Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

History of the Library

The Second World War Period, 1941-46

In a sense, the coming of the Second World War was a blessing in disguise to the Pasadena Junior College Library, at least on a short-term basis. The enrollment of the College and circulation of the Library declined some in 1941-42, much more in 1942-43 (the writer was among the departees in the latter year), while the Library staff remained virtually intact.

Skinner, McCaughna, Kennedy

The professionally-trained librarians were all mature women with the single exception of Mr. L. Herman Smith, who had replaced his wife as Librarian of West Campus in 1941 upon his graduation from U.S.C. Library School. Mr. Smith left the staff of the Library in 1943 to become a librarian at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Meanwhile, the West Campus of Pasadena Junior College became a Star Unit of the U.S. Army. In May, 1943, the West Campus was united with the East Campus and ceased to exist as an entity, thus forming one school in one location. However, the West Campus Library and Librarian remained where they were to serve the Star Unit.

The next year, 1943-44, saw a continuing decline in enrollment and library use, but an even greater difficulty in obtaining clerical help at the rates the Library was able to pay. The book collection continued to grow, however, so that the stacks had now reached the saturation point, indicating once again the need for a separate building suitable for library purpose as soon as the national and world situation permitted.

Serious consideration of the proposed new library building began in 1944-45, for further declines in enrollment and circulation this year gave the staff a little respite, despite the reduction to four professionals, which would have been satisfactory could their efforts have been confined to one floor only. A great reduction in the number of reserve books which were relocated at the main circulation desk instead of in the reading room, together with elimination of night hours of operation the previous year also helped reduce the pressure on the staff.

However, this relief was short-lived. The end of the war in 1945 produced an immediate turnabout in college and university enrollments everywhere in the United States, and Pasadena Junior College was no exception to this trend. The influx of war veterans in 1945-46 (the writer among them), particularly in the spring semester, pushed the enrollment over 5,000 compared to a pre-war enrollment on the East Campus of about 3,000. This strained all resources, including those of the Library, to the limit. A large number of veterans were forced to enroll in the extended-day program, finding all day classes filled to capacity upon their return from military service.

The Library was able to expand the staff only slightly at first through the addition of one person who had formerly been at the West Campus Library. Late in the year, staff was further augmented by paid student assistants drawn from the ranks of the returning veterans, by then crowding the campus. During the interim, it was necessary for the professionals to work many hours overtime at extended-day rate of pay (which was and still is considerably lower than the regular rate) in order to take care of the vastly increased load and the continuing lack of competent regular clerical help.