For some time it has been my intention to make an additional gift of the library building, the books, manuscripts and equipment contained therein, and the real property, where I reside while I am in Los Angeles, California, so that the grounds may eventually be used as a park by the public, generally, and the library building and its contents by students for research work.
—William Andrews Clark Jr.
Letter to the Regents of the University of California
June 4, 1926
To support and advance UCLA’s mission of education, research, and service by preserving and sharing our collections for the public good.
The UCLA William Andrews Clark Memorial Library is a rare book and manuscript library that is open to all researchers who wish to conduct research with its holdings. The Library specializes in the study of England and Western Europe from the Tudor period through the long eighteenth century and from the mid-Victorian to late Edwardian periods, with a focus on Oscar Wilde and his circle. Other collection strengths include modern book arts; fine printing and the history of the book; and Montana and the West.
The Library is located in a 1926 Beaux Arts building, listed as Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monument #123. Situated on five landscaped acres in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, it was originally planned to reflect the Mediterranean influence of Robert Farquhar’s architectural vision. The Library organizes a variety of academic and public programs that bring our collections to a wider audience, including conferences, lectures, exhibitions, and workshops. The Library is part of UCLA’s Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies, which also organizes chamber music concerts and theatrical performances, as well as a range of academic programs, many of which take place at the Library.
In keeping with UCLA’s primary purpose as a public research university to create, share, and preserve knowledge for the betterment of our global society, and in accordance with William Andrews Clark, Jr.’s vision for the library and its grounds as resources for the public good, the Clark Library is dedicated to making the shared cultural record as widely available as possible. We support UCLA’s mission of openness and inclusion and are committed to empowering broad research and engagement within special collections.
We support this mission in the following ways:
- We open our collections to all who wish to conduct research with the Library’s holdings, for use onsite in our reading room, as well as digitally and remotely as far as our resources allow. We welcome researchers of all ages, regardless of affiliation or academic experience.
- We preserve the Library’s holdings as a record of our shared history for present and future users and add thoughtfully to the collections. We strive to include new voices to the conversations that exist within our collections. Within this framework, we especially seek materials that document narratives and experiences that have been obscured, under-told, or excluded from our library collections in the past.
- We enable discovery and use of materials held at the Library through detailed descriptions and multiple entry points, following best practices and the guidance of international standards.
- We actively seek to redress biases in the cataloging and description of our materials. We also recognize we may bring unconscious biases to this work. We strive to mitigate these biases through a variety of strategies, including input from our users. Visit our Statement On Cataloging.
- We work with instructors and students at all educational levels in Los Angeles and beyond to provide personalized and interactive class visits with the primary sources in our collections.
- We develop outreach and engagement programs that are open to all members of the public, including workshops, lectures, conferences, and events featuring multisensory and experiential learning opportunities with our collections.
When a small fire started at his residence at 2205 West Adams Boulevard in 1923, William Andrews Clark Jr. decided that a new structure—utilizing best practices for fire-proofing, earthquake-survival, temperature-and-humidity control, and ventilation—must be built to house his growing collection of printed books and manuscripts. After selecting Robert D. Farquhar as architect, Clark sent him to special libraries in the East to learn more about interior arrangements and library functions. Site visits included the Newberry Library in Chicago; the Morgan Library, Grolier Club Library, University Club Library, and Harvard Club Library in New York; the John Carter Brown Library in Providence; the Public Library in Boston; the Harvard University Library in Cambridge; and the Congressional Library in Washington, D.C. According to the architect, “the program, or rooms needed, was fairly simple: two bookrooms of equal size, one for older, the other for later books; an entrance vestibule; a large room (drawing room) for gatherings; studies, Mr. Clark’s office, a librarian’s room, conveniences, and stackrooms in the basement.”
The interior and exterior decoration was often suggested by Clark himself, such as the paintings on the barrel vault of the vestibule; much of the outdoor sculpture; as well as the ceiling paintings and two large panels at the ends of the drawing room, all of which were taken from Clark’s collection on John Dryden. European marble was purchased from a New York vendor, with Roman travertine selected for the exterior. The six small round windows on the facade of the brick library were adaptations of windows designed by Sir Christopher Wren at Hampton Court. All work on the building was completed by 1926.