Turning 40 on the Forty Acres

Daily Texan supplement announcing the opening of PCL, August 29, 1977.
Daily Texan supplement announcing the opening of PCL, August 29, 1977.

In February, one of the university’s oldest libraries — the Tower — celebrated a landmark 80th birthday. Not to be outdone, one of the youngest will mark its 40th this fall.

Situated just off the southeast edge of the original Forty Acres, construction of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) was authorized by the UT System Board of Regents in 1972, and construction began a few years later. The project was completed and the doors swung wide for the incoming class on August 29, 1977. The Library still ranks as one of the largest academic library buildings in North America today.

Designed to serve as the main library of UT Austin,  the six-level, open-stack facility is named for two former University professors, Ervin S. Perry and Carlos E. Castañeda. Professor Perry was the first African American to be appointed to the academic rank of professor, and Professor Castañeda played a central role in the early development of the Benson Latin American Collection.

The Longhorn marching band recognized the opening of the PCL during a halftime show.
The Longhorn marching band recognized the opening of the PCL during a halftime show.

In recognition of the anniversary, the Libraries will be hosting a series of events in the early fall, including an historical exhibit on the building, a panel discussion on the future of libraries, a blowout tailgate and a reception with members of the Perry and Castañeda families.

The events will take place September 7-9, so keep an eye on the calendar at the Libraries website for details and plan to join us in celebrating UT’s flagship library.

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One thought on “Turning 40 on the Forty Acres”

  1. Six weeks before the official opening of PCL, I was allowed to use materials that had already been moved from the Tower to the new PCL stacks. In mid-July 1977, I needed to consult the entire run of the journal Technology and Culture to prepare for my first post-PhD teaching gig at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. T&C’s call number section had already been moved from the Tower to PCL during the ongoing move. Rather than hauling all the bound volumes of T&C back to the Tower for me to use, a librarian, possibly JoAnne Hawkins, arranged for me to spend a day in the peaceful, unpopulated, untouched-by-human-hands PCL finding the articles I needed for course preparation. Then only the required volumes were hauled back to the Tower for me to photocopy. I may have been PCL’s first patron.

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