to be administered within the Arts Libraries. At that time a new service point, Film & Video Reserves was established to support increasing patron use of film format materials.  In July 2008, fulfilling a long term goal to fully merge the collections, services and facilities of the Art & Architecture Library and the Music, Film & Video Library, the UCSD Arts Library was established.

The Arts Library’s collections mirror and support the curricular strengths within the arts and humanities programs at UCSD, including but not limited to film, music, the visual arts, and theatre and dance. Holdings include over half-a-million items including books, periodicals, and music scores, with a full range of reference tools and digital resources such as ARTstor (images) and the Database of Recorded American Music (streaming audio).  Various media collections, including sound (LP, CD, tape), digital image, and moving image materials (video, DVD, 16mm film) have been developed as essential resources for study in the arts and humanities.  Collections of distinction include experimental art films, 20th and 21st century art music recordings and scores, post-1950 visual arts, and new media. The Arts Library was an early adopter in providing digital media reserves for the UCSD campus.

Biomedical & Medical Center Libraries

The Biomedical Library dates back to January of 1963; its first home was in “the Humanities Library Building,” in Galbraith Hall. The original Biomedical Library building, designed by the late architect Robert E. Alexander, opened in 1969.  The original director of the Biomedical Library was Robert F. Lewis, who retired in 1982.  He was followed by Mary Horres (1984-1998) and Susan Starr (1998-2007).  In January, 2005, a major expansion and renovation project almost doubled the size of the existing building. The facility now provides the technological infrastructure to support active use of biomedical information and a well designed space to house UCSD’s biomedical collections. In addition, the new Biomedical Library features a variety of environments that facilitate both quiet reflection and active group study and the building is characterized by a flexible design that will support biomedical information needs for years to come.

The present location and facility for the Medical Center Library in Hillcrest opened on June 2, 1981. The facility occupies 7,100 assignable square feet. Previously the library had been housed in space designed as a physicians' lounge occupying 3,255 net square feet on the third floor of the hospital. As a branch of the Biomedical Library (BML) on the main campus in La Jolla, the Medical Center Library’s collections and services complement the BML’s. Indeed, MCL’s collections are singular in their focus on clinical medicine--providing unique monographic and journal titles in the areas of nursing, allied health, healthcare administration and consumer health.  Over the years, the Medical Center Library’s services and facilities have expanded and evolved to accommodate the emphasis on electronic learning and online access to resources. The facility now includes 2 computer rooms: One for instruction and training and the other for providing scanning and other digital media services.

CLICS: Center for Library & Instructional Computing Services

In 1971, after the university library moved into the newly built Central University Library (now Geisel), the UC San Diego Libraries established a library in Galbraith Hall named Cluster I. Originally each of the colleges was to have its own Cluster Library, however that proposition proved costly. Instead, following a nationwide trend of creating libraries on university campuses designated specifically for undergraduates, the UC San Diego Libraries converted Cluster I into an Undergraduate Library.

As a result of a full building renovation to Galbraith Hall in 1998, the UC San Diego Libraries partnered with campus Academic Computing Services to convert the Undergraduate Library into a computer lab and library instruction services unit. In 2000, the new facility was christened CLICS: Center for Library & Instructional Computing Services. The Undergraduate Library collections were distributed among the other campus libraries, and collection managers and subject specialists were responsible for developing collections geared specifically for the undergraduates at each of the libraries. CLICS currently houses a modest reference collection closely tied to the colleges’ writing program assignments, a small leased fiction and non-fiction popular reading collection, and a small collection of popular magazine titles.

IR/PS: International Relations & Pacific Studies Library and the East Asia Collection

The establishment of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies coincided with the opening of the IR/PS Library in 1987, and resulted in rapid growth and development of the East Asia Collection. In 1988, the University Librarian, Dorothy Gregor, and Associate University Librarian, George Soete, made a strategic decision to split the East Asia Collection at UCSD into two distinct but administratively united collections: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) materials in economics, business, contemporary political science, and international relations would form the IR/PS Library Collection and the CJK materials in social sciences and humanities would form the separate East Asia Collection remaining in the Central University Library (now Geisel).

