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Memorial: Gloria Werner, 1940–2021

photo of Gloria Werner
Gloria Werner, photo courtesy of UCLA Library

Gloria Werner, UCLA University Librarian Emerita, died on March 5, 2021, at age 80.

Werner first went to UCLA in 1962 to begin graduate training in medical librarianship, after earning her master’s degree in library science from the University of Washington. She went on to become a reference librarian, then biomedical librarian, then associate university librarian (AUL), and finally university librarian in 1990.

As AUL, Werner’s focus shifted from the Biomedical Library to the Charles E. Young Research Library in 1983, where she immersed herself in the massive technological transformation of library services. She secured grant funding to convert the UCLA Library card catalog into a machine-readable form, a legacy that makes more than 10 million volumes in the library catalog accessible online to global scholars. She also was an advocate for the creation of the Southern Regional Library Facility, established in 1987 to provide space for University of California library materials, archives, and manuscript collections.

In the early 1990s, one of Werner’s first projects as university librarian was coordinating the five-year seismic retrofitting of Powell Library, requiring the relocation of staff, study space, and more than 200,000 volumes from the iconic campus facility. The solution was the Temporary Powell Staging Facility, a futuristic two-story structure of aluminum, fiberglass, canvas, and exposed cables. Affectionately nicknamed “Towell,” the structure earned architectural praise.

Powell Library’s reopening in 1996 allowed Werner to upgrade the UCLA Library’s technological support for the campus community as well as its instructional role, for which she long advocated. The newly retrofitted facility introduced interactive computing classrooms and what is now known as the Campus Library Instructional Computing Commons, an immensely valuable service that includes laptop lending services and universal Wi-Fi access.

Upon her retirement in 2002, Werner immersed herself in supporting the arts and maintained a close connection to UCLA. She personally supported the UCLA Library’s acquisition of the Barbara and Willard Morgan Photographs and Papers. She also established a generous endowment for discretionary use by her UCLA university librarian successors. In recognition of her longstanding commitment to serving the UCLA community, Werner received the UCLA Alumni Association’s University Service Award in 2013.

Werner was president of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in 1996–1997. She also served on the ARL Board of Directors, as chair of the ARL Task Force on Membership Issues, and as a member of the ARL Committee on Access to Information Resources, the ARL Working Group on Copyright Issues, and the ARL Research Collections Committee. She served on the SPARC Steering Committee and Working Group in 1998–1999.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests honoring Werner’s life with a gift to the UCLA Library via the University Librarian’s Greatest Needs Fund. Checks made payable to the UCLA Foundation may be mailed to The UCLA Foundation, PO Box 7145, Pasadena, CA 91109-9903, with a note that the gift is in memory of Gloria Werner. For assistance, please contact UCLA Library Development at (310) 206-8526 or giving@library.ucla.edu.

To learn more about Werner’s life and career, see her obituary published in the Los Angeles Times and the UCLA news release, “In Memoriam: Gloria Werner, 80, University Librarian Emerita.”