Since 1965, the Patrons of the Library have assisted Pollak Library by providing funding for purchases beyond the California state budget allocation. The first of the University's voluntary community support groups, Patrons were founded at the initiative of Ernest W. Toy, the first College and then University Librarian. Convinced that the Library is the heart of the University, the Patrons have been consistent, through times of both healthy and stringent budgets, in seeking to help the Library better serve students, faculty, and the community.
The Patrons have been fortunate in their governance over the years. Their first president was Harold Williams, whose distinguished record in public service culminated in his presidency of the Getty Foundation. Fourteen presidents of the Patrons have come from the community and four from the faculty. The officers and members of the Board of Governors have worked closely and creatively with all University Librarians from Ernest Toy to Richard Pollard.
Purchase of Books
Unlike most other library support groups, the Patrons operate simultaneously in six different ways to benefit the Pollak Library. Their earliest and still paramount activity is the purchase of books and other materials the Library could not otherwise afford. They have greatly enhanced its specialized collections in, for example, rare books, fine printing, Californiana, cartography, naval history, and science fiction. Thousands of volumes and sets of volumes in fields as diverse as religion, travel, fine arts, literature, and history have joined the circulating collection thanks to purchases by the Patrons. And they have consistently supplemented the reference collection in music, theater, chemistry, business, sports, geology, and many other subject areas. The Patrons Book Selection Committee, in consultation with Library staff, makes these purchase decisions. In recent years, the Patrons have devoted a quarter of their book budget to serial publications, usually scientific journals, chosen at the discretion of specialist librarians.
Further, as the responsible agent for soliciting and receiving gifts, the Patrons have facilitated many major contributions which have enhanced Special Collections, as for example, The Dwight V. Strong Collections of George Bernard Shaw and Dylan Thomas, the Frederick and Patricia Shroyer Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Collection, the May-Amsberry Poetry Collection, the Fairfax Proudfit Walkup Theatre Collection, and the Captain Markham Kerridge Freshwater Angling Collection. They are responsible for acquiring the original manuscripts of science fiction classics by Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, and Philip K. Dick. Thousands of books on many subjects have similarly been acquired for the circulating collection as gifts through the Patrons. Thus, without cost to the Patrons, the Library's holdings have been vastly enriched.
Lectures, Exhibitions, Publications
Another long-standing purpose of the Patrons is to educate the University and the community about the Library's specialized holdings. This is done through lectures, exhibitions, and publications.
The Library Lecture Series consists of talks published as occasional papers celebrating important new acquisitions or Patrons' events worthy of permanent record.
The Patrons have organized and underwritten exhibitions on various themes. Displays of early maps from the Library's Roy V. Boswell Collection for the History of Cartography were the work of Mr. Boswell, as were the nine illustrated catalogs that accompanied them. Another map exhibition is presented in Worlds That Never Were. Photographs from the Patrons' exhibition of their U.S Navy Photograph Collection appear in Images of the Great White Fleet. To celebrate their 25th anniversary in 1990, Patrons exhibited examples of their rare book and early map acquisitions, presented in Treasures from the Patrons. The last three of these Exhibition Catalogs are 32 pages in length, fully illustrated and annotated.
The Patron's most ambitious publishing project was the 140-page fine press volume, Very Special Collections. Cal State Fullerton historians Albert R. Vogeler and Arthur A. Hansen chose for description by experts sixteen of the Library's most significant specialized collections, six of which had either been purchased or received as gifts by the Patrons. The volume has been distributed to libraries throughout California and the nation.
The Patrons often play a part in exhibitions curated by the Library's Director of Exhibitions. They contributed substantially to the publication of the catalog of the Oral History Program, now the Center for Oral and Public History, housed in the Pollak Library.
The fourth function of the Patrons is to provide copy facilities for students and others wishing to make copies of the Library's holdings for research purposes. Presently, the Patrons lease several copy machines. The surplus generated through their use is generally used to support print and electronic collections as well as user services.
Book Sale Center
The fifth Patrons activity was inaugurated in 1995: an ongoing used book sale offering some 5,000 books on all subjects at very low prices. It is staffed by Patrons and Emeriti of Cal State Fullerton in a room set aside for this purpose. TheBook Sale Center is open during the autumn and spring academic semesters. The Center accepts tax-deductible donations of books, magazines, etc., which provide the Library with an opportunity to release unneeded holdings for the benefit of students and the public. The revenues go to the Library for its use. Operations of the Book Sale Center are discussed in more detail in a separate section.
The Patrons sponsor a Book Discussion Group which meets monthly during the academic year and the Patrons Lecture Series which features writers and artists. The Patrons Lecture Series is open to the public.
Patrons Lecture Series
2003 - "Books from the Basin: L.A. in Ink": Patt Morrison (writer, columnist, TV and radio moderator); Dennis McDougal (author of Privileged Son: The Story of Otis Chandler and the Rise and Fall of the L.A. Times Dynasty and other books); Marisa Silver (author of Babe in Paradise, a collection of short stories set in Southern California) and featuring David Keller (actor from SCR) reading one of the stories from the collection.
2004 - "Creative California": Kathleen Tuttle (author of Sylvanus Marston: Master Architect in Pasadena's Golden Age); David Thomson (author of Biographical Dictionary of Film and numerous books on movies and Hollywood); K.C. Cole (science writer for the Los Angeles Times and author of Mind over Matter and The Hole in the Universe).
