Edward L. Doheny Jr., Memorial LibraryBy Charlotte M. Brown. The Library Journal, November 1, 1932, pp. 894-900
On September 12 the Edward L. Doheny JR., Memorial Library of the University of Southern California was dedicated and the library opened for the use of the students and faculty. The library, costing $1,100,000, is the gift of Edward L. Doheny and family in memory of Edward L. Doheny Jr., who died February 16, 1929.
The very impressive ceremony of the transfer of the key was held in Bovard Auditorium. The builders, P.J. Walker Company, represented by Mr. Fred Walker, passed the golden key to Mr. Samuel E. Lunden, associated architect with Cram and Ferguson of Boston, who presented It to the donor, Edward L. Doheny, whose grandson, Edward L. Doheny III, in turn presented it to the President of the Board of Trustees and from him the key was passed to President R.B. von Kleinsmid of the University.
After the dedicatory address by Mr. Harry Miller Lyndenberg, President of the American Library Association, the academic procession formed and passed across the campus to the door of the library where President von Kleinsmid opened the huge bronze doors and invited the faculty, students and friends to enter.
The building is a steel structure of reinforced concrete, with walls of roman brick and Cordova cream colored limestone trimmed with round arches of colored marbles and conforming to the Romanesque of the other buildings on campus. The main entrance is approached through richly ornamented, hand chased bronze doors. The tympanum above the door has a sculptured medallion which shows three seated figures –a teacher instructing two students. The master reading from a scroll points to the symbols of all knowledge, Alpha and Omega. The soffit above in mosaics represents the zodiac. On either side of the entrance are niches in which are statues of Shakespeare and Dante designed by Andrew Drucelli of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and carved by Joseph Conradi, of Los Angeles, who did sculptured work on the building.
As one enters the main doors he has his first glimpse of the magnificent marble rotunda which is up a short flight of marble stairs. The walls of the entrance and all main corridors are of Vaurion marble. The floors and stairway of Roman Travertine are flanked on all sides by Rojo Alicante marble. As one stands in the center of the rotunda the beauty of various marbles, gorgeous jewel-like fixtures, ceilings of decorated wooden beams and carved corbels with acoustical tile between, richly decorated in gold and color, six art glass windows and a thirteen foot frieze of Porto Santo marble hold you spellbound with the beauty, quiet elegance, harmony of color and richness of materials.
The main delivery desk, of marble, is directly in front of the entrance. The admirable feature was planned to give direct access to the delivery desk and also to the Reserve Book Room which is reached by two short wide marble stairways from the memorial vestibule of the main entrance down to the ground floor. Passing through the corridor to the south wind the Main Reading Room is to the left and is 131 feet long, 46 feet wide and 27 feet high. It accommodates 400 students. It has tall leaded English antique glass windows on three sides and these give the best possible kind of lighting with Venetian blinds softening the glare of the bright sunlight. Beneath the windows are recessed book shelves with a capacity of 6,000 volumes. All woodwork, the large reference desk, tables and chairs are of American walnut. Over and around the entrance is a wide facing of the same wood, hand carved. Above the entrance is a skeleton wall clock with gold hands and figures. The coffered ceiling is of decorated cast acoustical plaster and is a symphony in gold and pastel coloring. Fourteen different printers’ marks form a frieze around the room. Directly back of the reference desk is the reference librarian’s office with a door into the stacks. This allows supervision of students who wish to consult the reference collection.
Across the corridor is the Periodical Reading Room where the current numbers of the periodicals are placed on recessed horizontal shelving. The present periodical capacity is seventeen hundred. This room is finished in American sycamore with tables and chairs to match with the beautiful coffered ceiling of acoustical plaster makes the room one of the most attractive in the building. The seating capacity is eighty. All chairs and tables throughout the building are of distinctive design from the architect’s drawings, and all harmonize with the wood of each room. A charging desk is close to the entrance and back of this is the work space which is a part of the third stack level. There are four tiers of stacks for the bound and unbound periodicals. On the first stack level is the work space for the preparation magazines for the bindery, all binding being done by a commercial library bindery. An automatic dumb waiter and telephone connects all periodical stack levels.
