Every Gift Matters: Books tell California story

Cerro California History Collection
The Dolores Cerro California History Collection in the Walter Stiern Library contains 536 books.
Cerro California History Collection
A few of the new books in the Dolores Cerro California History Collection made possible by a grant from the President's Fund for Academic Excellence.
Cerro California History Collection
This shelf of the Dolores Cerro California History Collection contains books about Native Americans.

Note: This post is one of a series highlighting how donations of all sizes make a difference at CSUB. Every gift matters.

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“… the letters kept coming from the uncle in Fresno who had no one else, each letter more dramatic than the one before it. ‘Here find an Eden of pomegranate and peach.’ My grandfather was nineteen when he took the bait.”

This excerpt from the prologue of Fresno author Mark Arax’s latest book, “West of the West,” pulls the reader directly into his family’s California story. No doubt, we all have a California story in our past – in fact, those attending CSUB’s commencement ceremony on June 10, 2011, were encouraged by speaker Ralph Lewin to talk to our families and learn our own California stories.

The Dolores Cerro California History Collection in the Walter Stiern Library is full of California stories. The collection houses 536 books inside the beautiful Dezember Reading Room, where the community can thumb through the volumes, become engrossed in the story of California, and borrow the books for further reading.

“The campus is working to develop a comprehensive California collection that will allow students, scholars, and interested community members opportunities to explore the rich intellectual, social and political fabric of the Golden State,” said Curt Asher, Collection Development Coordinator for the Walter Stiern Library.

Recently, 25 new books were added to the collection utilizing a $1,000 grant from the President’s Fund for Academic Excellence. The unrestricted fund provides the President with the ability to financially support targeted initiatives, pursue emerging opportunities, seek innovation, and support student, faculty and staff excellence.

The books offer a diverse study into several aspects of California history, including ethnic and religious heritage, the civil rights and environmental movements, pop culture, and politics. “Contrails over the Mojave” is about the history of jet flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base. “Hollywood’s Cold War” reveals cinematic propaganda from the Bolshevik Revolution to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Arax’s “West of the West” is a Joan Didion-like collection of journalistic essays from various parts of the state, from “The Last Oakie of Lamont” to the “Highlands of Humboldt.” The book joins another title by the California native, “The King of California,” which is about the history of California’s cotton industry.

Students of all disciplines will find relevant stories among the Dolores Cerro California History Collection.

“As the collection develops, it will help solidify CSUB’s reputation for teaching excellence,” said Rod Hersberger, Dean of the Walter Stiern Library. “The funding has moved the library in a positive direction and we are grateful for it.”

Every gift matters at CSUB. Private funding plays an increasingly important role in our students’ education by enhancing the quality of academic and research programs, providing scholarships for deserving students, and improving campus facilities. The Office for University Advancement offers many ways you can support CSUB. For more information, call 661-654-2136 or visit www.csub.edu/giving/ways_you_can_support.shtml.