Expansion of CSL

"The time has come when California might well consider following the example of several other states in the matter of providing a building for the State Library." – State Librarian James Gillis, 1910

As government expanded, the California State Capitol, including the State Library, became more crowded. The call for the Library's expansion came in the first decade of the 20th century to construct a separate library building as part of the "Greater Capitol Extension."

Work on the façade of the Library and Courts Building nears completion, c. 1925
Work on the façade of the Library and Courts Building nears completion, c. 1925.

However, construction was delayed for over two decades. Begun in 1924, the 200,000(?) square foot, Beaux Arts style structure, as well as its sister State Building No. 1, was dedicated in 1928. Known today as the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, it went through an extensive, two year restoration project, ending in 2013.

Gillis Hall, the main reading room in the recently completed Library and Courts Building, c. 1928
Gillis Hall, the main reading room in the recently completed Library and Courts Building, c. 1928.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the heirs of Adolf Sutro, former mayor of that city, donated his collection of 91,000 volumes to the State Library in 1913. That collection is the heart of the J. Paul Leonard-Sutro Library, now housed on the campus of San Francisco State University.

Evidence of water damage at the Sutro Library in San Francisco, 1956
Evidence of water damage at the Sutro Library in San Francisco, 1956.


Napa County Library “Bookmobile” in front of the Library and Courts Building, c.1940
Napa County Library “Bookmobile” in front of the Library and Courts Building, c.1940.


Start of construction on the Library and Courts Building, c.1924
Start of construction on the Library and Courts Building, c.1924.


Sculptor Edward Field Sanford, Jr. examining his work on the pediment of the Library and Courts Building, late 1920s
Sculptor Edward Field Sanford, Jr. examining his work on the pediment of the Library and Courts Building, late 1920s.