PSE Library QMAP Renovations and Seismic Retrofit

PSE Library is CLOSED and all collections have been permanently relocated.

Collections: Once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the remaining materials from PSEL will be reviewed and high-use materials will be integrated into the collection at Shields Library, those that are used less frequently will be sent to the UC’s Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF), and those already held at NRLF will be made available at a book giveaway to interested members of the UC Davis community.

This page provides updates and background on the campus’s project to convert floors 2 and 3 of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library (PSEL) into space for the UC Davis Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP).

  • To find print materials that were formerly housed at PSEL, please search our online catalog ( to find their new location.

Due to the extended closure of the building, routine construction updates are no longer being provided. See below for background on the project.

Questions or comments?

Please contact us at

In This Page

2019/20 Closure ● Construction Update Summary  ● FAQ  Collection Shift

The Physical Sciences and Engineering Library was CLOSED to all patrons and library personnel beginning in June 2019 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. Due to unforeseen construction, inspection and permitting delays, that construction is ongoing.

  • If you need a book: The library has relocated all collections. The library catalog reflects the current location of all materials.
  • If you have a book checked out: The due date for books that were checked out from PSEL has been extended during the public health crisis. Books may be returned through book drops at Shields Library or elsewhere on campus.
  • Study space: When the construction project began in 2018, the library partnered with campus to add more seating at Shields Library. We were able to compensate for most of the study space lost at PSEL, and we continue to look for ways to support this ongoing student need.

We and the campus are keenly aware of the disruption this construction delay will cause, and are working closely together to minimize the inconvenience to faculty, researchers and students.


  • For questions about how to access materials formerly housed in PSEL, contact Rice Majors, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources.
  • For general questions related to the project, contact William Garrity, Deputy University Librarian and Chief Operating Officer.

Routine construction updates have been suspended. The last update was posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2019:

  • The library was notified in September that due to a number of unforeseen construction, inspection and permitting issues, the building must remain closed longer than initially anticipated. In light of this extended closure, the library has permanently removed all collections from PSEL. See above for more information about the extension of the closure and how to access books formerly located at PSEL. 

In fall 2018, 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 donated to Better World Books were 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 at 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 the building:

  • 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. Click here 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, future uses of the first floor and lower level are under discussion.

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 worked together to add more than 300 seats of new study space at Shields in 2018.

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