The California State Library collects, preserves, generates and disseminates a wide array of information. It was founded in 1850 by the California State Legislature. Today, it is the central reference and research library for state government and the Legislature. The California State Library advises, consults with and provides technical assistance to California's public libraries. It directs state and federal funds to support local public libraries and statewide library programs. The California State Library's mission is to serve as "...the state’s information hub, preserving California’s cultural heritage and connecting people, libraries and government to the resources and tools they need to succeed and to build a strong California." With the exception of the Sutro Library in the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University, the other three branches are located in Sacramento, California, at 914 Capitol Mall, 900 N Street and at the State Capitol.
The California State Library makes a wide range of services available to Californians. The library provides reference services to visitors of the library, as well as those contacting the California State Library via phone, fax, letter, email or TDD. Visitors are welcome to use the California State Library collections on site. The California State Library's circulating materials are loaned to the public through local libraries. Other services include Braille and recorded books, use of computers with internet access, online access to the library catalogs, and California state information.
The library uses the OCLC Symbols CAX and SUTRO.
There are eight sections of the California State Library: the Bernard E. Witkin State Law Library, Braille and Talking Book Library, the California History Room, the California Research Bureau, Government Publications, Information Services, Library Development Services Bureau, and the Sutro Library.
The Law Library collection contains standard primary and secondary legal resources in American law. Materials in the collection include federal and state appellate court decisions, session laws, codes/statutes, federal agency decisions, and Attorney General opinions of the U.S. and the fifty jurisdictions. These primary sources are supplemented by federal digests, the Pacific Digest, federal and regional citators, legal encyclopedias, law journals and periodicals, and current practice materials.
This service is affiliated with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. It loans recorded and Braille books and magazines to Northern Californians who cannot read standard print due to visual or physical limitations. Special players to listen to the books are also loaned. The reading room houses assistive devices such as print magnifiers and scanners with voice output. The borrowing of materials in this collection is limited to eligible customers specially registered for the service.
The California History Room has current and historical information on California people, places and events. Materials in the collection include California phone books and city directories, California periodicals, newspapers and newspaper indexes, information files, pioneer letters, and information on California genealogy. One special collection available here that is not limited to California is the American Haiku Archives, which includes books, papers, letters, and other material relating to haiku poetry by poets from around North America. This archive is the world's largest public collection of haiku and related materials outside Japan.
The California Research Bureau prepares in-depth research reports on policy questions of interest to state officials. These non-partisan reports examine a broad spectrum of research and policy options and do not advocate a particular viewpoint. Each report includes essential background information, key data developed by CRB and other researchers, and a summary of the policy debate.
The Government Publications section also includes a full federal depository library and the state’s largest collection of California state government publications. The section serves as the sole regional depository for, and largest collection of, federal documents in California. It receives all publications distributed by the U.S. Superintendent of Documents to federal depository libraries, along with purchasing supplementary microfiche collections relating to federal reports, studies and documents. The Information Resources and Government Publications section is also responsible for managing the California State Depository Library Program.
The Information Services staff manages the State Library’s general, circulating and reference collections. Materials in the collection are primarily in subject areas of interest to State government such as business, education, environment, industry standards, personnel training and development, management, public policy, social sciences and technology.
The Library Development Services Bureau provides state and federal financial assistance to California libraries and provides technical consulting assistance to help local libraries extend and improve services to all Californians.
The primary assistance programs of the Library Development Services Bureau include: Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), a federal program which provides grants to libraries for innovative library services, technological development, services for underserved populations, library networking and resource sharing; Public Library Fund, a funding program under which the state contributes funding for basic local library services under specified conditions; California Library Literacy Services, which works to enable Californians of all ages to reach their literacy goals and use library services effectively; and California Library Services Act (CLSA), a program that helps public libraries and cooperative public library systems provide coordinated information services, supports communication and delivery among libraries, and provides reimbursement for interlibrary loans of materials and direct loans to non-resident borrowers.
Sutro Library, located in San Francisco, has a collection of genealogical resources, such as state and local histories, and family histories. Apart from genealogical records for California, Sutro has records for all other states, including the U.S. Census from 1790 to 1920 (on microfilm) and materials helpful in tracing genealogy in foreign countries. The collection was built upon the donation of Adolph Sutro, and contains many rare books. Sutro further emphasizes British studies of science, voyages and travels prior to 1900, Mexican history, and Hebraica. Sutro Library is located on the 5th Floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library on the San Francisco State University campus.
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