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Series 3, Leatherby Libraries, 2000-



  • 2000-

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Leatherby Libraries (2004- )

The Leatherby Libraries became the third library and second formal named library on the campus of Chapman University. It was built on the same footprint as its predecessor, the Thurmond Clarke Memorial Library, which was built in 1967 and torn down in 2003. In 1967 the Full Time Equivalent enrollment at Chapman College was around 1,000. In the Fall of 2003, the FTE at Chapman University was 4,757. The campus community had outgrown the Clarke Library both in terms of size, but also in terms of infrastructure. When the Clarke Library was built, there were no computers. As the staff grew, all the study rooms became offices for librarians. The Heritage Room that held college archives became a teaching classroom and the Archives took up another study room. The building at 32,000 square feet could not sustain the growing student body, the rise in staff, a growing collection nor additional electrical needs.

In 1999, the University began a millennium campaign for facilities, campaigns and endowments. Three new buildings, The Leatherby Libraries, Oliphant Hall (an addition to the Music building) and the Fish Interfaith Center were a result of that campaign. The Leatherby Libraries became a reality through the lead gift of the Ralph and Eleanor Leatherby family. Trustee Joann Leatherby served as the Library Millennium Capital Campaign Co-Chair. Additional funds came from private donors, foundations and an IMLS grant. Charlene Baldwin, hired as Dean of the Thurmond Clarke Memorial Library worked with donors and the architect to plan the Leatherby Libraries.

The architect for the library was A.C. Martin Partners, Inc. Matt Construction, Inc., served as the general contractor. The Leatherby Libraries construction took 66 weeks. During construction, library services and staff shared space with the Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library.

The Leatherby Libraries opened on August, 4, 2004. The exterior brick façade of the building was repeated in the other two newly constructed buildings. The rotunda rises 66 feet and was built with a skylight that provides the reading rooms with natural light. The 100,000 four story building on five floors is configured into nine discipline specific named libraries including the Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library and the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives.

The Libraries opened with over 750 seats, 300 computer workstations, groups study rooms, electronic classrooms and labs, over 250,000 books and a first floor extended-hour study commons and a café. Art and exhibits are abundant throughout the library. Points of service include fully staffed public service departments of Reference, Circulation and Reserves, Interlibrary Loan and an office of Information and Systems Technology.

In October of 2004, a grand opening celebration was held, and the formal dedication was held on February 11, 2005.

Future developments went on to include the Center for American War Letters, California’s Gold Exhibit and the Huell Howser Archives and a Digital Commons that reflects the creative output of the Chapman community.


From the Collection: 26 Linear Feet (39 containers total (18 document-boxes, 10 cartons, 9 flat-boxes, 1 custom box, 1 binder-box), 6 uncontained objects, and 3 oversized folders)

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Historical note written by Claudia Horn in January 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections & Archives Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange CA 92866 USA US