By Jessica Wolf
UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library is ready for the future. The archival and architectural treasure is home to the university’s renowned collection of rare books and manuscripts from England’s Tudor period through the 18th century, including the world’s largest repository of materials related to Oscar Wilde. After being closed for more than two years, as of Jan. 21, the Clark is officially reopen to the public and scholars.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand reopening celebration, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block noted that Clark’s gift of the property to UCLA in 1934 was the first major gift to what was then a young university.
“Libraries are critical to the mission of a research university,” Block said. “The Clark is one of the most beautiful libraries in America, but beyond its physical beauty it is hard to overstate the significance of what it provides in scholarship and research.”
Surrounded by the constantly evolving West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Clark Library underwent a major seismic retrofit and renovations to bring the historic building into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The new and improved Clark also boasts a new annex for book storage, a new classroom, expanded WiFi access and new office and lounge spaces for visiting scholars, staff and researchers.
“The Clark is a gem and now we are letting the world know that we have restored this beautiful treasure for the 21st century, and we are going to continue to take care of it,” said Helen Deutsch, the new director of UCLA’s Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies and the Clark Library. Deutsch has always considered the Clark her intellectual home, having first arrived there as an Ahmanson-Getty postdoctoral fellow to work on a book about Alexander Pope.