Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

History of the Library

Part I: Introduction

There are at least two major reasons for delving into the history of the development of the Library of Pasadena City College.  First, the development of this Library as an institution serving the College parallels the history of the latter as it grew from its original form, that of merely an extension of high school, to its present role as a significant factor in the scheme of higher education for the State of California.  Naturally, the changing character of its existence is reflected not only in corresponding changes in the Library, but also in the growth in the size and quality of the collections.  Thus, Pasadena City College, one of the oldest and largest institutions of its type, is a particularly appropriate model for a study of this aspect of librarianship.

A second important reason for tracing the history of this Library is because of the multiplicity of problems encountered, most of which are common to every library of whatever type at some time or other.  However, it is unlikely that very many librarians have had to cope with such a proliferation of emergencies resulting from a sequence of externally imposed conditions as did the Librarian, Miss Winifred E. Skinner, particularly in the decade 1930-1940.  If the following narrative seems to resemble a so-called “soap opera” at times, through compounding of grievous difficulties into incipient disaster, avoided only in the nick of time by dint of superhuman efforts and extraordinary devotion to duty, one can take refuge in the ancient cliche, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

In summary, those interested in library administration should find several significant items in the following study, touching as it does upon all of the following problems of librarianship:

  1. Development of the collections to meet growth in service requests
  2. Development of the collections to meet the changing nature of service requirements                                                                                         
  3. Removal of the entire Library to temporary or new quarters (four times in five years during one era)
  4. Maintenance of collections and service in the face of drastic budget cuts
  5. Planning and ultimate realization of a new library building
  6. Separation of the collections into two parts on the occasion of reorganization of the parent institution
  7. Enlistment of faculty participation in the selection of new books and the culling of the collections to remove obsolete material