Between the Main Reading Room and the Periodical Room is a small Treasure and Browsing Room 14 by 40 feet. The main feature in this room is the murals done by Samuel Armstrong, the noted mural artist of Santa Barbara. They depict the romance of the printed word. This room is paneled in English oak, carpeted and has luxurious davenports and chairs of the same English oak as the paneling, upholstered in brown leather. Rare books and manuscripts are kept in the glass cases on two walls, and on the open shelved at each end are placed good books for casual reading. No studying is allowed in the room.
To keep the library practical and make it usable and convenient for the library staff, students and faculty was the librarian’s task. For a year she worked over blue prints with the associated local architect and it was a pleasure even if it was hard and tiresome work, and then another year after construction began her eye was every watchful for details that might not look the same in tile and plaster as they did on the drafting board.
At the left of the twenty five foot delivery desk is the card file with space for seventeen hundred recessed card trays. One half of these are installed at present. The spaces between sections have removable panels for future expansion. Over all sections are trough lights which throw the light directly down on the drawers in use. Three consulting tables are placed in this enclosure which contains 750 square feet. All files, charging desks and much of the shelving were furnished by the Library Bureau Department of Remington Rand Business Service.
Across the corridor from the card file is the librarian’s office, entrance to which is through the secretary’s office. The furnishings of these offices are most beautiful. The librarian’s office is paneled in curly redwood, soft green carpet, mahogany Stow Davis office suite of Adam type, damask covered davenport and over-stuffed chairs. Desk chair and visitor’s chars are upholstered in green leather and beautiful imported English hand-blocked linen hangings are at the windows.
The administrative offices and work spaces for the Order, Accessions and Cataloging Departments are most commodious. They are so arranged that each department is directly accessible to the others, the public Catalog Department 1,100 square feet with offices for heads of departments in each.
A Bibliography Room is placed between the Order and Catalog Departments and has a door into the public corridor. This allows the students and faculty to use the bibliographies and reference materials in this room when administrative offices are closed. A mezzanine balcony contains the Library of Congress depository catalog.
Coming back to the delivery desk a few of the distinctive features should be mentioned. Probably every librarian in a college or university library has had a problem of deciding what ruling to make when a student is positive that he returned a book. He states he put it on the desk and does not see why he should be responsible if someone picked it up before it was discharged from his record. To eliminate the possibility of all arguments it was decided to have book chutes in all delivery desks and at the main desk all work of discharging books, looking up records, etc., is done in the work space back of the partition dividing the delivery hall from the stacks. An electric conveyor carries the books from the opening at the end of the charging desk to the work space back of the partition. A book case for new books is placed above the conveyer belt. The delivery desk is flush with the corridor walls and is seven feet from the partition. Sliding doors into the work space make it possible to close the entrance to one door space when necessary or have it open wide at busy times. In this work space is located the Snead automatic book conveyer which distributes books to all stack levels. A Lamson pneumatic tube system connects with each stack level. An annunciator is placed close to the book conveyer and this shows a red light when a page is on duty on any stack level.
The stacks are Snead Standard, a type with open bar type shelves. They are painted light gray and with the closed ends and black enameled shelves make a very attractive appearance. At the end of each stack aisle is a carrel for the use of those wishing to study in the stacks. There are ninety carrels in the seven tiers installed and when the first two tiers are completed the book capacity will be five hundred thousand volumes. The word carrel has been used for the stack “stalls” or “cubicles” as sometimes designated, to distinguish them from the cubicles on the second and third floors. There are forty-eight cubicles which are rooms six by eight feet, each with a window and furnished with a 32 inch flat top desk, swivel chair and one section of book shelving five feet high and a waste basket. These cubicles will be assigned to members of the faculty writing for publication, visiting professors and candidates for the doctor of philosophy degree. Not more than four carrels on each stack level where books are shelved will be assigned.
