When Norman Powell ’59 was a child, his father, longtime University Librarian Lawrence (Larry) Clark Powell, often took Norman and his brother to work with him on Saturdays. The library was quiet those days and run by what the senior Powell called a "skeleton crew." The young Powells explored the stacks of books and the metal catwalks and stairwells, where they were sure those skeletons must be hiding.
Now, 50 years after Powell Library was named in honor of his father, Norman Powell has given $5 million in support to name and endow the university librarian position, a dean-level appointment held by Ginny Steel.
"Funds from this endowment will support the highest priorities of the UCLA Library — ensuring that our collections and services support teaching and research and that our spaces and technology continue to evolve," says Steel, who oversees the eight libraries that make up the UCLA Library, consistently ranked among the top 10 research libraries in the nation. "I'm honored to be the first Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian."
Notably, only two other University of California campuses have endowed university librarians.
A longstanding supporter of the library, Powell hopes his gift will enhance its reputation and prestige and inspire others to give.
When asked what his father would think about this gift, Powell says, "First, he would be puzzled. When he was librarian, the library was awash in money. There was plenty of funding for the university. But if he came to understand the different financial landscape today that necessitates private philanthropy, he would be thrilled about the gift."
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