Mission & History


Our mission is to deliver and support high quality research and information technology tools for the CLU community.

At CLU we won't tell you what to think - we'll teach you how to think. You'll learn how to gather information, analyze, and synthesize. We have student workers, information specialists, and well-trained staff to help you find the information you need.


When California Lutheran University, then called California Lutheran College, opened in 1961 the library housed only 22,000 volumes and was located in the Orville Dahl Centrum, the current home of the Centrum Café. It didn’t take long for the growing collection to exceed the limited capacity of the Centrum, and soon portions of Alumni Hall were turned into library overflow and storage areas. A November 1974 Echo editorial by Debbie Beck described the confusion and storage difficulties the rapid expansion caused, citing the sometimes inexplicable locations of important holdings such as Congressional Records that, at least for a time, were housed in the ladies’ restroom.  Collection records detailing the rapid collection growth provide some explanation for the unorthodox shelving choices: by the 1976/77 school year the collection had ballooned to 85,863 volumes, 871 periodical subscriptions, and 44,545 government documents. In 1981, only twenty years after opening, the collection stood at 95,992 volumes, 730 periodical subscription, 62,489 government documents, and 1,093 pieces of AV software. It quickly became apparent to all that a larger library structure was needed and plans to build a new, modern library were included in Phase I of the Call to Excellence Campaign.

Pearson ConstructionResponse to the Call to Excellence Campaign was impressive and many individuals and businesses stepped forward to assist with the construction of a new library for CLC. Foremost amongst these sponsors were Clifford and Alma Pearson of Santa Barbara, California. Formerly involved in real estate investment, the Pearsons had spent much of their retirement supporting charitable causes including an earlier annuity gift of 1.75 million dollars to CLC in 1979. Subsequent donations allowed for the creation of two named scholarships, the Alma and Clifford Pearson Endowed Scholarship and the Pearson Scholars for Leadership and Engagement in Global Society, and generous donations to the Alumni Board Study Abroad Program, the Center for Leadership and Values, the Early Childhood Development Center, the School of Education Leadership Program, and various North Campus athletic venues. The Pearson Library was named in honor of Clifford and Alma and a portrait of the couple can be found outside the libraries’ front doors.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the Pearson Library occurred on April 8th, 1984 and was followed almost exactly one year later by the formal dedication of the building on April 14th, 1985. The new building featured 44 computer stations, seating for 439, and shelf space for 150,000 volumes. The then 100,000-volume collection was carried by hand from the old library building to the Pearson Library by hundreds of students, faculty, and staff over the course of a single day, all of whom repeatedly walked what was dubbed the “Yellow Book Road.”

Since the opening of the Pearson Library in 1985 the collection has continued to expand both in total number of holdings and its technological resources.  In 1991 the traditional paper catalog was replaced by an online catalog, soon to be followed by electronic periodical, book, and video holdings. By 2011 the collection featured 131,440 physical volumes, 415 print periodicals, 158 databases, 113,912 eBooks, 2 streaming video databases, 98 kindles, 155 iPads, and continues to grow.


Acquisitions & Cataloging
The Acquistions & Cataloging staff is responsible for the purchase of and access to physical materials (books, DVDs, CDs, etc.) for the library. Requests or suggestions for items to buy can be made through this department. Contact the library at clulibrary@calluthern.edu.

Circulation Desk 
The Circulation Desk is located at the entrance of the library and offers many services including: checking library materials in and out, accessing course reserves, and assistance in locating items. Check-in with us to gain access to the Computer Help Desk staff, Interlibrary Loan, and the rest of the team located in the workroom behind the Circulation Desk.

Information Commons 
The Pearson Library’s Information Commons Desk supports research and learning by offering a conceptual, physical, and instructional space designated to deliver, instruct and gather information.  The library staff is focused on meeting the information and learning needs of the Cal Lutheran community through the use of information technology tools, reference resources, databases, and our print and digital collections. We can help you with questions about research by using our print and electronic collections, and with formulating searches through our online catalog, article databases and referral services. If you want help finding books, articles or other resources for your research, come talk to us!  Our practice is to help you learn to use your library’s abundant resources resourcefully and successfully. You're also welcome to get help online by contacting one of our Information Specialists.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) 
Interlibrary Loan is a service for current students, staff, and faculty. The purpose is to request from other libraries the loan of materials which are unavailable at the Pearson Library. The borrowing of these materials is governed by the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States, revised 2001.