The second floor is the graduate floor and has three study rooms. The largest is the Education and Psychology Graduate Study Room with a seating capacity of 130. Direct access to the stacks is past the delivery desk. Special research rooms are provided for the master’s theses in education and psychology, which are in constant use, pamphlet material consisting of courses of study, city and state publications used in administrative courses kept in pamphlet boxes and a room for the textbook collection. Across the corridor is the Graduate Study Room, finished is knotty pine. On the open recessed shelves of this room are placed the books assigned for seminar courses. No books are kept in the seminar rooms, but are taken there at the request of the instructor at the time the seminar meets and returned to the study room at the end of the session. This eliminates the necessity of locked seminar rooms and enables assignments of rooms to be made for different classes and does not limit the use of books by having them in rooms being used. There are ten seminar rooms.
In the west wing there is a special exhibition room paneled in African mahogany with furniture and drapes to harmonize. The Graduate Social Sciences Study Room in this wing seats seventy five and has direct access to the stacks past the delivery desk. All work spaces, offices and stacks are provided with lavatory facilities for assistants and pages.
In planning a library building the first consideration in locating study rooms is to consider those to be used by the largest number first. These to be of easiest access. In all modern college and university libraries the use of collateral reading is one of the undergraduate problems. In this library the conditions for this department are ideal. The ground floor which is only three feet below ground level has a study room with a capacity of four hundred. This room, as well as the delivery hall, is wainscoted in Palaccio tile with marble bands. The ceiling of the Reserve Reading Room is decorated Manville acoustical tile. All corridors and ceilings in the building are acoustical plaster.
The stacks for reserve books have a capacity of ten thousand volumes and a partition divides this space from the main stacks at the back. The north end of this stack space provides desks for the head of the department, typist and work table. At the south end the book chute for the return of books, sorting shelves and overdue desk are located. Two cloak rooms are provided for the use of student assistants. The room may be reached from the south by large double doors; from the main entrance on the west down the main stairway; from the north through the cloister or by doors at the end of the room on the east. The delivery desk for the reserve books is in the corridor adjoining the reading room. This desk is forty feet long and is equipped with two electric time stamps for recording the time due on reserve books.
Directly across from the Reserve Reading Room is the Art and Lecture Room, provided with a stage and one hundred and fifty upholstered early American chairs. The walls of this room are wainscoted with curly redwood and hung with rich velour with gold trim. The stage has heavy side curtains of dark crimson velour. In the ceiling are specially designed lights for art exhibits as well as artistic indirect lighting fixtures.
Adjoining this room is a public check room and a curator’s office.
In the north wing of the ground floor is located the Archives Room and staff rooms. The library staff had hopes of a convenient locker room, and perhaps a lunch room, but never dreamed of such luxurious furnishings as have been provided. The dining room furnishings are in early American style, two drop leaf extension tables, two corner cabinets and a dresser, and fifteen chairs all in maple. Adjoining this is the kitchenette, completely equipped with General Electric Hot Point stove, refrigerator and large electric coffee urn. The dishes are cream “Old Holland” Fostoria azure glassware and there is a complete service of table silver for the staff.
The first glimpse that one has of the next room which is the staff lounge causes one to draw a long breath and day “how wonderful”. A truly Colonial room. There is a soft green carpet, exquisite green damask hangings with pale green glass curtains and paneled walls of pure ivory. A real Georgian secretary, Duncan Fyfe sewing cabinet, coffee table, and drop leaf table, two beautiful davenports and lounging chairs as well as several small early American chairs, some in horse-hair upholstering, not to forget the tall mirror and Colonial banjo clock. On this same floor are rooms for University publications, exchanges, a photostat room with adjoining dark room, receiving room and storage rooms. In the basement are the public lavatories, newspaper room, and large storage spaces for unbound periodicals.
The building is well equipped mechanically. There are two public elevators, a freight elevator and book stack service elevator. A chilled water system supplies all drinking fountains. There is hot water in all lavatories and janitor’s closets. The air supplied to the stacks is processed to remove dust without adding moisture and all rooms have a supply and exhaust ventilating washed air system.
Battleship linoleum covers the floors of the Education and Social Sciences Reading Rooms. All other floors are covered with rubber tile except those which are carpeted or of marble.
We have aimed high in hope and work trust that the facilities of administration for making the resources of a great library will be ample and a source of inspiration to all scholars who enter its halls.
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