Emeritus academics reflect on 41 years of McHenry Library

From left to right: Judy Yung, John Dizikes, Virginia Jansen, Stan Stevens, and Ginny Steel. (Photo by Scott Rappaport)

The past and the present merged at McHenry Library last Tuesday when three emeritus professors and a founding librarian joined together to reflect on the 41-year history of the UCSC library.

Sitting together behind a long table on the spacious third floor bridge between the book stacks and Special Collections--with the sounds of construction emanating from the new addition in the background--the four panelists reminisced with the audience and shared their personal thoughts and experiences about the architecture, spirit and evolution of McHenry Library.

"When I first set sight on this library, I was in awe," said Judy Yung, emerita professor of American studies, who taught at UCSC from 1990 until her retirement in 2004. "I think of the library as the crown jewel of this campus--the cherry trees outside in bloom, the ferns and greenery of the courtyard, the building and windows projecting a majestic serenity--it's such an open, inviting, and resourceful place; I still feel it's like my own personal library as I continue to work on my research."

Yung was joined on the dais by John Dizikes, professor emeritus of American studies and founding faculty member of Cowell College; Stan Stevens, UCSC's map librarian from 1965 to 1993; and Virginia Jansen, professor emerita of art history--who at the end of her talk said, "I'd like to close my remarks with the dreamy wish: if only everything at UCSC worked as well as the library..."

Dizikes opened his portion of the program by reciting Will Rogers' famous adage, "I never met a man I didn't like," adding, "Well, I'm more discriminating than he was.but I have to say, I never met a librarian I didn't like."

"The heart of this institution has been the people," Dizikes noted. "The library is the center of the university; this is the focal place where we collaborate and work together."

After a question-and-answer period with the panel, University Librarian Ginny Steel gave an update on the progress of the library renovation, which will transform the building into a state-of-the-art technological research facility. She said that in early December, the addition will be completed, and the campus will then begin testing to make sure the electrical, heating, safety, and various other systems are in working order.

Steel explained that the contents of the entire library will then be moved into the new addition for an 18-month period, while the existing building is completely gutted down to the exterior walls and windows.

"Everything will change and the building will be brought up to code," said Steel. "The entry will still be on the second floor, but instead of the glass doors, a gate will be rolled down whenever the library is open. There will be a café see Currents story in the foyer, along with a reading room, plus the reference, circulation and information technology desks."

Steel added that Special Collections will occupy the entire third floor in the renovated library and the fourth floor will host administrative offices plus group study spaces around the perimeter. Media Services will also move into the library, occupying the first floor along with the library's technical services and the Visual Resources Center.

Steel also noted that the last library exhibit before the spring move into the new addition, One Last Look: A Photographic History of McHenry Library, is now on display on the second floor. Co-curators--reference specialist Laura McClanathan and reference librarian Ken Lyons--drew from more than 40 years of historical photographs housed in Special Collections to create a tribute to McHenry Library's past. Accompanying the historic photos is a multimedia exhibit comprised of a slide show of materials from the library's Visual Resource Collection, plus a brief video of 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damage.

For more information about the McHenry Library Addition and Renovation Project, go to the Library web site: McHenry Library.