CSL Introduction


“Feeling an anxious desire for the promotion of education and the establishment of a State Library at the Capitol of the State…I respectfully beg leave by the presentation of these books to contribute my mite towards the accomplishment of so desirable an object.” – Colonel Jonathan D. Stevens, 1849

Beginning in 1849, Gold Rush California saw the arrival of hundreds of thousand miners, many of whom were literate and educated. These readers desperately sought anything they could find – months old newspapers or the odd rare book. Before long, the first bookstores and private libraries were established to meet the ever growing need for, as one newspaper put it, “the Gold of the Mind.”


The California State Library grew from humble beginnings on the far edge of the Western frontier. After the state government rose out of the chaos of the Gold Rush in 1850, the State Legislature had the vision to establish a library for the new state. It would be the first institution of its type in the American West.

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 capitolmuseum.ca.gov.