Tuesday, November 17, 2009

California's Free Public Library Law

This year is the centennial of the free public library law in California. The California law was based around the county unit of government. The law was permissive and counties were not required to establish public libraries. Municipalities with their own public library were also not required to be a part of the the county library. The California State Library under the overall leadership of James Gillis, the state librarian, took on the task of organizing county libraries throughout the state. Harriet Gertrude Eddy (1876-1966) joined the staff of the California State Library in 1909 and was the person responsible for organizing county library service in 40 of California 58 counties in the next nine years. The postcard shown here was used to promote county library service in California. The postcard which was produced in 1915 has been updated by hand to show that 33 county libraries had been established up to that point. There is an interesting article in the California State Library Foundation Bulletin Number 94 (2009) about Eddy which points out that she has received little recognition for her contribution to public library development.

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