UC San Diego News Center


Audrey Geisel Donates $3 Million to Renovate UC San Diego’s Iconic Geisel Library

Image: Geisel Night Dr. Seuss

Geisel Library. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

San Diego philanthropist, literacy advocate, and longtime supporter of the University of California, San Diego, Audrey Geisel, has donated $3 million toward the renovation of the university’s iconic flagship building, Geisel Library. The gift kicks off a major initiative to transform and revitalize the interior public spaces of Geisel Library to meet the evolving needs of students, faculty, and other Library users in the digital age. Geisel’s gift will be used to renovate and update the entry level of Geisel Library, which opened in 1972 as the university’s Central Library. In 1995, the William Pereira-designed building—known by many as “the spaceship”—was named in honor of Audrey and her late husband, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, in recognition of a major gift from Audrey Geisel.

“We are extremely grateful to Audrey for this generous lead gift to launch the Geisel Library Revitalization Initiative,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.  “This will ensure that Geisel Library, a campus and architectural landmark, continues to provide the outstanding services and spaces needed to support today’s students and scholars, as well as members of the local community. Audrey has been one of the university’s most generous and stalwart supporters, and with this gift, the Geisel legacy will continue to shape our future success as a world-class university.”

Image: Audrey Geisel

Audrey Geisel

The UC San Diego Library is ranked amongst the top 25 academic research libraries in the nation, with more than seven million digital and print volumes, journals, and multimedia materials. Library resources provide the foundation of knowledge for many of the groundbreaking discoveries, treatments, and intellectual achievements for which UC San Diego has become renowned. While many of the Library’s information resources are available online 24/7, more than 1.5 million people stream through the Geisel Library and the Biomedical Library buildings each year, and the Library’s vast resources and services are accessed more than 5.7 million times via the Library website.

"When I first saw the space-age building that is now Geisel Library, I was enamored with its iconic design, as well as its scholarly and literacy mission,” said Geisel. “Decades later, I am delighted with the impact the Library has had on countless students, researchers, and scholars, as well as on San Diego. It gives me great joy to help ensure that Geisel Library will continue to attract and fuel students, scholars, and community members who are passionate about learning.”

While the UC San Diego Library has long been recognized as a leader in digitizing its collections and in harnessing technology to advance scholarship, the 285,000 square-foot facility—which is more than four decades old—has become dated. As the Library’s collections continue to shift from print to digital, spaces no longer needed to house books and journals are increasingly needed for collaborative learning and research.

“There is no way to convey how much Audrey’s gift means to the UC San Diego Library,” said Brian E. C. Schottlaender, The Audrey Geisel University Librarian. “I am thrilled with the positively transformative effect this will have on the Geisel Library public spaces, and how much this will benefit the campus and local communities. Audrey’s incredible support through the existing Geisel Library Endowments has ensured a level of excellence in our collections and staff, and helped maintain our ranking as a top 25 research library during a time of significant budget cuts. This current use gift will launch an exciting new chapter in our evolution, ensuring that Geisel Library continues to function as a vital and innovative facility that enables our talented students, faculty, and staff to excel.”

The main (2nd) floor of Geisel Library is the most active learning space in the Library. Based on ongoing assessments of user needs and traffic patterns, this floor will be redesigned to more effectively support the various approaches to study, research, and learning of today’s students and scholars. The major renovation will include a reconfigured lobby entrance; a significant upgrade to the existing Learning Commons; a new Research Commons; a café and lounge; the implementation of new technologies; and significant enhancements to furniture, carpeting and finishes.

“Our library facilities are being used now, more than ever,” said Schottlaender. “But, like many libraries across the nation, the Library is being used in different ways than it has in the past. Our hope is that this generous gift will lead to more support, so we can upgrade other public spaces in the building in the near future. I would urge others to join Audrey in helping fulfill this exciting initiative to transform Geisel Library into a library that is well-equipped for 21st century learners. We want this amazing building to be as inspiring on the inside as it is bold on the outside.”

Geisel Library is also home to the Dr. Seuss Collection—in Mandeville Special Collections—with more than 12,000 original drawings, sketches, manuscript drafts, books, notebooks, photographs, and other memorabilia documenting the creative achievements of Theodor Seuss Geisel. In 1992, additional space was added to the Geisel Library building with the construction of subterranean wings by Gunnar Birkerts & Associates, preserving the silhouette of the building’s striking geometric design.

Renovation of the entry level of Geisel Library is the first stage of the Geisel Library Revitalization Initiative, with additional major enhancements slated for the 1st and 8th floors. Private support is essential to accomplishing this ambitious undertaking. For further information on the initiative, please click here or contact Julie Sully, Director of Development for the Library, at or 858-822-4554.