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 The Library opened its doors to the inaugural class of University of California, Merced students in August 2005. From the beginning, the library has been the hub of the campus and a center for technology. From the highly social first floor Lantern with its own café, to the elegant silence of the McFadden-Willis reading room on the fourth floor, the library building provides a variety of spaces and services to meet the needs of our campus community.


 But the story of the library begins long before the opening of the UC Merced campus. Visionary librarians and campus leaders conceived and designed the library as a place that would be environmentally friendly, aesthetically appealing and scalable to accommodate the rapid growth of the newest University of California campus. Touted as "Not what other research libraries are, what they will be," the library has emerged as a leader in innovation and efficiency.

 Since the campus and library first opened, the student population on has grown nearly six-fold. The modern design of the library and the innovative use of resources has helped the library to accommodate this rapid growth even in the absence of adequate new funding. These changes within the library reflect the story of our maturing campus.

  • -- Additional seating as well as study pods for collaborative work have been added on several floors
  • -- A second high-tech classroom used primarily for library classes is now available for instruction
  • -- Eight additional staffers and two librarians have been added to our ranks
  • -- Our physical and virtual collections have grown to support new faculty and programs
  • -- Our state-of-the-art wireless network has been upgraded to support the explosion of laptops and mobile devices on campus
  • -- Collaborative workrooms have gone from first-come-first-served to an online reservation system
  • -- Digital signage is now available throughout the library to promote library resources, services and events, as well as campus news and information

 As our campus population of students, faculty, and staff grows each year, the library continues to provide them with information resources that equal those available on our older UC sister campuses. Providing access to print and online collections is one way that the UC Merced Library supports teaching and research on campus. In addition, UC Merced librarians provide individual research assistance to students, faculty, and staff via email, web pages, chat services, social media, and face-to-face consultations.

 The Library has placed a high emphasis on the development of digital collections that are pertinent to, or the product of, research conducted by faculty at UC Merced. Instead of purchasing physical objects to go into a limited-access special-collections room, the Library has applied its command of technology along with its intellectual capital to digitizing information resources and making them freely available to the world via the World Wide Web. Early on, the Library used a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to create hundreds of digitized images of unique works of Japanese art belonging to the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art at the Clark Center in Hanford, California. High quality images of these artworks, enhanced with searchable metadata, are available to anyone with an internet connection. Another example is the Library's collaboration with the Malki Museum in Banning, CA to digitize the complete run of the Journal of California Anthropology, the only journal entirely devoted to California anthropology, and make it freely available through the California Digital Library's eScholarship Repository. In 2011, the Library digitized the Henry O. Nightingale diaries. Nightingale was a soldier in the Union army from 1862-1864; his 1865 diary contains a firsthand account of Abraham Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre. These ongoing digitization projects are part of the library's vision for improving access to the world's scholarship.

 Only the passage of time will tell to what extent the UC Merced Library has achieved its goal of leading research libraries into the new century. It is likely that the record will be one of success mixed with failure, as predicting the future is a difficult game at best. Still, it seems only right that the library of the first research university of the Twenty-First Century should, like the young campus it serves, start with its eye on the future instead of the past, taking the risky path of leading the way instead of the safer one of following behind. To have to goal not of being what research libraries are, but of what they will be.


News Article

"First LEED-certified campus naturally puts users first"
A customer story on the University of California, Merced by Steelcase Inc. View the PDF for the complete story with photographs.

Special Friends

Read more on those individuals who have been influential in shaping the Kolligian Library.


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