The University of California, Berkeley's 32 constituent and affiliated libraries together make it the fourth largest university library by number of volumes in the United States, surpassed only by the libraries of Harvard, Yale, and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. As of 2006, Berkeley's library system contains over 10 million volumes and maintains over 70,000 serial titles. The libraries together cover over 12 acres (49,000 m2) of land and compose one of the largest library complexes in the world. In 2003, the Association of Research Libraries ranked it as the top public and third overall university library in North America based on various statistical measures of quality.
Charles Franklin Doe was the benefactor of the main library. The Doe Memorial Library, built in 1910, originally housed the main collections. A strictly Beaux-Arts Classical building, it was designed by campus architect John Galen Howard as one of the original structures in the "Athens of the West" campus plan. The library was meant to be the first building students and visitors saw when entering the university, although today most students enter from the opposite side at Sproul Plaza. Most of the main collections are now housed in the Gardner Main Stacks and Moffitt Undergraduate Library, while Doe serves as the library system's reference, periodical, and administrative center.
Inside Doe are the two largest reading rooms in the university, named the North and Heyns (East) Reading Rooms. The North Reading room features a large barrel-vaulted ceiling capped with a tall Roman-arched windows at each end. The Heyns reading room, named after Roger W. Heyns, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley from 1965 to 1971, is the smaller of the two and exhibits hand-carved wood ceilings depicting the names of famous academics throughout history, as well as the companion piece to Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware, Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth. The piece was originally a gift to the university in 1882 by Mrs. Mark Hopkins but was soon forgotten after it was stored in the Hearst Women's Gymnasium. It was not until the 1960s, when Dr. Raymond L. Stehle was writing a biography of Leutze, that it was rediscovered and placed in the Heyns Reading Room.
The North Reading Room features enormously high ceilings and was restored in 2005 to its original 1910 state. The renovated room features refinished historic tables and chairs, replaced floors, and task lighting similar to the original table lamps.
The lobby of Doe features perpetually changing exhibits and also houses the Morrison Memorial Library. This library was a gift to the university by May T. Morrison in 1921 and is considered today to be a "no study library." Many of its collections are works of classic or contemporary fiction, and the mezzanine level contains a compact disc listening area. The library evokes the feeling of an East Coast country club and was featured in the 2000 Abercrombie & Fitch Back-to-School Catalogue.
Below Doe is the Gardner Main Stacks, named after the 15th University of California President and Berkeley graduate, David P. Gardner. Built in 1997, these stacks contain 52 miles (84 km) of bookshelves and were intended to accommodate the growing library collections. The Gardner Main Stacks consist of four underground floors, each roughly one-and-a-half football fields long and a football field wide. Although underground, it was built with four skylights that allow natural light to permeate even to the bottom floor.
Just east of Doe is the Bancroft Library, "one of the most heavily used libraries of manuscripts, rare books, and unique materials in the United States." This library contains over 60 million manuscript items, 600,000 volumes, 2.8 million photographs, 43,000 microforms, and 23,000 maps. The library originated in 1905 as a center for Latin-American History and Western Americana when it acquired the collections of Herbert Howe Bancroft and gained prominence under the leadership and research of Director Herbert Eugene Bolton. Today, the library also houses the largest collection of ancient papyri in the Western Hemisphere, 300 medieval manuscripts, and thousands of rare and first-edition early European and American works. Some of the most famous library holdings are the Mark Twain Papers, a collection of letters, journals, and nearly 600 manuscripts of unpublished works by Samuel L. Clemens, and pieces of Homer's The Odyssey and Euripides's work from ancient Greece.
The library system also contains 27 other departmental and specialized libraries, including the 580,000 volume Koshland Bioscience Library and the newly constructed C.V. Starr East Asian Studies Library (the largest of its kind in the West) and the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library (which features over 260,000 books, printed music, recordings, microfilms, and rare materials).