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Inventory of the California State Library Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Agency History
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: State Library Records
    Dates: 1861-1982
    Collection number: F3616
    Creator: State Library
    Creator/Collector: Department of Finance, Division of Libraries
    Creator/Collector: Department of Education, Division of Libraries
    Collection Size: 40 cubic feet and 66 volumes
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], State Library Records, F3616:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The California State Archives acquired the State Library Records as required by state law.

    Agency History

    The roots of the State Library date to 1850 when a law was passed which provided that all books belonging to the state would be maintained by the Secretary of State (Stats. 1850, c. 69). In 1852 a library fund was established for making book purchases and a Board of Directors was created consisting of the Governor, Treasurer, Controller, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the Assembly (Stats. 1852, c. 5).
    This arrangement continued until 1861 when the Library was placed under the control of a five-member Board of Trustees (Stats. 1861, c. 52). The Board was to consist of the Governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and three members at large. Elected by the Legislature, the latter three were to hold office for four years. The Political Code of 1872 modified this by specifying that five at large members were to be elected by the Legislature. In 1899 this was again changed when a law required members to be appointed by the Governor (Stats. 1899, c. 31).
    The powers and duties of the Board of Trustees were transferred to the Dept. of Finance in 1921 (Stats. 1921, c. 603). A Division of Libraries, headed by the State Librarian, was created within the department. In 1927 this division was transferred to the Dept. of Education. The division designation was dropped in state publications in 1985 in favor of State Library.
    From at least the 1860s, the Library was divided into three departments: law, general, and miscellaneous. The General Department was not recognized as an administrative unit, but a loose organization of certain operations, including purchasing, accessioning, and cataloging as well as budgets and reports. By 1910 most of the functions usually associated with the Library, albeit under different names, had emerged, including Books for the Blind, California Section, Reference, Library Development Services, Government Publications, and Legislative Reference.
    A Books for the Blind Division was first created in 1905 under the Extension Dept. When this department folded in 1911, a Books for the Blind Dept. emerged, becoming a section in 1931. The name changed to Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in 1969. In 1985 the program became the Braille and Talking Book Library.
    Materials relating to California were first organized separately in 1898 as a Newspaper Dept. Four years later this evolved into a California Historical Dept. and then a California Dept. (1908). As is true with all departments, California became a section in 1931.
    Reference services were early divided into two areas: reference provided for the Legislature and reference for state agencies. Legislative reference was first offered through the Sociological Dept. created in 1904. In 1910 the name changed to Legislative and Municipal Reference Dept. This organization lasted but a short time as the department was abolished in 1911. For the next six years the legislative reference function was handled by the Documents Dept. In 1917 a new Legislative Reference Dept. emerged becoming the Law and Legislative Reference Dept. in 1919. By the 1950s an Administrative and Legislative Reference Services unit had been formed. This became a section in 1965.
    In 1903 a Dept. of Traveling Libraries was formed to handle agency demand for books and periodicals. This became a division in the Extension Dept. in 1905. By 1906 the Reference and Loan Dept. had been created which, in turn, became a Reference Dept. (1908), Reference Section (1931), and Reference Services (1981).
    As early as 1905 the Library assumed responsibility for assisting local libraries throughout the state. In that year a Public Libraries Division was created in the Extension Dept. This became significant in 1909 when the County Free Library Law (Stats. 1909, c. 479) provided for the establishment of county library systems and placed supervision in the hands of the State Librarian. Though this law was repealed in part in 1911, the Library continued to provide assistance to public libraries. By the 1950s this task fell to Field Services and, in 1963, to Library Consultant Services. A Development Services was created in 1975 followed in 1981 by a Library Development Services Bureau.
    Government publications were first managed by a Documents Dept. in 1909. This was combined with another program in 1911, but later emerged as the Government Documents Dept. in 1917 and a section in 1931. By the 1950s the name had been changed to Government Publications.
    As noted above, a Law Dept. was created in the early 1860s. In 1919 it was merged with the Legislative Reference Dept. which became a section in 1931. By the 1950s this section had split into its two components and a Law Section was formed. The term Law Library seems to have appeared in state publications at least as early as 1962 when the Law Section became one of four operating bureaus.
    A separate Catalog Dept. existed at least by 1904 and probably earlier. In that year the Library issued its first dictionary catalog using Library of Congress standards. The first printed catalog appeared in 1889 with the first card catalog showing up a year later. In 1981 the Catalog Section became the Cataloging Section.
    As with cataloging, it is difficult to trace the creation of the Order Dept. Certainly, it existed by 1906 and likely much earlier. In 1960 the Order Section became the Acquisitions Section.
    Other departments and functions have existed over the years. By the late 1920s both a Periodicals and Prints Department existed. The Periodicals Section was subsumed by the Catalog Section in 1933, but reappeared as a separate entity in the 1950s. The Print Section became a Prints and Exhibits Section in the 1950s. A Book Repair Section was created sometime in the 1940s and was abolished in 1975. In 1982 this function became a part of the Preservation Office. The Sutro Library in San Francisco dates to 1913 when the original gift was accepted by the Board of Trustees. The Sutro opened for business in 1917 and has moved several times over the years.
    Many of the changes in the Library's internal organization over time may be traced to the increasing use of administrative layers reflecting growth in programs. When the Library became too large to be directly supervised by the State Librarian and Assistant, other administrative positions were created. When this first occurred is hard to pinpoint, but certainly by the 1920s the departments had heads or chiefs which later became known as Supervising Librarians. In turn, by the 1950s, various sections were grouped together and supervised by Principal Librarians. The State Librarian has always been appointed directly by the Governor, but since 1927 has functioned as a Division Chief in the Dept. of Education.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Library circulation and loans--California
    Libraries--Special collections--California
    Libraries for the blind--California
    Library administration--California