Monday, October 11, 2021

Three shelves of books and a sign advertising Vroman's @ Caltech LibraryA lobby with two red reading chairs, three shelves of books, and a sign advertising Vroman's @ Caltech Library

We are delighted to announce Vroman's @ Caltech Library, our new partnership with Pasadena’s own Vroman’s Bookstore, Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore. According to a history shared by Vroman's, "Vroman’s Bookstore was founded in 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman. Born in 1856 in La Salle, Illinois, Mr. Vroman moved to Pasadena, California in the late 1800s hoping the weather would improve his wife Esther’s health. Sadly, Esther died two years later, and the brokenhearted Mr. Vroman sold his beloved book collection to raise the capital to open a bookstore. Mr. Vroman loved books and loved giving back to his community. He helped to rescue some of the old Franciscan missions from decay, helped establish the Southwest Museum (now part of the Autry Museum), and he was a great supporter of the Pasadena Public Library. There’s even a story of him loaning money to a competitor, and helping him establish credit with vendors, so that the man could start his own bookstore....When Mr. Vroman died in 1916, he left the bookstore to longtime employees, one of whom was the great grandfather of the current owner.

"Vroman’s Bookstore holds an important place in Southern California’s history. For many years, Vroman’s was the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi, and it continues to be the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California. During World War II, Vroman’s donated and delivered books to Japanese Americans interned at nearby camps, returning on several occasions despite being fired upon by camp guards. Through the years, it has continued to be an independently owned family business, now consisting of two Vroman’s locations, two Vroman’s boutiques located at LAX airport, and an ecommerce site. In 2009, Vroman’s bought another beloved independent bookstore, Book Soup in West Hollywood, after its owner died and the store was in danger of closing....Vroman’s is a Pasadena institution, a literary landmark, a community center, and a wonderful tradition." The photos below are from the Vroman's Bookstore website.

Vintage photo of silver book bus outside of Vroman's BookstoreA well-lit bookstore exterior

University Librarian Kara Whatley and the Vroman’s staff have curated a collection designed specifically for the Caltech community. The collection is focused on academic research and science and technology titles published in the past year. The books are available for review and can be ordered in the TechHub located on the first floor of the Millikan Building. From scholarly monographs—such as Mathematical Models in the Biosciences and Water Resource Technology Management for Engineering Applications—to science-themed nonfiction for a more general audience—such as The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter and Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space—the collection seeks to capture the interests of Caltech students, staff, and faculty. Vroman’s entire inventory will also be available to order for campus delivery twice a week. Books can be picked up at the TechHub and delivery to campus offices is available. 

The Library is pleased to begin this community-building relationship and we look forward to curating additional special collections in the future. Visit Vroman's @ Caltech Library online or in person at the TechHub (first floor of the Millikan Building).