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History of The Archbishop Alemany Library


“The opening of a new library is a significant event in the life of a college, for it denotes the transition from one period of academic growth to another… if there were no other measuring standards available, the quality of a college could be very nearly judged by the quality of its library" ~ Sr. Mary Marguerite.

The Archbishop Alemany Library was completed during the Easter break and opened April 17, 1963. Named after the first Archbishop of San Francisco, Joseph Sadoc Alemany, the library marked the final building in a period of major campus growth from the mid 1950s through the early 1960s. Designed by architects Howard A. Friedman and Henry Schubart, the library was presented with a 1964 Library Building Awards Program Award of Merit from the American Library Association and the American Institute of Architects.

From the 1930s, the library previously occupied Guzman Lecture Hall. When the number of books and reference materials out grew their shelves and began spilling into the adjoining classrooms, the college determined it was time for a new library that could accommodate the current enrollment of 750 students and planned expansion to 1,000.

Benincasa

The site chosen for the new contemporary library was that of the Victorian house called, Benincasa which was used as a senior residence hall, formal dinner and entertainment venue, tea garden, and Shield Day backdrop. Benincasa was razed in the summer of 1961.

At the time of its opening the Alemany Library housed the book and journal collections, seminar rooms, faculty reading and conference rooms, a curriculum library, rooms for slide and microfilm viewing, recorded sound and language lab, lounge area for leisure reading, and outdoor reading garden.

Head Librarian, Sister Mary Marguerite who was so instrumental in the design and construction of the Alemany Library once said, “The opening of a new library is a significant event in the life of a college, for it denotes the transition from one period of academic growth to another… if there were no other measuring standards available, the quality of a college could be very nearly judged by the quality of its library”.

Library Interior East Wing July 1964
Library Lobby July 1964
Library Exterior July 1964

Questions about the history of the library can be directed to Annie Reid at anne.reid@dominican.edu


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