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Clark Hall was built in 1965 upon receipt of a generous gift of W. Van Alan Clark ‘09 and Edna McConnell, and serves as a bridge connecting the Chemistry Baker Lab and Physics building, Rockefeller Hall. Van Alan Clark was employed at the California Perfume Company (now renamed Avon), which was founded by Edna’s father, David Hall McConnell.
The Edna McConnell Clark Library Fund was established in 1969, originating from 2,000 shares of Avon products. Thus, the Physical Sciences library was born as a research level library, supporting the efforts in Chemistry, Physics and later encompassing Astronomy disciplines into its collections.
Over time, and throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, collaboration among the other libraries on campus emerged from the rise of cross-disciplinary study. Boundaries around Cornell unit libraries blurred as collection scope became intertwined with related subjects. In January of 1998 the Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences libraries were merged into one administrative unit: Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Library [EMPSL]. While the library units were in three distinct geographic locations, management decisions are made jointly. The Physical Sciences Library tied in to collections at Mann Library (Life Sciences) and the Medical College Library on the Geneva Campus.
With the evolution of library materials turning digital, Physical Sciences propelled itself into the new age and transitioned into a virtual library, maintaining most of its collections online and moving high use print collections into other libraries’ stacks on campus, mainly the Math, Uris and Mann Libraries. Low use items were moved to the Annex and reserves are held in the Math Library. The study spaces in Clark are still open for use with plans to renovate the space to remain a quiet study area. As of 2011, a committee was formed to explore enhancing the web presence for users. Librarians remain in Clark to offer bibliographic instruction and research assistance.
The existence of library materials and research in Clark is indirectly linked to the founding of scholarly journals like High Energy Physics, Physical Review Journal, Physical Chemistry Journal and the competitive Chemical Physics Journal – all established within the Cornell physical sciences departments. Although the patrons of the Physical Sciences Library are primarily graduate students and faculty in the fields of astronomy, chemistry and physics, the Library also serves undergraduates and other members of the Cornell Community.
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