$2 million gift advances mission of UCLA Library’s Biomedical Library

Lee Oetzel The UCLA Library has received a $2 million gift from the estate of Irla “Lee” Zimmerman Oetzel, a triple Bruin who culminated her UCLA studies by earning a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1953. The unrestricted gift will help the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library build, maintain, preserve and promote its collection of nearly 700,000 print volumes and thousands of electronic resources including journals, databases, and other materials.

“Lee’s bequest reflects her professional background and appreciation for her time spent conducting extensive research in the Biomedical Library, both as a student and in recent years with intermittent reference requests,” said Virginia Steel, the Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian. “The Library is extremely grateful to Lee and her estate for this generous gift, and with it, the opportunity to achieve the Library’s new strategic directions more quickly.”

Oetzel’s gift will advance UCLA’s teaching, research, and patient-care related mission. The Biomedical Library is a crucial resource for students, faculty, and medical staff from across campus, including the David Geffen School of Medicine, the Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health, the Schools of Dentistry and Nursing, the Life Sciences division of the College of Letters and Sciences, related institutes in biomedicine, and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. 

A Southern California resident for most of her life and a longtime Biomedical Library supporter, Oetzel’s legacy includes notable research which led to the creation of Preschool Language Scale (PLS), a norm-referenced developmental language assessment used to assess receptive and expressive language skills for children from birth through age 7. Oetzel, the senior author, developed the test with two colleagues – a speech therapist and an early childhood educator she met while working as a consultant for Head Start, a federally-funded child development program. The first version of the test was published in 1969. Biomed houses a copy of the revised second edition from 1979; the fifth edition was published in 2011. The PLS-5 is the most widely used preschool language assessment in schools and healthcare settings in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

During her life, Oetzel was an avid birder, and often combined this passion with her love of world travel.