Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

History of the Library

The New Building

In contrast to the almost continual turmoil of Miss Skinner's time, the next seven years of the history seem almost uneventful, although they were not, of course. Mr. L. Herman Smith was appointed Librarian of Pasadena City College (note the change in name of the parent institution at this time), having been Librarian at John Muir College, the old West Campus reconstituted as a separate institution, immediately prior to this. Mr. Smith at once turned his attention to the planning of the new library building, which reached the stage of architectural planning in January, 1948.

Photo of Herman Smith, head librarian in 1948.Photo of Herman Smith, chairman in 1958.

A great deal of concerted activity took place in the spring semester of this year. Following Miss Skinner's suggestions, Mr. Willis H. Kerr, Librarian of the Claremont Colleges, was called in as a building consultant to help the architects, Bennett and Bennett, with preliminary planning. Mr. Smith himself visited the libraries of twelve junior colleges in Southern California and collected floor plans from many other libraries as well in an effort to provide as much in the way of preliminary suggestions to the architects as possible.

The resultant preliminary plans submitted by the architects to the State Division of Architecture for approval by the middle of May, 1948, proposed "a one-story, reinforced concrete structure with a partial basement for stack expansion, a lecture hall to seat 400, two large reading rooms each to seat 300, conference rooms, periodical and document storage rooms, an audio-visual department, a soundproof listening room for phonograph records, and the usual offices and workrooms . . The stack area, on two levels, would provide for a book capacity of 75,000 volumes (about double the size of the book collection at the time) in a structure containing about 35,000 square feet of floor space."

However, the preliminary plans contained certain defects from a librarian's point of view so the Board of Education authorized the Librarian to visit seven college and university libraries in the Middle West during May and June, 1948, in order to gain further useful ideas.

During this first year in office, Mr. Smith also supervised:

  1. A thorough revitalization of the pamphlet collection
  2. Reorganization of much of the physical arrangement of materials while still in the old facilities
  3. Institution of a more systematic approach to the problem of instruction of new students in the use of the Library. This was accomplished through inauguration of a Freshman (11th grade students) Orientation Program, which included distribution of a booklet entitled "Know Your Library," followed by an illustrated lecture on the Library, augmented by class discussion
  4. Organization of a Faculty Book Club, in operation similar to a lending library, to provide the subscribing members with current, recreational, reading material
  5. The Library Council as its Advisor.

Newspaper clipping: The Library Council fosters interest in library science as a vocation. Row one: Elaine Hotchkiss, May Pon, Claire Caplette, Garrell Hodges, Joan Bateman,Laura Jane Davis, Sophie Velasquez, Sara Weissberg. Row two: Amanda McCoy, Norma Billups (vice prsident 2) Alberta Davis, Nancy Stausburg, Roberta Nay, Myra Slight, Helen Avila, Alice Hallstrom. Third row: Herman Smith ( advisor), Norma Hancock, Carolyn Watson, Ed Hearle ( vice preident 1), Dudley Palmrose (secretary and treasurer2), Ronald Gister, Roger Okerstrom. Row Four: John White (president2), Richard Little, Edward Fremas, Dave Bass, No member, Robert Kennedy. Additional members: Doris Aparamian, Bill Engler( secretary and treasurer 1), Evalyn Ervin, Diane Gossett, Virgiania Griffith, Fred Hughes, Bill Jepson, Jean Helllems, Elmer Manderville, Helyen Robinson, Sonya Sechler, Mary Williams (president 1), Mary Yamagota.

Mr. Smith also pointed out that the staff was already overburdened with work, especially with additional hours of extended-day service, and that this problem would be greatly magnified when the new library building was finished.

"The year 1948-49 witnessed the development and fruition of plans for the new library building. In November, 1948, an official groundbreaking ceremony held at the site was attended by members of the Board of Education, the department heads of Pasadena City College, the administration, and library staff.

