Library for International and Public Affairs History

The Library for International and Public Affairs History is a collection-based, service-oriented research and learning center dedicated to greater public understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live. The library strives to be a comprehensive learning laboratory consisting of collections, instructional programs, and research initiatives that serve the growing needs of a diverse community of researchers within the campus community, Southern California region, and beyond.


The origins of the library can be traced back to the founding of the World Affairs Collection in the 1930s, under USC's fifth president, Dr. Rufus B. Von KleinSmid, who began acquiring documents from the League of Nations. Over time, the USC Libraries continued to develop great strengths in the area of published works from the United Nations, SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), European Union, and other international organizations in support of the School of International Relations.

In 1966, the Von KleinSmid Center for International and Public Affairs was built under the direction of American modernist architect Edward Durrell Stone with space included for a library in the building's lower level. University Librarian Dr. Lewis F. Steig declared that USC's World Affairs Library was one of the outstanding collections of its kind in the country. He emphasized that only the Littauer Center at Harvard and Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University were comparable.

The library housed the 90,000-volume World Affairs Collection and more than 35,000 additional volumes of materials in the areas of public administration and political science. These two programs, along with the Research Institute on Communist Strategy and Propaganda, were also incorporated into the Von KleinSmid Center for International and Public Affairs. Over the next twenty years the collections nearly doubled in size, in response to increasing curricular and research demands of the School of Public Administration, the School of Urban Planning and Development, and the Department of Political Science.

In the mid-2000s, the library was repositioned as an interdisciplinary center for international and urban initiatives, paralleling the university's overall strategic goals. As the twenty-first century marches on, the library continues to grow, especially its digital resources. Several new databases have been added, such as the complete full-text of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Reports, the Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, Water Resources Abstracts, and the ProQuest Congressional Hearings Digital Collection. In addition, the geography collection formally housed in Doheny Library was added. Reflecting a commitment to enhance outreach and public service, the positions of Social Sciences Data Librarian and Public Affairs Librarian were created and filled. In January 2011, a significant portion of the US government documents collection was relocated into new compact shelving in the library.

On April 11, 2022, a ceremony was held by USC President Carol Folt to rename the former VKC complex the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs, named after the World War II hero and war chief of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation and a distinguished alum of USC.