Biomedical Library Renamed to Sally T. WongAvery Library

On Feb. 24, UC San Diego announced that the Biomedical Library was renamed to the Sally T. WongAvery Library, after UCSD alumna and donor Sally T. WongAvery. UCSD Library officials have begun the process of gradually introducing the new name.

“We’re really working towards a recognition event on April 23, […] but students will see name changes starting to happen over the next few weeks,” Audrey Geisel librarian Erik Mitchell said. 

The name change was in light of WongAvery’s $10 million donation to the library, as well as her contributions with the library’s East Asia Collection, which features a compilation of books, newspapers, and other print media in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages.

“[WongAvery] is a member of the UC San Diego Foundation and has been a really active member of the Chinese community in San Diego […] She started partnering with us to preserve some of the print publications from the Chinese community here in San Diego,” Mitchell stated. 

WongAvery’s work specifically included sourcing and preserving copies of local Chinese media, adding both digital and print copies to the collection. The publications preserved included “the Chinese News, the first Chinese language newspaper in San Diego, and We Chinese magazine, a current publication that documents the community,” according to Mitchell.

Mitchell would elaborate that the donation will continue to expand and support the East Asia Collection, including the collection of local publications and other scholarly materials, in addition to more broadly supporting East Asian studies at the university.

 “The gift that is connected to this building naming [..] will ensure that it’s really providing support for the library to do collection development, hold events, and provide lots of different types of support around the area of East Asian culture and scholarship,” Mitchell said. 

Mitchell continued that while most of the donation will support the East Asia collection, a smaller portion will eventually fund library improvements. 

“A little bit of the funding will go to improvements to the WongAvery Library, but we haven’t really identified what those are yet,” Mitchell said. “I think the library is in pretty good shape, but I can imagine maybe changes to furniture or investments that are kind of centered around helping students make better use of that space in the future.”

While the former Biomedical Library will bear WongAvery’s name, there are no plans to change the focus of the media located in the WongAvery Library, which will remain mostly geared toward the biomedical field. 

“The [WongAvery] Library is located at the heart of the Biomedical campus […]. It has a focus as a place where our biomedical collection lives, and it’ll continue to be there,” stated Mitchell. 

The WongAvery Library has been known as the Biomedical Library since 1969. Accordingly, UCSD administration has focused on promoting the name change to better acquaint students. 

“We want to make sure students are aware of this name change so that they do not get confused when trying to book a study room in that building or request other services,” said UCSD Director of Library Communications Nikki Kolupalio. 

Eleanor Roosevelt College junior Brandon Liu supported WongAvery’s donation and the renaming, expressing the personal impact made on him as an Asian-American student.

“Knowing WongAvery’s contributions, I feel like renaming the library [after her] would really cement the legacy of East Asian graduates at UCSD. It shows how UCSD has impacted the careers and lives of Asian students,” Liu said. 

With WongAvery’s donation, Library staff seek to make the East Asia Collection a broad resource for East Asian studies. The collection’s print archives will remain at their current location on the fourth floor of Geisel Library in addition to over a million digital archives online.

Photo courtesy of Pfeiffer Partners.

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