SCC Names Library After Author Joan Didion
October 25, 2023
Sacramento City College (SCC) will be renaming the college’s library in honor of renowned author Joan Didion. The building will now be known as the Joan Didion Learning Resource Center, in recognition of a generous $500,000 gift from Didion family and the Sacramento Historical Society (SHS). The decision was approved by the Los Rios Community College Board of Trustees at their October 18, 2023 meeting.
“What a great honor it is to name our college’s Learning Resource Center after Joan Didion,” says Sacramento City College President Albert Garcia. “We’re proud that she started her college career here. Her status as an author of international renown, as a creative and incisive thinker, makes her a wonderful inspiration for our college community.”
Born in Sacramento in 1934, Didion attended Sacramento City College briefly in the 1950s. The gift from her family and SHS will support writing scholarships for students as well as faculty research programs that align with the late author’s intellectual interests.
“Attending SCC was important to Joan, and we believe she would have been thrilled to support the scholarship for promising young writers who may not otherwise have the opportunity to be recognized,” says Kelley Didion Peters, Didion’s niece. Peters has been handling Didion’s estate with her siblings, Steve Didion and Lori Didion Hunt.
It is the family’s hope, Peters says, that the Joan Didion Learning Resource Center and the programs being funded by the gift will serve as a “living legacy” to her aunt that will benefit many future generations of students to come.
“On behalf of my siblings, I wish to thank the Sacramento Historical Society for not only facilitating this gift to the writing scholarship, but having the vision to bring other promising programs to students at Sacramento City College,” Peters says. “We also thank Sac City for its decision to rename the learning center to further her legacy as a former student and Sacramento native.”
Didion passed away in December 2021 at the age of 87. In 2022, the SHS launched an effort to honor her life and legacy, which included the establishment of the Joan Didion Scholarship for Writers at SCC in July 2022 with a gift of $40,000.
When members of the Didion family became aware of these efforts, they decided to commit their own funding via an auction of Joan Didion’s personal effects that took place in November 2022. The Didion family generously made a major gift to SHS with the request that a specific portion of the gift be directed to Sacramento City College to support the writing scholarship as well as other programs consistent with Joan Didion’s legacy.
“We are grateful for the partnership with Sacramento City College and elated to see the Joan Didion Learning Resource Center come to fruition,” says SHS President Walt White. “Sacramento was Joan’s childhood home and where she spent her formative years. It is so important that we recognize this woman, whose literary contributions have elevated the perspectives of all of those who have been exposed to her work.”
SHS pledged $460,000 to augment their existing funding for a total gift of $500,000 that will create the Endowment to Honor the Legacy of Joan Didion at Sacramento City College. SHS and SCC will also partner on academic programs and events that honor Joan Didion in the years to come.
In her lifetime, Didion received national and international acclaim and numerous honors for her accomplishments as an essayist, journalist, and author of incomparable fiction. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1981 and won the National Book Award for her book “The Year of Magical Thinking.”