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John Edwin Smith, Founding University Librarian May 19, 2010

Posted by ucisca in Early UCI Campus, Photographs.
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John Smith was selected as UCI’s founding University Librarian in June 1963.  The three new campuses (UCSD, UCI, and UCSC) opened with identical core library collections of approximately 65,000 volumes each. The undergraduate libraries at Harvard and Michigan were the basis for that core list. Based on the UC efforts, Books for College Libraries, first published in 1967, provided a highly influential core list of 50,000 volumes that every undergraduate library should own. In building UCI’s initial collection, Smith also wrote to each of the founding UCI faculty stating: “Send along your favorite basic list of 100 to 150 books which you would expect to find.” Many submitted lists, and on UCI’s first day of classes on October 5, 1965, the UCI library opened with a notable collection of 100,000 volumes. John Smith was University Librarian from 1963-1979.  Earlier in his career, while at UCLA, Smith was influential in the American Library Association’s intellectual freedom movement, an early high point of which occurred when ALA met in Los Angeles in 1953 and publicly stood firm against McCarthyism, endorsing the Freedom to Read Statement, issued that year jointly by ALA and the Association of American Publishers. John Smith died in Santa Ana on July 28, 1986.

AS-061.  University Communications Photographs. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.

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