Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


About the QR Code Tour of the Library

At the Henry Madden Library, you will find QR codes scattered throughout the building.  These codes provide information on various features and displays in both the north and south wings of the Library.

The same content from the tour is included below and showcases some of the most interesting points about the building and the people who have made the Library what is today.  

If you would like to take the QR Code Tour while you're visiting the Library in person, here is what you'll need to do: 

  1. Go to your smart phone's app store and download a QR code reader
  2. Open the app and scan or take a photo of the code to learn more about that particular point of interest

Here's an example of what the QR Code Tour signs look like:  







Keep an eye out for them at various points of interest around the Library. 

1. Foyer

Here in the foyer, the basket motif surrounds the walls and covers the ceiling in accents of wood tones common to the region. The granite stone entryway is an artistic replication of the stair-step basket pattern constructed of Academy Black and Sierra White granite from quarries in Clovis and Raymond. The design, inspired by a Choinumni basket from the Table Mountain Rancheria museum collection, was carefully constructed and laid stone by stone to ensure the accuracy of the pattern.

2. Native Garden

The Native American Garden features plants, trees, and grasses indigenous to the Valley with soil brought in specifically for this vegetation, surrounded by walls with locally quarried granite. The names of the plants and tools used in traditional basket weaving are etched in the walls in three languages—Western Mono, Yokuts, and English.  

3. Peace Garden

Originally dedicated in 1990, renovated in 2008, and rededicated on Earth Day in 2009, the Peace Garden is a part of the new library project with enhanced walkways, pathways to the monuments, new seating, and new plantings.  Through combined efforts of students, faculty, staff, and administration at Fresno State along with members of the Native American community, the Peace Garden is a beautiful area of serenity.  It includes several statues of luminaries such as Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jane Addams along with the Native Plant Garden and the Dean Richard D. Ford Memorial Grove.  This area offers a place for individuals and groups to rest and contemplate the issues that confront humanity.

4. Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery

The emblematic architectural feature of the Henry Madden Library building is the elliptical glass and steel tower rising from the ground floor through the fourth floor. Inside, this iconic element on the second floor is a 3,200-square-foot gallery named in 2009 in honor of Leon S. Peters, a highly respected local business leader and philanthropist. The gallery is used for exhibitions, receptions, lectures, musical performances, and other campus related programs.

The main feature of the space is a 20-foot tall curved glass wall embellished with distinctive cross-hatching, which creates a dramatic design suggesting the Indian basketry motifs used throughout the building. You may notice the carpet here is different from the flame stitch pattern carpet tiles of the more heavily trafficked areas. The mosaic pattern of this silk-like broadloom carpet was specially designed for our building.  Note that throughout the Library the walls, flooring and furnishing use earth tones common to the Valley’s palette.

5. Centennial Steinway

The 1876 Centennial Steinway grand piano was created for the Centennial of the U.S.  This model is the earliest modern concert grand Steinway ever built (only 424 were built, from 1875 to 1883).  This is also the same model displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, where it was commended for the "greatest concert capacity" and the highest degree of excellence in purity of tone, carrying capacity, mechanical precision, and frame construction.

This grand piano was left in the auditorium of the Old Administration Building at the former Fresno State College campus (now Fresno City College) in the 1950s until the 1960s and was considered junk (covered with layers of white house paint) until Earl Whitfield, director of the newly constructed Student Union, decided to have the grand piano refurbished and put in the Union for students to play.

From 1976 to 2002, the piano was exhibited as part of the Smithsonian's Bicentennial exhibition in Washington, D.C., and viewed by millions of people. Returned by the Smithsonian to the Music Department in 2002, the piano sat in storage (unplayed and “unplayable”) for years.  It was donated to the Library by the College of Arts and Humanities in 2008.

In 2009 and 2010, the piano was completely restored by Steinway & Sons in New York with a new sound board, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and through the joint efforts of the Library and the College of Arts and Humanities.  The piano is used for concerts in the Leon S. Peters Ellipse and can be enjoyed by everyone.

6. Yokuts baskets

In September 2009, Fresno State alumni Charles and Janice Bell of Arizona presented to the Madden Library five early 20th century Yokuts baskets from the Tulare region. Their gift complements the architectural design of the library building, which employs many local Native American basketry motifs. The large cooking basket features a traditional step pattern design.  An abstract version of this pattern was used in the design of the granite floor of the foyer.

7. Table Mountain Rancheria Reading Room

This is a place for quiet contemplation, reading, and study. The special glass walls were created through a patented process called Panelite, designed to filter the light and create a lens effect when looking through the glass with the honeycomb core. The benches are in black cherry wood and were custom made by Maine cabinetmaker Thomas Mosher. The glass murals tell the story of the people and history of the Table Mountain Rancheria.  Emily Sample (the woman in the mural next to the car) was born where the campus now resides.  

8. Video of Lois Connor

This video of Lois Connor, master basket weaver, shows her weaving a basket using traditional methods through the course of an entire year. Except in the summer months, the video runs continuously and can be seen on the inside of the Library near the north glass wall or outside on the 32-by-15 foot Mediamesh digital curtain facing the Peace Garden.

9. Table from David Martin

This table was designed by David Martin, principal architect of the library building, along with some of his colleagues from A.C. Martin Partners, Inc. in Los Angeles. The wood came from a fallen tree in Fish Camp. The wood was prepared in Fresno in a 100-year-old historic wood shop, and the base was fabricated in Los Angeles. The design represents nature and technology, both literally and figuratively. Mr. Martin presented the “tree table” to the Library in 2009.

10. Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony

This 1,800 square foot, crescent-shaped balcony overlooks the Ellipse Gallery.  It serves as an exhibition gallery and may be used also for lectures, musical performances, and other programming.  Many of the exhibitions shown here feature the work of Art Department students and faculty.  In 2009, the balcony gallery was named for Pete P. Peters, a highly principled business leader and generous community benefactor.

11. Agnes Tobin

Agnes Tobin was the first permanent full-time librarian appointed for Fresno State (then Fresno State Normal School).  She started in 1914, initially serving as a hygiene instructor, but was soon appointed to the post of librarian in addition to serving as supervisor of penmanship.  Until 1923, she was the college’s only librarian, but by the time she retired in 1948 she supervised a staff of eight librarians and two clerks.  She also oversaw the growth of the book collection from 1,120 volumes to over 65,000.    

12. Henry Madden

Henry Miller Madden was the College Librarian for thirty years, from 1949 to 1979. His life was one of notable accomplishment as both a librarian and a scholar. He did graduate work at Stanford, Columbia, and the Royal Hungarian University in Budapest and finished his doctoral dissertation at Columbia. He obtained a Master's of Library Science from the University of California at Berkeley and was appointed College Librarian at Fresno State (then Fresno State College, renamed California State University, Fresno, in 1972) soon after. During his tenure as College Librarian, the collection grew from approximately 70,000 volumes (mostly on elementary and secondary education) to 576,000 volumes (on a wide range of subjects befitting a university).  He was president of the California Library Association and editor of California Librarian. Madden's historical scholarship was meticulous and extensive. He wrote four books and innumerable articles, commentaries, and editorials and was a tireless champion of intellectual freedom.

13. Lillie Parker

Lillie Parker started working in the library at Fresno State in 1951 as a Junior Librarian.  She rose through the ranks over the years to become Associate College Librarian in 1968, and when Dr. Madden retired in 1979, she was appointed University Librarian.  In this capacity, she oversaw construction of the then-new South Wing of the Library and the creation of an advocates group, the Madden Library Associates (now The Friends of the Madden Library). She retired in 1988.

14. Michael Gorman

Michael Gorman was appointed as the Dean of Library Services in 1988. Prior to arriving at Fresno State he worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was co-editor of the first and second editions of Anglo American Cataloguing Rules and sole editor of The Concise AACR2.  He oversaw the creation of the library’s first online catalog, as well as the acquisition of its one millionth volume. He supervised the early phases of the new library’s construction, including the demolition of the old North Wing and transfer of the books to off-site storage.  He also served as president of the American Library Association during his tenure as dean.  Michael Gorman retired in 2007.

Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald served as the Dean of Library Services at the Henry Madden Library from February 2007 through graduation day 2017. In those 10 years, he oversaw the construction and opening of the new Madden Library in 2009, with its emphasis on “library as space” that welcomed all students to experience it as the very hub of the University. He championed innovative and expanded use of technology, information literacy, improved services to patrons in all arenas and, before he left, the implementation of a new Unified Library Management System. Throughout his years as dean, McDonald was also recognized as a strong advocate for community outreach, making the Madden Library a renowned destination as an important cultural hub in the Central Valley highlighting world-class exhibitions, topical programs, literary readings and other cultural events and performances. Prior to Fresno State, McDonald served as AUL for Collection Development at Syracuse University, and before that, at Cornell, as the Library Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

Peter McDonald

15. Remington statues

Replicas of Frederic Remington’s bronze Western statues are scattered throughout the South Wing of the Library.  Donated by former Fresno State Geography professor John Crosby in the 1990s, the statues depict life in the Old West.  

16. Old printing press

This is a hand printing press machine from around 1869. Created by R. Hoe & Co. in New York, this machine most likely came to the Library in the 1960s from the Industrial Arts department, which got it years before from an old printing shop in town. The press is no longer operational as it is missing some key parts. 

17. Leo Politi Garden

The Leo Politi Garden on the east side of the Henry Madden Library was created to honor the friendship between celebrated children's author and illustrator Leo Politi and Professor Arne Nixon, whose collection and estate established the Library's Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children's Literature.  The dedication ceremony for the Leo Politi Garden was held on June 2, 2010.  Designed by local landscape architect Robert Boro, the garden was funded by ANCA, the Arne Nixon Center Advocates. ANCA is the support group for the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.

Politi, who was born in Fresno in 1908, lived most of his adult life in Los Angeles, but returned many times to speak for workshops put on by Dr. Nixon. His most well-known book was Song of the Swallows, which in 1950 won the prestigious Caldecott Medal for best illustrated children's picture book. Politi's books were also known for featuring ethnic minorities, which was fairly uncommon at the time and echoes a theme within the Arne Nixon Center. 

The garden is meant to be a beautiful space for quiet contemplation for all. 

18. Did you know?

The Library has over 8 acres of floor space and is the largest CSU library in the Central Valley.

Funding for the $95 million Library was made possible by a 2005 education bond (Proposition 55).

There are over 3 million tons of steel in this building

The Henry Madden Library has seating for 3,500 students and visitors.

On the outside, hundreds of precast concrete panels imprinted with abstract patterns represent aerial views of the Valley’s agricultural lands.

This building is named after Henry Madden, College Librarian from 1949 to 1979; the original library building occupied this spot until it was razed in 2006.

The Starbucks in the Library is one of the busiest and most profitable in Fresno.

You can play video games in the Library; the Gaming Room is in Studio 2 (room 2133D).