In 1908, the library of the Davis campus began as a single room monitored by the stenographer/bookkeeper of the University Farm Creamery. It housed bulletins and textbooks, and the books sent from the main library at Berkeley. In the years before World War I, the librarian also served as registrar for the Farm and occasionally taught English. In 1924, the Library occupied two rooms on the first floor, west end of the Classroom Building and housed 1,840 titles, mostly bulletins, circulars and reports from the U.S.D.A.

In 2008, the University Library of the Davis campus occupies four buildings — Shields Library, Physical Science and Engineering Library, Carlson Health Sciences Library, and Blaisdell Medical Library — and holds more than 3 million titles. Over the last one hundred years, librarians and library staff have created an academic resource that has served the campus, the larger academic community, and the general public.

Over the course of a century the UCD University Library has grown from a ready reference collection for farmers and scientists to a world-class research library, with more than 3 million volumes covering a wider range of disciplines and programs than any other campus in the UC system.
1908
1913
1915
1916
1922
1924
1925
  • Formal arrangement for the ordering of books on approval was established.
  • Periodicals room was opened.
  • Reserve book system was set up.
1926
1932
  • Art reproductions lent by the California State Library to decorate the Library walls.
1938
1940
1943
1948
1950
1951
1955
  • New stack addition built.
1956
  • Veterinary Medicine Library was established in room next to the Dean’s office in Haring Hall.
1957
  • Library course in bibliographic research offered.
  • Food Technology holdings were transferred from UC Berkeley to Davis.
1958
1959
1961
1964
1965
  • Rare books were transferred from Loan Desk to Reference Department.
  • Library Associates formed.
1966
1967
1968
1969
  • Library became a member of the Association of Research Libraries.
1970
1971
1972
  • Remote Searching of Medline database was operational in Health Sciences Library.
1973
1974
1975
  • Library held 1.2 million volumes.
1976
1977
1978
  • Library held 1.5 million volumes.
1979
  • Biological/Agricultural Sciences Reference Department was established.
  • Acquisition of Gary Snyder’s papers began.
1980
  • UC Davis became a member of the Research Libraries Group.
1981
  • Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center became part of the University Library.
  • Conservation and Preservation Department created.
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
  • Ground-breaking ceremonies are held for west wing of Peter J. Shields Library.
  • Automated acquisitions system (Innopac) was installed.
1989
1990
1991
  • Automated public catalog system (DRA) was installed.
  • “American Farm” exhibit was acquired. The photographic panels that decorate the walls of Shields Library were an exhibit originally mounted by the California Historical Society.
  • Chinese Cookbooks collection was acquired.
1994
1996
1998
  • The British Women Romantic Poets Project began to identify and make accessible on the Internet the works of women poets. The Kohler Collection served as the main source for texts by women poets writing between 1789 and 1832.
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2005
2006
2007
2008

Images (unless otherwise credited) are the property of the Regents of the University of California; no part may be reproduced or used without permission of the Department of Special Collections.

Technology has always played an important part in the UC Davis library and on the UC Davis campus. Technology underpins how library materials are acquired, preserved and made accessible to users. For much of the last century, library technology remained static and paper-based. With the advent of computers and the Internet, technology has radically changed how library staff and the campus use the library. Discover how technology has changed in the UC Davis library over the past century, from paper card catalogs to the Next-Generation Melvyl pilot and state-of-the-art instruction facilities.

Images (unless otherwise credited) are the property of the Regents of the University of California; no part may be reproduced or used without permission of the Department of Special Collections.

The UC Davis University Library consists of the Peter J. Shields Library, the Physical Sciences & Engineering Library, the Carlson Health Sciences Library, and the Blaisdell Medical Library in Sacramento. The library buildings and facilities have gone through a number of changes to address the needs of the growing campus. Here you will see the timeline covering the construction of the various library buildings that make up the UC Davis University Library.

