Set our Treasures Free

By digitizing its wealth of resources, the UC Berkeley Library is opening up collections to the world — providing K-12 students, alumni, and scholars everywhere with access to millions of historical treasures. At the same time, the Library is working to untether the discoveries of the future. A national leader in the push for open access, the Library is fighting to make University of California research freely available to all, helping global leaders and researchers tackle society’s greatest challenges. Support the project.

All the gems, all in one place. This spring, the Library launches its new Digital Collections website — a unified home for its rapidly growing collection of digitized materials. Fully searchable and free to all, the platform makes possible a world of research quests and rabbit holes into the Library’s collections, from records on California’s oil industry to the archives of Berkeley’s student newspaper. Visit our Digital Collections website. 

An image of fire trucks from the Berkeley Fire of 1923

On the first day of each new year (for the next several decades), hundreds of thousands of historical works come rushing into the public domain in a mass expiration of copyrights observed as Public Domain Day. Last year, the Library marked the occasion by digitizing about 50 items never before available online, including stunning Japanese woodcut prints and harrowing photographs of Berkeley’s 1923 fire. Read more about Public Domain Day on the Library Stories website. 

‘Access to public domain materials frees scholars to use, remix, and publish without permission. That is incredibly liberating and powerful.’

— Mary Elings, head of technical services, The Bancroft Library

Employee Marco Perez digitizes The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins as part of the Alternative Media Services program.

The Library’s mission is to provide access to knowledge — for all. The Library recently launched a service to transform its print materials into digital formats, opening them up to Berkeley’s scholarly community. Faculty members, instructors, and visiting scholars with print disabilities have better access to Library materials, a boon to the research possibilities at Berkeley and beyond. Read more about our scanning services on the Library News site. 

‘Any kind of accommodation is not for the person getting it — it’s for the community.’

— Susan Schweik, English professor

How does the Library help breathe new life into old materials? Just ask professor Jonathan Zwicker, who worked with his students and the Library to make an enhanced digital version of a rare Japanese travelogue by Kyokutei Bakin. The original book chronicles the people Bakin met and the strange things he saw on his travels from Edo — modern Tokyo — to Osaka and Kyoto in the early 1800s. Learn more about this process on the Library News site.