Doe Library at the UC Berkeley campus greeted its second official century on March 21, 2012, with music, cupcakes, speakers, exhibits and—most important—evidence that it is still the vital heart of the academic campus envisioned in the early 20th century when it was designed and constructed.
Throughout the Library, as events went on, one could see hundreds of Cal students and other others going through their daily routines of research and studying in the stately halls designed by Supervising Architect John Galen Howard to resemble a Parthenon for the modern “Athens of the Pacific”. The first completed part of the building had opened in 1911, but was officially dedicated on Charter Day, March 23, 1912.
The Centennial festivities began with performances by campus musical groups stationed throughout the building. The Golden Overtones raised the roof of the North Reading Room, followed by the Men’s Octet holding forth in the Brown Gallery—the main entrance corridor—and the University Chamber Chorus singing Debussy and Languedoc folk songs in the Heyns Room, below the benevolent gaze of the University’s portrait of campus namesake, philosopher George Berkeley.
Although mainly composed of UC students, the audiences included a leavening of alumni, faculty, staff, Library donors, and children. In most locations faces aged perhaps eight to eighty could be seen.
The music concluded with multiple renditions of “Happy Birthday” by the Octet in Room 190 where University Librarian Tom Leonard wielded a silver server to cut the symbolic first slice from a birthday cake, and hundreds picked up a celebratory cupcake. By the end of the event at least 1,700 cupcakes had reportedly been consumed.
After a rousing concert by a contingent of the California Marching Band on the grand north terrace of the building, many of the attendees retired to the Morrison Library for remarks by Library leaders, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and literary luminaries including Maxine Hong Kingston and Annie Barrows.
Balloons and jewel toned banners designed by Library graphics staffer Aisha Hamilton brought bright splashes of color to the granite façade and marble corridors of the building. Blow-ups of historic photographs of the building were posted on easels to show how the spaces had changed over time. The Newspaper Room displayed large facsimiles of newspaper pages from 1912 reporting on the library dedication.
Here are some pictures from the festivities. An exhibit, “Heart of the University” on the early history of Doe, organized by Library staffer Steve Mendoza, can be viewed in the Brown Gallery (the main north entrance corridor) of the building, and portions can be found on line at http://doe100.berkeley.edu/
A permanent website http://doe100.berkeley.edu/ also presents more details of the events and history of the Library, including excerpts from the “Doe Library Wall”, an interactive display conceived by Chemistry Library staffer Jeff Loo. At several times during the past year Library users and visitors were asked to write comments on white boards set up in the building, prompted by questions such as “Library, How Do I Love Thee?” on Valentine’s Day and “Of all that the library offers, what are you most grateful for?” around Thanksgiving.
(Steven Finacom writes on local historical topics for the Planet. A UC staffer, he was a part of the committee that planned the Doe Centennial events.)