Early Buildings that housed the Library

Creamery BuildingCreamery Building

Creamery Building, 1908-1915

Classroom BuildingClassroom Building

Classroom Building, 1915-1938

Old Rec HallOld Rec Hall

Old Rec Hall, 1938-1940

Shields Library (1940-present)

Library AdministrationLibrary Administration

Library Administration, 1940-present

East WingEast Wing

East Wing, 1964-present

South WingSouth Wing

South Wing, 1967-present

West EntranceWest Entrance

West Entrance, 1990-present

Agricultural and Resource Economics Library (1951-present)

Voorhies HallVoorhies Hall

Voorhies Hall, 1958-1994

Ag Econ LibraryAg Econ Library

1994-present

Physical Sciences and Engineering Library (1971-present)

PSE BuildingPSE Building

1971-present

Loren D. Carlson Health Sciences Library (1977-present)

Surge II BuildingSurge II Building

Surge II, 1966

HSL BuildingHSL Building

Medical Sciences 1B, 1977-present

F. William Blaisdell, M.D., Medical Library (1929-present)

Professional BuildingProfessional Building

Professional Building, 1974-2000

Redwood BuildingRedwood Building

Redwood Building, 2000-2006

Blaisdell Medical LibraryBlaisdell Medical Library

Blaisdell Medical Library Building, 2006-present

 

1924
  • Library holds 1,840 volumes.
  • Nelle U. Branch became Librarian.
    • Nelle Branch came to Davis in 1924 to become its first professional librarian. The Library occupied two rooms on the first floor, west end of the Classroom Building and housed 1,840 titles, mostly bulletins, circulars and reports from the U.S.D.A. Over the course of her 27-year career she built the collection to more than 80,000 volumes, implemented the Library of Congress cataloging system, established extensive serials holdings in agriculture, animal science and veterinary medicine, apiculture, and viticulture and enology. She also set up the Periodicals Reading Room and the reserve book system. After she retired in 1951, she lived in Davis and was active in the Davis Library Club and Library Associates.
1926
  • Library cataloging changed from Dewey to Library of Congress call numbers.
1950
  • Veterinary holdings transferred from UC Berkeley to Davis.
  • Aerial view of the Library ca 1950
    • Aerial view of the Library ca 1950Aerial view of the Library ca 1950
1951
  • Library held 72,105 volumes in June 1951 according to the 1950-1951 Annual Report.
1956
  • Veterinary Medicine Library was made a branch of the library system.
1957
  • Food Technology holdings are transferred from UC Berkeley to Davis.
1958
1959
1961
1964
  • Government Documents Department is established.
1965
  • Rare books are transferred from Loan Desk to Reference Department.
  • Library Associates formed.
1966
1967
1970
1974
1975
  • Library holds 1.2 million volumes.
1976
  • Library holds 1.4 million volumes.
1978
  • Library holds 1.5 million volumes.
1979
  • Biological/Agricultural Sciences Reference Department was established.
  • Acquisition of Gary Snyder’s papers begins.
1980
  • UC Davis became a member of the Research Libraries Group.
1981
  • Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center became part of the University Library.
  • Conservation and Preservation Department created.
1986
1987
  • Endowment created the Margaret B. Harrison Preservation Department.
1988
  • Kenneth Kew Collection acquired.
    Wine merchant for Draper Esquine in San Francisco. Kew had been a student at UCD. The papers followed his career from his student days until his retirement.
1989
1990
  • Paul H. DeBach Papers acquired.
    DeBach’s pioneering work in the field of integrated pest management and in the biological control of insect pests and weeds supports our collecting in entomology and organic farming. This was an instance of cooperation with UC Riverside (custodian of the collection) and the Entomological Society of America, Pacific Branch (scholarly group) in moving the collection to UC Davis where it could be more readily used.
  • King, F. H.
    Observations on crop and soil management methods and practices in China, Manchuria, Korea and Japan. Typed notes and original photographs taken in the field for the author’s book, Farmers of forty centuries.
1991
  • “American Farm” exhibit acquired.
    The photographic panels that decorate the walls of Shields Library were an exhibit originally mounted by the California Historical Society.
  • Chinese Cookbooks collection acquired.
    Gardner Pond and Peter Hertzman donated their collections of Chinese cookbooks in English. This became the first collection searchable by provenance on MELVYL.
1994
  • Eastman’s Originals Collection acquired.
    First image database created by the Library.
  • Japanese American Citizens League-Florin oral histories acquired.
    Cooperated with CSU Sacramento to provide MARC cataloging.
1996
1999
  • Sacramento Union Archives acquired.
    A substantial collection of late 20th century local history images.
2003
2005
2006
2008

Celebrating the past and planning to build for the next 100 years. Look back at UC Davis’ history that began even before the doors opened in 1908, and see how we have grown from a pioneering “ag” school into a world-class university ranked among the best. Visit the campus site for more information.