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PSE Library is currently CLOSED until February 1, 2020 for asbestos abatement and fire sprinkler installation.

This page provides updates and background on the campus’s project to convert two floors of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library (PSEL) into space for the UC Davis Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP).

  • Floors 2 and 3 are no longer open to the public.
  • First floor and lower level remain open (excepting a temporary closure, which is now in effect – see below), and additional study seats have been added at Shields.
  • To find print materials that were formerly housed on floors 2 and 3, please search our online catalog ( to find their new location.

Routine construction updates are suspended during the temporary closure. See below for past updates on construction-related impacts and background on the project. For real-time updates on construction noise and other impacts, follow @UCDavisLibrary or #PSELtoday on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Questions or comments?

Please contact us at

In This Page

Temporary Closure ● Construction Update Summary  ● FAQ  Collection Shift

To allow for asbestos abatement, the installation of fire sprinklers on the first floor and lower level, and duct-work in the first-floor lobby, the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library is CLOSED to all patrons and library personnel until February 1, 2020. For safety reasons, no one is able to enter the facility.

PSEL had been scheduled to reopen on September 23 in time for Fall Quarter. However, we were recently informed that due to a number of unforeseen construction, inspection and permitting issues, we will not be able to reopen PSEL until February 1. Deans and Department Chairs for the most directly impacted disciplines will be alerted of this change.

  • If you have a book checked out: The due date for books currently checked out from PSEL that would otherwise be due this summer have now been extended to September 23. Books may be returned to Shields Library during the closure.
  • If you need a book: During the closure, library personnel will not have access to the print collections at PSEL. We have relocated key titles to another location so we can get to them — the library catalog will reflect their temporary locations — and we will provide access to other needed items from other UC library collections or via interlibrary loan as necessary. While we anticipate comparatively little demand on the collection during the Summer Sessions based on data from past years, we recognize that every need is important and will do our best to provide alternatives. During the summer, for help with items affected by the closure, please contact (for reference) or (for circulation).

If you have general questions regarding the temporary summer closure, please contact Rice Majors, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources, at .

Routine construction updates are suspended during the temporary closure. 

We will update this section regularly with information about construction-related noise or other impacts that may affect users of the first floor and lower level of PSEL as those details become available. Please also check the whiteboard in the lobby for real-time updates when you arrive.

Update as of Friday, August 16:

  • Temporary closure will remain in effect until February 1, 2020. Campus Design and Construction Management recently informed us that due to a number of unforeseen construction, inspection and permitting issues, we will not be able to reopen PSEL until February 1.

Update as of Friday, June 14:

  • Temporary summer closure is now in effect. PSEL is now completely closed (see above) to accommodate fire sprinkler installation and extensive above-ceiling hazmat abatement. PSEL will reopen on September 23, in time for the start of Fall Quarter.
  • Bike path construction: Construction of a new bike path south of PSEL is underway and will last several more weeks. Demolition of existing concrete pavement and asphalt work at the southwest corner has begun. Fencing west of PSEL has been temporarily expanded to accommodate the project, creating narrower access to PSEL from the Lot 3 Parking area; please use the concrete ADA ramps and stairs leading into the neighboring Physics building as an alternative access route.
  • Air handling unit shutdown: The building’s air handling unit was shut down on April 30, and will be offline for 12-16 weeks to accommodate the installation of a new roof-mounted HVAC system. During this time, the existing HVAC system will be dismantled. Two large portable air conditioning units have been installed on the first floor and are currently running. Due to typically cooler temperatures on the lower level, an additional unit for the lower level may not be required, but can be deployed if temperatures become a concern.
  • Roof work: The concrete curb to accommodate the the incoming HVAC system has been installed. New duct-work, roof drains, hydronic piping and roof patching are still in progress.
  • Renovation of the 2nd and 3rd floors for use by QMAP is underway and will continue for the next few months.
  • Exterior: Concrete lift and retaining wall installation, waterproofing and back-filling continues.

In fall 2018 through summer 2019, a campus-directed project was launched to convert the second and third floors of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library (PSEL) into prototype space for cross-unit collaborations – with the tenant in this case being the UC Davis Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP), an interdisciplinary initiative to explore fundamental questions about how the universe works. The first floor and lower level of PSEL remain library space. At the same time, the entire building is undergoing a seismic retrofit, accessibility improvements and renovation of its fire suppression system.

In preparation, the library transferred all volumes previously housed on PSEL’s second and third floors to other locations including: Shields Library, the UC’s Regional Library Storage Facilities (RLFs) and Better World Books. (The only books being donated to Better World Books are duplicates of books already held at the RLF.)

The library works to be a positive contributor to the needs and priorities of the campus, including space for students and faculty, while fulfilling our responsibility to provide access to scholarly information resources. Throughout this project, we have remained committed to:

  • Continuing to excel in meeting library obligations to provide high quality collections for research and teaching, both during and after the shift;
  • Being open to feedback and input from faculty and all other affected stakeholders;
  • Transparency in our actions and decisions; and
  • Communicating effectively with all affected by this project.


Historical information about the collection shift.

What is happening at the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library (PSEL)?