2005 - "Men, Women and God(s)": Landon Jones (author of William Clark and the Shaping of the West); Jonathan Kirsch (book critic for the Los Angeles Times and author of God Against the Gods); Gordon Bakken (Professor of History at CSUF and author of Encyclopedia of Women in the American West).
2006 - "Fiction, Friction, and Flight": Quang Pham (author of A Sense of Duty: My American Journey); Julie Rivett (granddaughter of Dashiell Hammett and editor of Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett 1921-1960 helped us commemorate the 75th anniversary of The Maltese Falcon; Michael Shermer (author of Science Friction and editor of Skeptic Magazine).
2007 - "Sci-Fi, Auto-Bi, Philoso-Phy": Karl Fleming (Author of Son of the Rough South); Pamela Mason-Wagner (documentary film maker whose productions include The Wisdom of Faith series, My Brother's Keeper: Personal Ethics and Finding Lucy; Kim Stanley Robinson (author of The Three Californias Trilogy).
2008 - “All Booked Up”: Jim Newton (Editorial Page Editor of the Los Angeles Times and author of Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made); Barry Glassner (Professor of Sociology at USC and author of The Gospel of Food and The Culture of Fear); D.J. Waldie (City of Lakewood Public Information Officer and author of Where We Are Now: Notes From Los Angeles and Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir.)
2009 - “Sundays in the Library”: Ron Carlson, prominent writer and Director of the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program at the University of California, Irvine, and author of nine books; Dr. Jackson Putnam, emeritus professor, CSUF Department of History, who has authored books on politics and major political figures in California, most recently, Jess: The Political Career of Jess Marvin Unruh; Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Chair CSUF Division of Politics, Administration and Justice, who has written and commented extensively about political and social issues. In 2008, he was the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Paris 8’s Geopolitics Institute.
2010 – Professor Irena Praitis, Department of English and Comparative Literature CSUF, discussed and read from the book that she edited of the late CSUF Professor Joan Greenwood’s haiku; “Supreme Court Watch” by David Savage, Supreme Court reporter for The Los Angeles Times and author of Turning Right: The Making of the Rehnquist Supreme Court and Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court; “Politics and Film” by Phillip Gianos, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, CSUF, who wrote Politics and Politicians in American Film and several other books and numerous articles; Professor Ellen Caldwell, CSUF Department of English and Comparative Literature spoke on “Shakespeare and Film.”
2010 – Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times journalist with experience as an editor, reporter and commentator spoke on “Reading the Midterm Tea Leaves.”
2011 – Robert Scheer, author of nine books, radio commentator and journalist spoke on his most recent book The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.
2012 - John Rabe, experienced public radio reporter and host of KPCC’s weekly “Off Ramp” program. Narda Zacchino, author and award winning journalist at the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle and author of Boots on the Ground by Dusk about Pat Tillman, NFL star and Army Ranger.
2013 - Laura Trombley, President of Pitzer College and recognized literary scholar noted for her books on Mark Twain; Adam Nagourney, Los Angeles Bureau Chief for the New York Times; and Dr. Gregory Benford, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine and award winning science fiction author.
2014 - Brian Michael Norton, assistant professor of English, comparative literature, and linguistics at Cal State University Fullerton, who authored Philosophy of Happiness: Ethical Inquiries in the Age of Enlightenment. Dana Gioia, Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California, who is an internationally acclaimed poet and critic.
2015 – Dr. Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American and author of many books, most recently The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice and Freedom. Michael Hiltzik, business columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of several books on business and the economy as well as The New Deal: A Modern History. Dr. Nancy Segal, Cal State Fullerton Professor of Psychology and Director of the Twin Studies Center, spoke of her latest book The Bogota Twins Project. It is a behavioral assessment of two sets of identical male twins switched at birth.
2016 - Zev Yaroslavsky had a forty year career in political office in the city and county of Los Angeles. He has a wide range of policy interests of which he spoke.
Library and Book-Related Tours
2003 - Kater-Kraft Bookbinders, a family owned and operated company in Pico Rivera that sews, collates and binds old books. Then we visited the Special Collections Library at Occidental College.
2004 - Research Library at the Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar and the Honnold/Mudd Library at Pomona College.
2005 - Leslie Brand Library and restored “Doctor’s House” in Glendale as well as the Munger Center of the Huntington Library, a newly constructed space devoted to research scholars plus the Skirball Center to view the Einstein Exhibit.
2006 - Margaret Herrick Library, housed in the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.
2007 – A.K. Smiley Library in Redlands, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and including a Lincoln Memorial Shrine.
2008 – International Printing Museum in Carson featuring a history of printing and a collection of printing equipment.
2009 – Chen Art Gallery in Torrance which houses a collection of rare artifacts including Neolithic Era pottery and Ming and Qing dynasty imperial porcelain.
2010 – Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. The tour included the Common Ground Exhibition, a chronicle of Japanese American history.
2012 – CSUF Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, a nine acre nature preserve in Modjeska Canyon.
2013 – Home of David Rips with a magnificent book collection.
Patrons also publish The Patrons' Post, a newsletter, presenting news about the organization as well as Ex Libris, a column on books, libraries, and literary culture.
In ways large and small, traditional and innovative, the Patrons continue to fulfill their founders' purposes in the modern North Library building opened in 1996, and the renovated original South building. A renaming ceremony in 1998 honored the Library's two major benefactors, who have long been active Patrons. The Paulina June and George Pollak Library is now more than ever at the heart of the University.