Established in 1850, the California State Library is the oldest continuously operated public library in the American West and is the central reference and research library for state government and the Legislature. The library collection includes more than 4 million titles, 6,000 maps, and 250,000 photographs. It has an extensive collection of documents from and about the state’s rich history and is one of the major genealogical reference libraries on the West Coast. It also holds significant collections from Mexico, the United Kingdom and Europe, with manuscripts dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The State Library is both a State and Federal Depository Library, providing free and open access to government information, and is a U.S. Patent and Trademark Resource Center. It is home to the Bernard E. Witkin State Law Library and the Braille and Talking Book Library. It also directs state and federal funds to support local public libraries and statewide library programs and services.
The California State Library, a California public research institution, serves the people of California in many ways.
We have a number of sections that offer services to state government, the library community, and the public.
In 1850, California's new legislature, seeing that the state's facts, figures, and documents needed to be in a central location, established the California State Library in the State Capitol.