After nearly 50 years JPL still essential to student success

(June 2, 2023)

Exterior of John Peace Library

Today officially marks the 47th anniversary of the John Peace Library’s (JPL) opening to UTSA students and faculty. This milestone was recently highlighted by students from the College of Liberal and Fine Arts (COLFA) Digital Marketing Internship program, who chose to focus on the JPL and its impact on the university community for their 2023 Spring semester class project.

The library has been an essential fixture of the UTSA experience, thanks to John R. Peace II, an attornxey and active member of the San Antonio community, who sat on the University of Texas System Board of Regents and served as its chairman from 1971-1973. He led the efforts to bring a four-year public university to San Antonio. UTSA was founded in 1969, and the first class convened in 1973.

Ruby Peace
UTSA President Peter T. Flawn presents a memorial resolution honoring the late John Peace, to his widow, Ruby Peace, in December 1974. The resolution was passed by the UTSA faculty on November 22, 1974. The Regents named the John Peace Library on Dec. 13, 1974. Gil Barrera Photographs of the University of Texas at San Antonio, MS 27.

In 1973, Peace donated an extensive collection of books, maps and documents dating from the Spanish colonial period of Texas up to 1824, the Mexican period from 1824 to 1836, and the period from Texas’ annexation to the U.S. up to UTSA’s founding. He passed away in August 1974, and by December of that same year, the Board of Regents agreed to officially dedicate the new library building to be named in his honor.

The JPL, one of the original five university buildings, was completed in late 1975 and was UTSA’s largest building at 225,891 square feet. It comprised four floors containing resources, study spaces, academic support services and a food court. When the library opened on June 2, 1976, it housed some 350,000 volumes – 200,000 on microfilm – and had study space available to accommodate about 1,300 students.

UTSA Libraries and Museum administration remain creative and innovative to keep up with more than 35,000 tech-savvy students.

“The library regularly surveys the UTSA community to solicit, understand and act upon users' opinions on library facilities, collections and services,” said Dean Hendrix, UTSA vice provost and university librarian. “Students have called us the “heart” of the campus, which we love. This sentiment drives us to continue to make positive differences that foster success."

Data from these biennial surveys has resulted in more quiet study spaces, improved Wi-Fi and a reservation system for group study rooms. Additionally, the responses from the 2017 and 2019 surveys spurred the Libraries to add 80 new windows, re-arrange and remove stacks and turn the third floor into a brighter, airier place to study and enjoy.

“I think most students don’t realize how much we have to offer beyond just books and learning spaces,” said Matt Hayward, subject specialist librarian.

Libraries’ services are central to student and faculty success. Some of the Libraries’ most highly used services include Get It for Me, a delivery service in which staff will find books, online articles and e-documents at student and faculty request; Ask Me Anything, a chat reference service that allows students and faculty to talk to a live person; course reserves; and librarian consultations for research and learning.

Explore Further

Read more about the History of UTSA Libraries.

Learn about more UTSA Libraries services.