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Best Library: C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Overlooking the verdant landscape of Memorial Glade, it’s impossible to ignore the majestic exterior of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. Opened only in 2008, it is the newest addition to Cal’s already extensive system of libraries. Built with elegant bronze screens and a minimalist form, the building boasts a modern aesthetic when contrasted with the more classical Doe Library from across the Glade. But for all its novelty, the East Asian Library contains some of the world’s oldest manuscripts, maps, and records in its roughly 900,000 volumes of original Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other East Asian documents.

Sadly, I lack the skills to read any of those records. But a knowledge of East Asian languages isn’t necessary to appreciate the library. There’s sofas too, and a spotlight. It’s the perfect place to nap or peruse a periodical, but why would you? The East Asian Library is perfectly equipped for the more studious person but the view of the study nook can only be so pleasing. Instead, the library’s sophisticated design and expansive contents are enough of an excuse to visit a building that manages to meld both intellect and beauty.

-Jessica Pena