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Santa Barbara: Libraries

Early Origins
The library first acquired a separate identity in 1913 when the Santa Barbara State Normal School moved to the Riviera campus; in 1914 it possessed 3,294 volumes. Manual arts, home economics and teacher training materials, reflecting the normal school curriculum of the time, predominated. Many were gifts of Miss Adeline Mills, the school's first notable donor, who also contributed furniture to the library room.

In 1913, the library assumed a more general character with the gift of two private collections, the library of Ellwood and Sarah Cooper, and the Roxana Lewis Dabney Memorial Collection. Growth continued slowly to World War II; in 1929, there were 18,000 volumes, in 1939, 30,000. When the state college became a campus of the University in 1944 there were some 40,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals.

After World War II
With the addition of temporary wooden buildings, the library survived the veteran enrollment surge after World War II, and operated an industrial arts branch library on the Mesa Campus until that campus site was turned over to the city of Santa Barbara in 1957. When the Santa Barbara campus moved to the present location in 1954, the library began a new era in its own building, one of the first two permanent structures to rise on the new seashore campus. Doubled in size in the spring of 1962, the library by 1965 was again crowded with students and began storing thousands of volumes in temporary buildings, awaiting construction of the eight-story University library building scheduled for completion in 1967.

With substantial state support the library doubled its holdings twice since 1958 when it was given the mission of ultimately serving a full spectrum of advanced studies for a general campus. Gifts to the library ranged from single items such as a copy of the Coverdale Bible (1535) presented by C. Pardee Erdman to the complete American Journal of Science from its commencement in 1819, the gift of geologist A. I. Levorsen; especially noteworthy was the Hammond library presented by Mrs. MacKinley Helm. Frank H. Ball, second president of the school, presented his industrial arts library of some 2,000 volumes to the library upon his retirement in 1918. Scholarly libraries acquired by purchase and gift have included Tocqueville scholar J. Peter Mayer's 13,000 volumes on European political science and sociology; the Printers Collection of Hobart Skofield; the anthropology collection willed by Professor Norman Gabel; the geological libraries of W. S. W. Kew and Theo Crook; the library of sociologist Kimball Young; several Hispanic and Latin American collections--notably that of Professor Roland D. Hussey, the Professor Hertzmann music collection, and the Near Eastern archaeological library of Dr. Erich Schmidt.

Special Collections
Organized as a separate department in 1962, special collections grew initially with gifts from Santa Barbara residents and scholars: early botanical works by California horticulturalist Ellwood Cooper; first editions of 19th century Americans such as Longfellow, Whittier and Emerson from the Roxana Lewis Dabney Memorial of 1913; along with other works which recalled the early curriculum of the school. A major impetus was the post-war acquisition of large author collections: the MacKinley Helm gift of Henry James and Matthew Arnold was followed by the formation of comprehensive collections of Huxley, Beckett, Kipling, Wells, Coleridge and Edmund Burke. The bloc purchase, as well, of private libraries devoted to the Colombian novel, to 18th century English and French political pamphlets, exemplified the library policy of acquiring rare materials when needed in support of academic programs.

The most widely known gift to come to the library in state college days was the William Wyles Collection on Lincoln, the Civil War, and Westward Expansion. Later deeded (1946) by Mr. Wyles to the Santa Barbara campus of the University, together with a trust fund, this collection grew steadily and later numbers 16,000 volumes and manuscripts and was a well-known center for studies in the Civil War period.

Librarians

Natalie L. Beach 1913-1914
Nellie E. Scholes 1914-1919
Aldine Winham 1919-1926
Katharine F. Ball 1926-1947
Donald C. Davidson 1947-

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Last updated 06/18/04.