About the Ethnic Studies Library

ESL- A Brief History
The library was established in 1997 by merging the Asian American Studies Library, the Chicano Studies Library and the Native American Studies Library. In the late 1960s, the collections of these founding libraries grew from student interest in collecting and preserving a perspective that was lacking in other campus libraries. The specialized ethnic studies books and serials, archival collections, posters, and audio collections from those three libraries live on in a centralized space on the ground floor of Stephens Hall. The library consists of these four collections: Asian American Studies Collection; Chicano Studies Collection; Native American Studies Collection; Comparative Ethnic Studies Collection.
As scholars and educators, we encourage critical thinking and debate based on facts and evidence, and we value the multiple forms of knowledge represented by diverse cultures and societies. The free circulation of information is essential to the work of education, and we oppose all efforts to limit critical engagement and the availability of knowledge.


By donating to the Ethnic Studies Library you will support the work of a unique institution. What makes the collections of the Ethnic Studies Library unique is that they were established by students who wanted to change the world. During the turbulent times of the Third World Liberation Front strike of the 1960s, they were fighting for a perspective and a respect that was lacking in the mainstream institutions on campus. They collected movement newspapers and journals that were not being collected elsewhere. They saved posters and flyers that are now historical artifacts. They had the conviction that if they did not save these materials, no one would. Today we are at the point in the history of the library where we must make sure that these materials are not only saved but also made accessible to students, scholars and to the public. In 2017 we celebrated our twentieth anniversary and our current fundraising goal is to equip and staff our own digitization lab so that we can make our unique materials as accessible as possible. 

If you are interested in donating to the Ethnic Studies Library click below:



  • In 1998, our staff received the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Team Award for their extraordinary work in setting up the new Ethnic Studies Library.
  • Our librarians have received the highest awards of the Association of Asian American Studies and of REFORMA, the national Latino librarian association.
  • Dozens of scholarly publications acknowledge the assistance of our staff. The library has received two major grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, as well as grants from the California State Library, the Librarians Association of the University of California, and the Council on Library and Information Resources.
  • The Chicano Database, the only online bibliographic resource devoted to Chicano Studies, is produced by our library and is distributed by EBSCO to libraries nationwide.
  • Our former Publications Unit produced first-of-their-kind reference books such as: Arte Chicano: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Chicano Art, 1965-1981, the Chicano Anthology Index, the Chicana Studies Index, and A Sense of Place: Rudolfo A. Anaya: A Bio-Bibliography.
  • The Asian American Studies archives contain over 100 collections that are considered invaluable by scholars worldwide, including the Kem Lee Photograph Archive and the Him Mark Lai Collections.
  • In 2007, the special collections of the Ethnic Studies Library were recognized by the Association of Research Libraries in its 75th anniversary commemorative volume.
  • The H.K. Yuen Social Movement Archive was selected as one of the Ten Treasures of the Ten Million, commemorating the ten millionth item received by the UC Berkeley campus.


Our goal is to to equip and staff our own digitization lab so that we can make our unique materials as accessible as possible. Please help us with a check made payable to UC Regents and sent to:

Ethnic Studies Library
30 Stephens Hall
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-2360

For further information contact:
Lillian Castillo-Speed, Head Librarian
csl@library.berkeley.edu 510-642-3947

Thank you for your support!