The John C. Pace Library opened in September 1967 when classes began at the University of West Florida. Its namesake, John C. Pace, was a prominent supporter of higher education in West Florida and first chairman of the State Board of Regents. At the time of opening, its collection of 100,000 volumes was one of the largest ever for a new institution of higher education in the Southeast U.S.
In the original building, the first floor was a breezeway but in 1977, due to the increasing space needs, the breezeways were walled in and the Admissions Department moved to a new building. In 1981, the Post Office and Duplicating moved from the building, and the basement was remodeled for Special Collections and administrative offices.
A further expansion occurred in September 1995, with the addition of the east side structure with its distinctive curved first and second floors and four-story stairwell. The fifth floor, used for University functions since 1967, became part of the library in 2010, and is the home of Skylab, the Library's student-supported technology center.
The library also supports two satellite libraries - the Professional Studies Library in Building 86, and the Emerald Coast Library at Fort Walton Beach. In addition, library investments in electronic databases permit students to access library information wherever they reside or take classes.
Among the library's unique strengths are the U.S. Government Publications available to all citizens of West Florida as well as the West Florida historical collections of rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other materials documenting the region from European settlement to the present.