In 1931, construction began on the building and in September 1933, the Fresno State Teachers College library was opened. The cost of the construction was $260,000 which included the land and all the furnishings.
The architectural design is primarily Romanesque with its extensive use of curved arches, terra cotta tile roof and brickwork. There are 100,000 face bricks in six shades of color, ranging from buff to purple, laid with unequal thickness of mortar. The library was built to conform to the look of the Historic Old Administration Building, built in 1916.
The Entrance Terrace and Vestibule
The eight terra cotta columns of the vestibule are of three different designs and the brick work flooring has various patterns and colors. Above the three brass light fixtures, the painted overhang features a motif of large, intricate rosettes and smaller, more simplified, ones. This rosette motif, as well as the arches, columns, gold leaf painting, the basic color scheme accented with oak and brass, is repeated in the walls and ceiling in the Reference Room.
Six solid oak doors lead into the Entrance Lobby.
The Entrance Lobby
The walls of the lobby continue the use of the multicolored brick and the brass chandelier has 40 candle lights. The flooring is made up of octagonal and square tiles with accent tiles mirroring the designs from the exterior walls of the building. These tiles are also used in the risers of the stairway and the stair railings feature a grape motif.
Located here in the lobby is the Freedom Shrine where copies of key documents relating to the historical freedom of the United States are on display. View the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, surrender documents from World War II and many more.
From the Lobby, you can turn left and go to the Learning Resources Office, Tutorial and Media Centers, the Student Success Computer Lab, Financial Aid and various other college offices. If you go straight ahead and up the stairs, you will reach the second floor classrooms. If you turn right, you will enter the heart of the library, the Circulation Area.
Although, the original brick circulation desk has been replaced, multicolored brick arches are incorporated into the “washed” walls. From the circulation area, you may go into the Periodicals/Reserve Room, the Library Conference Room, the Computer Lab or into the Reference Room.
Beyond the Reference Room is the West Wing addition containing, the Law Library and the circulating book collection.
Library Conference Room
The Library Conference Room was originally a browsing room for students with lounge furniture, a fireplace, leather-covered doors and knotty-pine paneling. The inscription on the fireplace mantel reads, “There is no friend like a good book.” The room is now used as a conference and meeting room.
Library Reference Room
This is the library’s original Main Reading Room, now called the Reference Room. The inscription over the room’s entrance reads, “There is no past, so long as books shall live.” This is a line from a poem, “The Souls of Books,” by Edward Lytton, a 19th century English poet. Lytton also coined the phrases, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “the great unwashed,” and “the almighty dollar,” but he is probably most infamously well-known for the opening sentence from his novel, Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night...”
The room is 107 feet long and 50 feet wide with columns and arched windows running down the length of the room. The ceiling is 30 feet high and the 12 bell-shaped lamps are of bronze. In 1976, mercury vapor light fixtures were installed in the ceiling to improve the lighting. The sturdy tables and chairs are of oak.
The ceiling artwork is the most famous feature of the library. It duplicates the rosettes and gold painting from the vestibule, but it also presents the evolution of culture and civilization through various periods of history.
The center beam features portraits of eight great educators who have influenced modern education: John Amos Cormenius, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, Johann Friedrich Herbart, Friedrich Froebel, Horace Mann, Herbert Spencer, and John Dewey.
The ceiling was designed by Anthony B. Heinsbergen of Los Angeles, California. He was born in Holland and came to the United States in 1906. He created the art work for the Los Angeles City Hall, the California State Building also in Los Angeles, twenty-two Pantages theaters across the country, including the Tower Theater in Fresno, and many other civic buildings. Heinsbergen often painted on canvas and then applied them like wall paper. He died in 1981 at the age of 86.
“There is no past, so long as books shall live.”