"We feel safe in saying that there is no attraction at our State Capitol more worthy of the pride of our growing state than the State Library." – Mining & Scientific Press, January 9, 1864
From the beginning of recorded history, libraries have served as the constant companion of civilization. From clay tablets of the Middle East to the bamboo scrolls of China and the bark books of Mexico, libraries and the collections they house have helped to define and shape the cultural achievements of humanity. Likewise, for a century and a half, the California State Library has made important contributions to the Golden State's own, unique civilization.
Book collection of the South Lake Branch, Inyo County Library, c. 1910s.
The California State Library (CSL) is the oldest continuously operated library in the American West. Originally established in 1850 as a reference library for the State Legislature, it has grown into a major collection and repository for the state. The State Library is a venerable, pioneering institution that was built by the government for the use of the people of the Golden State.
Siskiyou County library float, 1937.
Children reading in the Willows Library, Glenn Library, 1910s.