The UT Austin campus library system holds nearly eight million volumes, ranking it as the fifth largest library among academic institutions in the United States, and the eleventh largest overall in the country.
Planning and funding for the PCL were approved in 1972, a construction contract was awarded in early 1974 to Stokes Construction Company, and the facility was opened to the public in 1977. The Perry–Castañeda Library is named for two former University professors, Ervin S. Perry and Carlos E. Castañeda. Professor Perry was the first African American to be appointed to the academic rank of professor and Professor Castañeda played a central role in the early development of the Benson Latin American Collection.
It has long been claimed that the Perry-Castaneda Library was designed to appear, when seen from above, in the shape of Texas. This is officially denied by the University, which has stated: "If you look at a campus map the right way and use your imagination, it’s possible to think of the outline of the library as similar to the shape of Texas. But this wasn’t intentional. Officially it’s called a “rhomboid shape,” and it complements the similarly designed Graduate School of Business building across the street, which was completed the same year."
The PCL is an example of brutalist architecture and has been recognized as Austin's best example of this architectural style.
PCL was the site of a shooting on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Police reports state that student Colton Tooley fired shots on his walk from Guadalupe Street to the library's front entrance. He ascended to the sixth floor where he took his own life in the northeast corner of the topmost floor of the library and thirty feet from the children's book section. No one else was injured, except for one sprained ankle suffered by a female student fleeing the scene. There were reports of a second gunman and authorities locked down the entire campus for several hours until they were able to determine the reports were false.
- "Nation's Largest Libraries by Volumes Held". Nation's Largest Libraries. LibrarySpot. 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-24.
- "History - Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL)". University of Texas Libraries. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "UT Myths and Legends, Debunked". The Alcalde. Ex-Students' Association of The University of Texas.
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