In February 1990, the IR/PS Library moved into its new building at the newly completed IR/PS Graduate School complex with its collection in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean inter-shelved in the stacks. When the Central University Library (now Geisel) completed a major expansion project in 1991, the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language materials in social sciences and humanities were consolidated from the general stacks and other branch libraries to form the nucleus of the East Asia Collection. This collection of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean materials is housed on the 4th floor of the Tower.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

For an institution established as recently as 1960, UCSD has developed special collections of remarkable depth and diversity. Currently consisting of more than 250,000 books, over 500 manuscript collections, the UCSD Archives, and a multitude of items in a variety of other formats, Special Collections from its inception has worked cooperatively with UCSD faculty to build collections that support UCSD academic programs.

UCSD places great emphasis on all things related to the Pacific, for example, and MSCL has developed the most extensive collection on pre-1850 voyages of exploration and discovery to the Pacific, the renowned Hill Collection. Extensive holdings on California history and culture, Baja California history and politics, and the anthropology and ethnography of Melanesia also contribute to the strength of the Pacific collections. Modern Spain has been a traditional focus of UCSD historians, and MSCL holds the largest extant collection on the Spanish Civil War. With contemporary American poetry a longstanding interest of the literature department, MSCL boasts the Archive for New Poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse. Through its holdings of unique personal and professional papers, MSCL is also exceptionally strong in twentieth-century science, a natural field for a university that has built its reputation on excellence in the sciences. Other areas of collecting strength include artists’ books; high altitude medicine and physiology; San Diego and border studies; culinary history of the American Southwest, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim; Western mining; early meteorology; and Chicano activism.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library began shortly after the founding of Scripps in 1903, becoming well-established by the time a dedicated library building was built on the Scripps campus in 1916. Scripps Library was the only academic science library in San Diego for decades. The postwar expansion in oceanographic research increased demand for library materials, and Scripps Library collection grew considerably as a result.

After establishment of UCSD, Scripps Library discontinued as an administrative entity at Scripps, and served as a staging area for the founding of the UCSD Libraries. During this period, Scripps Library was essentially the UCSD Libraries, ceasing as a separate entity, and re-emerging as a branch library of the UCSD Libraries some years later. As part of the UCSD Libraries and in context with other collections on campus, the Scripps Library collection has focused on collecting in marine and earth sciences and supporting materials. It is a University of California Systemwide resource library for oceanography, and is the largest marine science library in the world.

Science & Engineering Library

S&E began building its collection in 1959 and was housed within the SIO Library until 1963, when it moved into Urey Hall in Revelle College.  In 1993, S&E moved to the East wing of the Geisel Library to be closer to the newly relocated School of Engineering.  Though a planned Chemistry-Physics Library in Urey Hall never materialized, S&E developed an innovative program to delivery of articles electronically to researchers in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics and Mathematics departments, thereby mitigating the effects of the move.  The S&E facility has been remodeled in the past few years, and the physical space offers a mix of print and fiche collections, student computer labs, group study and instructional rooms, while continuing to stay abreast of new technologies as the libraries offer greater resources online.

S&E contains over 260,000 volumes, 390,000 fiche technical reports, and has access to over 3200 physical sciences and engineering electronic journals and article indexes to support the research and instructional needs of the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Division of Physical Sciences, and their affiliated centers and institutes.  The S&E collection also supports the scientific and mathematical needs of other UCSD disciplines with an extensive collection in chemistry, computer science, physics, mathematics and statistics.  Much of the history of science collection is housed here along with a growing collection in mathematics and science education.   Other interdisciplinary areas co-supported by S&E and BML included bioinformatics, biochemistry, and bioengineering.  Expertise in numerical scientific and engineering data resources is a hallmark of S&E.

Social Sciences & Humanities Library

Before SSHL moved into the new Central University Library building (later Geisel) in 1970, the “main” library had migrated over the years from SIO (1969-63), Urey Hall (1963-65), and the Humanities-Library building (1965-70). In the early years of the Library, emphasis was on building physical print book collections. More recently, as space becomes in increasingly short supply, and as we are in the midst of a transition to online resources, SSHL is transferring portions of the print collections to off-site storage facilities.

SSHL contains over 1.5 million volumes in the collections to serve increasingly interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research within and beyond the social sciences and humanities. In addition, SSHL has collections of U.S. government documents, publications from the State of California, the City of San Diego, and the European Union, maps, magazines and scholarly journals, microform, and provides specialized services for reference, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and data. Collection strengths include Melanesian and Latin American area studies, and resources on the Spanish Civil War.