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A Legacy for the Library

A brunette woman wearing glasses, a black t-shirt and an ID on a lanyard smiles to camera while standing in a sunlit field of wildflowers.
A generous gift brought medical education librarian Molly Hemphill to a new role at UCLA, where she helps users of the Biomedical Library become proficient in research methods.

For Molly Hemphill, UCLA’s Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library offers daily opportunities to do what she loves best: empower learners, teachers and researchers.

Molly was appointed a medical education librarian in May 2023. Her hiring was made possible by a gift from a generous UCLA alumna, child development researcher Irla “Lee” Zimmerman Oetzel ’44, MA ’47, PhD ’53.

In the year since she started in this role, Molly has been building the library’s collection and working with faculty on curriculum development. The majority of her time, though, is dedicated to helping library users make the fullest use of the resources available. This enables them to carry out their work as thoroughly and effectively as possible.

“The students I support are extremely smart and hardworking,” Molly said. “They are here at UCLA to gain expertise in their chosen subjects, and my job is to help them also become proficient in research methods. As they navigate the wealth of materials they can draw on for their work, I want to make sure they know how to find exactly what they need.”

The Generosity of an Accomplished Alumna

The research insights and guidance Molly provides to faculty, staff and students are just part of the legacy of Lee Zimmerman Oetzel, a highly accomplished UCLA alumna in the field of psychology.

Oetzel helped create the Preschool Language Scale (PLS), the most widely used preschool language assessment in schools and health care settings in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia.

A copy of the second edition of the assessment is housed in the Biomedical Library. Following its publication, Oetzel would regularly visit the library to read the latest literature and update the PLS test based on her findings.

“Lee always felt very strongly that, had she not gone to UCLA and gleaned knowledge in her undergraduate and graduate work, she would not have had the ability to develop the PLS test,” said Ellen Baskin, Oetzel’s close friend and the trustee of her estate. “She knew and respected the value of hard work, and her wealth came in large part from the PLS test royalties, and so she wanted to give back to UCLA, and specifically to the library, in recognition of all she had learned there.”

Bolstering Research and Resources

In fitting tribute, Oetzel left $2 million in unrestricted funding to help build the biomedical library’s collection of nearly 700,000 print volumes and thousands of electronic journals, databases and other materials. These resources are invaluable to UCLA students, faculty and medical staff following in her studious footsteps.

“I am extremely grateful to Lee for this gift that allows for the broadest impact to benefit our biomedical library,” said Athena N. Jackson, Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian. “Her confidence in UCLA Library’s ability to strategically build, maintain, preserve and promote biomedical collections increases our ability to support and sustain current and future research at a time when inflation and other factors are pushing up costs.”

UCLA’s biomedical library seeks to be a positive force by tackling misinformation, diversifying its collections and helping researchers meet federal guidelines for the availability of their data. Oetzel’s generosity is powering progress in all these areas and more. With her forward thinking, Oetzel left future generations of Bruins with the inspiration and the means to pursue and create knowledge ― just as she did.

To learn more, contact

Stephanie Kimura310-206-8551


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