Books for Californians

Books for Californians

“This [county library] system is designed to give library service to the people of the county as a unit: and its success, so far, has in every way justified its existence.” – State Librarian James Gillis, 1911

California without libraries – such was the case a little more than a hundred years ago, with the exception of a few private and city libraries. The California State Library (CSL) was instrumental in creating California’s county library system. Few of the millions of Californians today who benefit from this program realize the major role the CSL had in its creation.

In 1900, the Library opened its collections to the general public, but this did little for Californians who could not travel to Sacramento. Beginning in 1903, the Extension Department of Traveling Libraries made the holdings available to the wider public. Legislation in 1909 and 1911 helped to establish California’s county library system as well as a training program for librarians to staff these libraries. The first branch was opened in 1908, and by 1915 there were 23.

California State Capitol Museum – Out of the Vault

This is a website specifically for the “Out of the Vault: Treasures from Your California State Library” Exhibit which runs May 30, 2016 – April 23, 2017 at the California State Capitol Museum.

For Museum-related information such as contacts, hours and location: Visit