CPP’s books have had an adventure all their own

By Andrea Jimenez

“A lot of students think everything is on the internet now, so you don’t need the library,” said Nancy Daugherty, reference, instruction and collection services staff member and Cal Poly Pomona alumna. “Librarians have gone from being the ‘shush’ person who shelves books to now being an information navigator. I like to tell my classes ‘librarians don’t know everything but we know where to find it and we can help them become ‘power researchers.'”

The library is used as a place to study, research, read, and hang out, but CPP’s University Library has done quite a bit of traveling since its debut in 1938 at its former site at the Voorhis School for Boys in San Dimas.

Charles Voorhis donated the Voorhis campus to Julian McPhee, who was the president of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The Voorhis campus would serve as the southern brand of CPSLO.

There was only one small room at the San Dimas campus that would house the campus library which measured 33 feet by 48 feet and could only seat 48 students.

In the meantime, CPP was making a home for itself as a university. By 1956, the facilities in San Dimas became inadequate and CPP moved to its current site in Pomona.

That summer, over 8,000 volumes of books were transported to Building 3 which functions as the Science Laboratory today.

Building 3 was one of the very first buildings to be built on campus and in that respect, it served many purposes. Not only did it fill three rooms of books and set its precedence as the temporary library, but it also served many other purposes including student administration.

“If I remember correctly, it was faculty offices, classrooms and I think even a bookstore too,” said Erickson Library Assistant for Special Collections. “Building 3 was the ‘everything’ building.”

It was evident that as the student population grew, the library would also grow and would need its own facility.

Three years later, in 1959, the first library was in Building 5 which today is the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

The collection had grown to 16,584 volumes and, within five years, the volume count reached 63,138. Three years later the library outgrew Building 5.

Building 5 became inadequate and in winter of 1968 the new CPP University Library building was ready, the new facility came with a price tag of $4.2 million.

“We moved from old Building 5, [and] moved our book trucks, the entire collection which was only four stories,” said “It took about a month to transfer all the books and then they had to re-shelve everything.”

The four-story structure was designed to allow for the later addition of two stories to accommodate future growth. It took more than 1,000 students, faculty and library staff to move 150,000 books, furnishings and equipment to the new building.

During the building’s remodel, it faced some weather complications.

“After a particularly bad rainstorm (we had just added two additional floors in 1989 making a total of 6 floors) – they must not have sealed the new roof completely because when we came into work, inside the building it was like Hawaii – there were rivers or waters falls raining out of the light fixtures so we had to move or cover all the books,” said Daugherty.

To preserve the books’ integrity from the rain, faculty put the books in nearby freezers.

“We filled almost every freezer within a 20 mile radius,” said Daugherty. “You freeze books to minimize the water damage.”

In 1989, the library celebrated a half century of growth with the University and the six-story Library was dedicated on Sep. 18. During the ceremony the 500,000 volume, “Ansel Adams: Letters and Images,” was officially added to the Library’s collection.

“Then we got money in early 2006 to add an addition to the library [which] is the beautiful facility you now see,” said Daugherty.

The new addition is the current entrance students use every day. Over the years the building has undergone many reconstruction phases and the Library has grown quite a bit since then.

In the past 75 years the Library has evolved from one room with 48 seats to a modern learning facility with 2.4 million books, microfilms, maps and over 3,000 periodicals and 2,800 online journals and databases.

Today the Library has a staff of 15 librarians who are specifically trained for different areas. The Library has expanded to a 24-hour lab with 78 accessible computer stations, a Special Events Room, a Special Collections (archives), six classrooms, two information literacy laboratories and a Starbucks.

“Some people call [the Library] just a meeting hall or study hall, but I think it’s more than that in a lot of ways,” said Erickson. “It’s kind of the central pulse for the campus.”


Nathan Guerard/The Poly Post

CPP’s books have had an adventure all their own

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