—USC — University of Southern California —
In August 1994, USC opened the doors to a revolutionary new facility destined to help redefine the nature and function of the modern university library. Conceived as a gateway to knowledge, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library was designed to
synthesize information from diverse sources and deliver it on demand to students at individual computer
work stations, while also providing a core collection of
The technologically advanced facility was a far cry
from USC's first library, which consisted of 700 donated volumes housed in a room in the university's modest first building. Yet the shared lineage of the two was
unmistakable. Both grew out of the generosity of
USC's friends, who recognized the indispensable role
of a library in furthering the intellectual mission of Southern California's oldest research university.
From the beginning, the growth of USC's library system paralleled that of the university. In 1887, when the university's second building was erected, the
library moved into larger quarters. By 1909, it was bursting at the seams.
"The need of
a separate library
building is demonstrated by the
of the library at all hours," the university librarian reported to the Board of Trustees that year.
It would be another 23 years before
was fulfilled, with the 1932 opening of the Edward L.
Doheny Jr. Memorial Library. In the meantime, branch
libraries serving specific disciplines began to proliferate on campus, most notably an arts library, the
oldest in its field in the region; the library of the Los Angeles University of International Relations, which affiliated with USC, in 1928; and an outstanding new philosophy library located in Seeley W. Mudd Hall,
which was built in 1929. Named for philosophy professor James Harmon Hoose, the philosophy library
quickly won acclaim for its holdings and helped attract
a number of distinguished scholars to the university.
As the cornerstone of USC's library system,
elegant Doheny Library was a model for university
libraries when it was built. By the 1980s, however, skyrocketing enrollment and new trends in information access had begun to tax its capabilities. Plans were laid for the Leavey Library, a teaching library, which was intended to serve as an intellectual center for undergraduates and a campuswide resource for
innovative teaching and learning in the electronic
information age. When the Leavey Library was
dedicated in 1994, bringing the number of USC's
branch libraries up to 14, Doheny Library took its
place as USC's center for advanced research in the
humanities and social sciences.