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The Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics Library was founded in 1930 from a grant made by the Bancitaly Corporation to the University of California in tribute to its organizer and for many years its president, Amadeo Peter Giannini of San Francisco. One-third of the grant was used to construct Giannini Hall where the offices of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy and the Reference Library are currently located. The other two-thirds constituted the original endowment fund of the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. The annual income supports the Library and the research activities of the Giannini Foundation members which include the Faculty and Cooperative Extension Economists in the field of agricultural and environmental economics on the University of California campuses of Berkeley, Davis, and Riverside.

The Giannini Foundation Research Library was the oldest university Agricultural Economics Library in the United States and had an extensive and rare collection of materials in agricultural and environmental economics. The Research Library's collection consisted of nearly, 200,000 items in a variety of formats.

The first librarian, Orpha E. Cummings, 1930-1958, organized the initial collection, and devised the cataloging and filing system. The continual building and refinement of collection were carried out by the succeeding librarians: Mary Lida Eakin, 1958-1967; Virginia A. Fox, 1965-1980; Grace Dote, October 1970-July 2002; and Susan Garbarino, 2002- January 2010.

For more about A.P.Giannini, including his influence on the banking industry and the history of California, see one of these biographies:

Bonadio, Felice A. A.P. Giannini : banker of America Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Available in the Giannini Foundation Reading Room HG2463/G5B6/1994

James, Marquis. Biography of a bank : the story of Bank of America N.T. & S.A. New York: Harper & Row, 1954. Available in the Giannini Foundation Reading Room HG2613/S44B29

Fred Carstensen. "Giannini, Amadeo Peter" American National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2000. (Link available only to UCB users.)