CSUF News Service

Pollak Library Is 'More Than Books' in 60th Anniversary Exhibit

Trish Campbell

Trish Campbell, exhibit curator, poses next to an original card catalog, which can be seen in the "60 Years of Community Service" exhibit.

Highlights of '60 Years of Community Service'
  • In 1959, the original book collection budget was $6,000, but private donations helped add to the library's initial stock of 121 books.
  • The library's first microfilm reader from 1961.
  • A card catalog, which was replaced in 1989 with an electronic catalog.
  • In 1998, the library was renamed for Paulina June Pollak, professor emeritus of English and comparative literature, and her late husband George, who donated $1 million to the university.
  • 1855 edition of "Leaves of Grass" poetry collection by Walt Whitman; 1851 first edition of "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville; 1633 edition of Gerard’s Herbal; and Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights), published in 1485 and read throughout the Middle Ages.
  • Items from cultural events and exhibits, including the 50th anniversary of Frank Herbert's "Dune."
  • Babylonian tablet, dates to the era of Hammurabi, 1800-1600 B.C., and lists workers or soldiers organized into groups of 10 for administrative purposes.
  • Buddhist prayer charm (770 A.D.), which in 770 the Empress of Japan commanded that a million Buddhist prayer charms be printed on paper, and it was done. Most have been lost, and this is one of the surviving few — an example of the first extant printing on paper. The scroll is housed in its own ancient, hand-turned, wooden pagoda.
  • Books in trade-cloth binding, late 19th century and early 20th century volumes with beautifully embossed covers.
  • Related: Special Collections

For nearly as long as there has been a university, there also has been a library — a place for the Cal State Fullerton campus and broader community to find new and rare books and also gather for activism, cultural and humanitarian activities.

The new exhibit "Pollak Library: 60 Years of Community Service" is a look back at the library as a member of the CSUF community and, in part, the services it has provided over the years.

Over the past six decades, the library has served as the "hub of the university," which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and has played a pivotal role in CSUF's history, said Trish Campbell, library exhibit committee chair and program coordinator.

"I hope that people who visit this exhibit learn something that they never knew, and for the people who worked in the library and used the library, I hope they reconnect. There's such a rich history at Cal State Fullerton that goes beyond the walls of the library," added Campbell, curator of the exhibit.

"We are so much more than books. The idea is to think about, or consider, the library as a living breathing entity, since it, too, is a member of the community."

CSUF President Fram Virjee welcomed about 70 campus and community members at an April 7 reception of the exhibit. Special guests included library donor and namesake Paulina June Pollak, professor emeritus of English and comparative literature; founding librarian Ernest W. Toy Jr., university librarian and associate professor of history, emeritus; and members of the Patrons of the Library, a library support group since 1965.

Virjee cited two things he wants others to know about him as the university's new president: Students are his favorite part of the job, and the library is his favorite building on campus.

The library, Virjee added, has been the conduit for hundreds of thousands of Titans to discover and achieve their academic goals and life dreams.

The university's first library was in a building at Sunny Hills High School in 1959, when the institution was known as Orange County State College. By 1960, the library moved onto campus, and in 1963, it was housed in the basement of the science building, now known as McCarthy Hall.

As the fourth building on campus, with its concrete brutalist-style architecture façade, the library opened in 1966 with about 100 staff members to oversee the library's operations. Today, the library is undergoing a transformation as part of the  Library of the Future, or LOFT, a CSU systemwide initiative.

The exhibit, which continues through June 22 in the Salz-Pollak Atrium Gallery, is open during library operating  hours.  For more information about the exhibit, visit online.

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