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Shelf Life: Books
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Credits: Staff and Contributors
Interview with the Chancellor
Geisel at 40
Growth Spurt
Alumni Leaders
Campus Currents
Are You Being Sniffed?
Neon Snail
Honoring Holocaust Victims Across Time and Space
Blondes Have More Light Scattering
Hotel Antimatter
Global Arc
Jet Lag and Diabetes
Japanese Internment - Press 'Play' to Learn
CloneGrid Cineastes
May I Have the Keys, Dad?

Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Geisel at 40
By Dolores Davies

Mischieviously named the not-so-central library when it was first opened in 1971, Geisel now finds itself in the center of campus with over 250,000 books and 4,000 visitors a day.

Did you know?

The Geisel Library building actually houses four separate libraries: The Arts Library; the Mandeville Special Collections Library; the Science & Engineering Library; and the Social Sciences & Humanities Library.


On March 21, 1971, the University Library, formerly known as the Central Library and now known as the Geisel Library, was formally dedicated by UCSD as the University’s flagship library building. The campus, including library staff and patrons, are celebrating Geisel’s 40th anniversary throughout spring quarter with a variety of events and activities taking place in the library.

Geisel by the Numbers
Books in library: 250,000
Approx total manuscript pages: 28 million

On a daily basis:
People who enter the building: 4,065
Items checked out/renewed: 1,705
Reference questions answered: 200
New books acquired: 659
Staff at work: 215
Books loaned out to other libraries: 76

Geisel Milestones
.  Geisel Library, designed by world-renowned architect William Pereira, was completed in 1970. 
.  A Silent Tree, by Terry Allen, was installed in front of Geisel Library in 1986, as part of a UCSD Stuart Collection project.
.  The slate-tiled Snake Path winds up the hill to Geisel Library. Designed in 1992 by Alexis Smith for the Stuart Collection, it curves past a sculptural representation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, symbolizing the journey to knowledge.
.  In 1993, Geisel added 15,413 usable square feet to the existing 121,839 square feet. The expansion—entirely subterranean—was designed by Gunnar Birkerts & Associates.
.  UCSD’s flagship library building was named Geisel Library in 1995, for Audrey and Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss).
.  UCSD designer Michele Humphrey developed the current logo for UCSD, featuring the library, in 1996.
.  In 2001, artists John Baldessari and Roy McMakin transformed Geisel Library’s foyer with Read/Write/Think/Dream, a Stuart Collection installation.
.  Geisel Library was one of only two academic libraries to be named among the 25 most modern libraries in the world by bestcollegesonline.com and was named one of “the coolest sci-fi buildings from the ’70s by Gizmodo.com.

Geisel the Movie Star
I Wanna Be in Pictures!
Geisel Library has been featured in numerous movies, television shows and commercials. It has made guest appearances in the cult movie Killer Tomatoes Strike Back, Funky Monkey, the documentary California State of Mind and was believed to be the inspiration for the Snow Fortress in the recent sci-fi thriller Inception. Geisel also appeared in the TV series Mission Impossible, Simon & Simon, Veronica Mars and John from Cincinatti.

Geisel has also loomed large in numerous ad campaigns for everything from faucets (Kohler) and military recruitment commercials (directed by Spike Lee) to automobiles (several ads for Motor Trend magazine).

Literary Geisel
Geisel has also made appearances in sci-fi novels such as Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge.

Green Geisel
While Geisel Library was built before concepts like sustainable development were widely embraced by builders, Geisel’s addition­—built in 1992 and designed by Gunnar Birkerts—resulted in subterranean wings and the campus’s only earthen roof.