Vernon Brydolf, Winifred Skinner, Herman Smith, Gladys Rhinehart

In the months following, a great deal of detailed planning [went] into the furnishing and equipment of the new building, and scheduling of services to be offered, to the end that the Library [would] be of maximum utility in carrying forward the educational program of the College." The features of the new library building were described by the Librarian in an article in Library Journal, Dec. 15, 1943.

"Sidewalk Supervisor" L. Herman Smith, Librarian

L. Herman Smith at the Circulation Desk in the new building

The actual construction proceeded without delay so that the new building was completed on schedule in the summer of 1949. "The moving of all books, furniture and equipment from [the] old quarters in the "C" building was accomplished smoothly during the first week of September, enabling [the Library] to be ready for the opening of the fall semester."

Entrance views

Reference Reading Room

News clipping. The New Library. On October 30, 1949, the new library was formally dedicated. The dignified, modern building speaks well of the months of planning that went into its plans. Both inside and out , it exemplifies the most functional and beautiful use of materials, architecture, ans equipment, with plenty of room for expansion. Two large reading rooms, a library hall, a listening room for records, a movie previewing room, and several offices surround the stacks, capable of holding 75,000 to 100,000 books. The extensive use P.C.C.s students have already made of the library and its facilities show their pride in it. captions for photos. Dignitaries meet on the platformof the Library Hall. Quiet reigns in one of the spacious reading rooms. The main desk invites those who enter by the south door. The versatile Library Hall seats 400.

"The building was formally dedicated on October 30, 1949, as the opening event of Silver Jubilee Week, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Pasadena Junior College. The dedication exercises were simple yet impressive. Music by the A Capella Choir and short talks by Miss Doris Hoit, Librarian of Pasadena Public Library; Mr. Robert O. Schad, Curator of Rare Books at the Huntington Library; Mr. Lawrence C. Powell, U.C.L.A. Librarian; and Mr. Milton Wopschall, member of the Board of Education, preceded a stirring dedicatory address by Mr. Willard E. Goslin, Superintendent of Pasadena City Schools."

However, despite all this careful planning, the new building proved to be imperfect structurally. Its major defect was an entrance hall and lobby in which every footstep resounded deafingly. This was "partially remedied by the installation of rubber tile on the floor and acoustical tile on the ceiling. Other defects, less serious but none the less objectionable [were]: unsightly cracks in the wall plaster; inadequate ventilation in certain work areas, such as the circulation desk, the audio-visual laboratory and room reservations office; inaccessibility of certain plumbing fixtures, excessive number of emergency exits which are impossible to supervise, etc."

The library book budget was also being rapidly increased, rising from $3,000 in Miss Skinner's last year to $7,600 in 1949-50. The size of the collection showed a corresponding increase from 38,000 volumes in July, 1947, to over 43,000 in July, 1950.

The year 1949-50 saw the inception of a well-organized audio-visual department housed in the Library, and administered by Library personnel.

Dorothy Bodo, Audiovisual Supervisor

The Silver Screen Club, in existence for many years, was now organized under Library supervision to provide movie projection service on a voluntary basis on the campus whenever and wherever needed.

A Listening Room for recorded music and speeches was included in the new Library and proved to be an instant popular success. A cataloging system devised by the Library staff for the rapidly growing collection of gramophone discs utilized ?wheeldexes and colored tabs to indicate different types of recordings instead of conventional three by five catalog cards.? Copies of the code, which was noted in Library Journal, were requested by librarians all over the country.

However, a distressing development occurred in this year, which culminated later in the reversion of the Library to conditions which, if anything, were worse than those extant just prior to the completion of the new building. This was the usurpation of space in the new building intended for library use for other purposes, mostly general administrative.

First, the lower stack room was used as a study hall, the Conference Room as a speech therapy classroom, and the Faculty Reading Room as an office. When the 6-4-4 system of organization of the Pasadena School System was abandoned in 1954 in favor of the 6-3-3-2 scheme, over one-third of the library building was taken over to provide space for the offices, textbook room and study hall of the newly organized Pasadena High School until the new high school buildings could be erected.

At the same time the book collection had passed the 50,000 mark, growing at the rate of about 2,500 volumes per year.