In response to a campus request, the second and third floors of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library are being converted into prototype space for interdisciplinary, cross-unit collaborations, with the tenant in this case being the UC Davis Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP). At the same time, the entire building is undergoing a seismic retrofit, accessibility improvements and renovation of its fire suppression system.

What happened to the books and journals that were housed on the second and third floors of PSEL?

Balancing the library’s mission to ensure that faculty, researchers and students have ready access to the materials they need most, with the constraints of finite shelf space for physical collections is one of the library’s fundamental ongoing responsibilities. The library, informed by years of experience in managing that process, developed the following general criteria to guide the work of relocating materials from floors 2 and 3 of PSEL:

  • Recently published and highly used materials were moved to Shields Library, including:
    • Books with high use or published within the last 10 years
    • Journals with current subscriptions (current year and most recent 10 years)
    • Geology maps
  • Older materials were moved to the UC’s Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF) in Richmond, CA, if copies were not already there. NRLF is a secure, climate-controlled facility designed to preserve physical collections; requested items are typically available on campus within two working days. These materials include:
    • Older books
    • Older issues of journals with current subscriptions; journals we no longer subscribe to; and those that have ceased publication
  • Older books that were already at NRLF were donated to Better World Books, an organization that provides books to literacy programs and needy libraries around the world. Better World Books is a common recipient when university libraries have duplicate copies of books their collections.
  • Since Better World Books does not accept journals, some duplicate, older titles that were already available at NRLF or online were withdrawn, following normal library collection management guidelines.

What opportunities were offered for faculty input into the process?

The library solicited faculty input about this process in a variety of ways, particularly from the colleges and departments that most frequently use these collections: the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division within the College of Letters and Science; the College of Engineering; Institute of Transportation Studies; and the department of Land, Air and Water Resources. The library actively reached out to these departments to discuss the project and how to moderate its potential impact on their faculty, researchers and students. See the section on Guidelines and Input for details. 

During the first six months of the project (September 2017 – February 2018), UC Davis faculty were also invited to nominate specific titles that should be transferred to the Peter J. Shields Library. Faculty are also invited suggest potential purchases for the library collection at any time via

How can I get access to the physical sciences and engineering collections that have been moved?

Please search our online catalog ( to determine whether the materials are now housed at Shields or the NRLF or available online. If the book or journal is at NRLF, click the Interlibrary Request link and enter your UC Davis CAS credentials or your library card number to request it.

You can request the entire print volume or a PDF of individual chapter(s) or other parts. Print volumes are typically available from the Circulation Desk at Shields within two working days. PDFs will be delivered via email. You also have the option to use materials onsite at the NRLF in Richmond.

If a particular book or journal cannot be found by searching our catalog, faculty are invited to suggest it for acquisition by the library via this form.

What will happen with the first floor and lower level of PSEL?

Other than the seismic retrofit, accessibility improvements and fire suppression system renovation noted above and implemented throughout the building, there are no changes to the first floor and lower level planned at this time.

How much study space was lost, and what other study spaces remain available for students who studied or conducted research on floors 2 and 3 of PSEL?

The study space on the second and third floors of PSEL included 230 seats at tables and carrels. To compensate for that lost space, the library and campus are working together to add more than 300 seats of new study space at Shields before Fall Quarter begins.

The 80 seats on the first floor and lower level of PSEL will also remain available, except for potential temporary closures during the project as construction requires. To make this space available to as many students as possible, space on the lower level of PSEL that was previously “on loan” to the Chemistry Department for TA office hours has now been re-designated as general study space seating (see below).

What about the space on the lower level that was being used for office hours by Chemistry TAs?

In the past, the library had an agreement with the Chemistry Department that permitted their TAs to use space on the lower level of PSEL for office hours. To make more study space available to all students, this arrangement ended in June 2018. Any Chemistry students with questions about where TA office hours will take place going forward should contact the department.

Did this project have any impact on ongoing acquisition of information resources for physical sciences and engineering?

None whatsoever. The project did not affect or change current journal subscriptions or established library purchasing or acquisition plans.

What is Better World Books?

The library donated approximately 24,000 items to Better World Books (BWB) for resale to needy institutions. All of these items were duplicates of books already held at the Northern Regional Library Facility and NRLF does not accept duplicates. The alternative to donating them was discarding them.

Better World Books is a certified B Corporation. These are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Specifically, for every book sold, Better World Books donates a book. Learn more about their literacy partners and literacy grants they support.  To date they have donated more than 25 million books to these organizations and raised nearly $27 million for literacy and libraries. See where these donations go.

Better World Books has been a partner to the academic research library community for many years, and hundreds of U.S. libraries, including many of the UC Libraries, are working with them. We consider them a truly exemplary company.

Couldn’t the library have a book sale for unneeded items?

As the library has necessarily removed books and other materials to make room for new and/or more needed material, we used to offer them for sale to the community. That proved to be quite expensive and almost no books were ever purchased, so we discontinued that practice in favor of working with Better World Books (see above) rather than throwing away unpurchased items. We have no plans to reinstate books sales at this time, and know of very few other academic research libraries that have continued that practice.


For additional information on the collection shift completed for the this project see:

Collection Shift: PSE Library QMAP Renovations and Seismic Retrofit