Nevada State Library and Archives
Elements of the functions of the State Library and the State Archives were established during the Nevada Territorial period when the Territorial Council and the House of Representatives passed a concurrent resolution on November 29, 1861 directing that as many of the old records connected with the early history of the Territory be collected and filed in the archives of the Territory. The Secretary of the Territory was designated the ex officio Librarian and directed to be keeper of the archives.
The Nevada State Library was officially established when Nevada became a state on October 31, 1864 and the Secretary of State was given responsibility for the library and for the archives. Funding for the collection came from fees collected by the Secretary and fees collected from all lawyers. The Legislature could use the library during session and the constitutional officers could use it at any time. After the completion of the Capitol in 1871 the library moved into the west side of the building.
Although the Secretary of State was the ex officio librarian, by 1875 the Judges of the Supreme Court became the Board of Directors for the Library and it was they who appointed a clerk to serve at their pleasure with a major emphasis on building a law collection. Over the years the clerks were required to produce catalogs of the books, maps, charts, newspaper files, pamphlets, and other sources of information contained in the State Library. By 1905 the library had outgrown its original space and an octagonal annex to the State Capitol was constructed as a state library building.
The State Library Commission was formed in 1915 composed of the Supreme Court Justices and for the first time a full-time State Librarian was appointed. Membership in the Commission was changed in 1929 to include the Governor, Secretary of State, and State Controller. The Governor was given authority to appoint the State Librarian.
By the mid-1930s the Library had outgrown its quarters. The 1935 Legislature authorized funds for a new Supreme Court and Library Building which was completed and occupied in September 1937. The new building was on the west side of Carson Street, across the street from the State Capitol building.
During the 1930s and 1940s the State Librarian was increasingly allowed more authority and responsibility for the Library but by 1951 there were so many conflicting laws regarding the State Library that the Legislature repealed all former laws and compiled a new statute providing for the administration and organization of the library.
A 1957 statute gave authority over obsolete state records to the Board of Control, renamed the Board of Examiners, including giving historic records to the Nevada Historical Society. It wasn't until 1965 that the Division of Archives was created in the office of the Secretary of State and located in the basement of the Capitol and then later the Capitol Annex. In 1967 the Division of Archives was made the official depository for archival records. This April 20th legislation also clarified the jurisdictions of the Nevada State Historical Society and the Division of Archives in regard to collecting historic records and papers.
Over the years the Library assumed an increasingly wide number of functions. The Nevada Center for Cooperative Library Services (NCCLS) and the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped were established in 1967 and 1968 respectively and the Literacy Coalition in 1989. Other functions added to the State Library included the State Publication Distribution Center, and the State Data Center (1982).
In 1971 the Legislature enacted legislation to begin the process of splitting the law library off from the State Library and establishing the Supreme Court Law Library. That year the State Librarian was given statewide authority for library programs in Nevada and the State Publication Distribution Center was established by the Legislature.
The State Archives became the Division of State, County, and Municipal Archives in 1973. Both the Archives and the Library had by then outgrown their locations so in 1973 the Library was moved into the Old Federal Building at 401 N. Carson Street and in 1975 the Archives was moved to the Old Carson Furniture Store site at 1807 N. Carson Street. The Archives moved again in 1979 to the Old State Printing Plant building at 101 S. Fall Street. That same year the State, County and Municipal Archives became the Division of Archives within the Nevada State Library. Records Management transferred into the Division of Archives in 1983 making it the Division of Archives and Records. This legislation also established the requirement for records retention schedules and required records to be transferred to the Archives.
Both the Library and Archives continued to grow at a rapid pace. In 1989 the Legislature agreed to allow General Obligation bonds to be issued for construction of a new State Library and Archives building. This building, at 100 N. Stewart Street was completed at the end of 1992.
The Department of Museums, Library and Arts was created in 1993 by the Nevada State Legislature. Chapter 466 of the Statutes of the State of Nevada, 1993, reorganized the executive department of state government and combined the formerly separate departments of Museums and History, State Library and Archives, and the Nevada Arts Council; and the Division of Historical Preservation and Archeology. In 2001 the Department's name was changed to the Department of Cultural Affairs. It now includes the Nevada State Library and Archives, the Division of Museums and History, Nevada Arts Council, and the State Historic Preservation Office.
Records of the Nevada State Library
Library Accession and Withdrawal Registers and Catalogs. 1864-1936 36 vols.
This series documents the acquisition and withdrawals of books, government documents, and law books by the Nevada State Library; and the catalogs of those materials. The format varies but generally includes the title of each item, author's name, and some sort of classification number or identification.
Circulation Records, Registers of Borrowers 1868-1949 34 vols.
This series documents the borrowing of library materials. The format varies but generally includes the name of the borrower, title of library item, date borrowed, and date returned. Some volumes are arranged by the name of the borrower and some by the title of items borrowed.
Library Account Ledgers, Fines 1891-1942 6 vols.
These volumes provide financial accounts related to library operations and to the collection of fines for materials returned after the due date.
Directors' Records 1865-1883; 1937-1995 17 cu. ft. NSLA-0076 to NSLA-0084; NSLA-0090 to NSLA-0095; NSLA-0103 to NSLA-0104
Included are annual/biennial reports, correspondence, employee manuals, commissions and committees material, library history files, governor and White House library conferences material, Question 9 Bond Issue to build public libraries, proposals for the Sarah Winnemucca statute in the U.S. Congress Statuary Hall, and construction of the new Nevada State Library and Archives building on Stewart Street in Carson City. Commissions and committees represented included the Nevada State Advisory Council on Libraries, the State Library Commission, the Central Libraries Automated Network (CLAN), and the Conference of Nevada State History and Information Agencies (CHSHIA).
Development Section Records 1958-1992 2 cu. ft. NSLA-0085 to NSLA-0086
Included is material on general library information, a continuing education committee, library history research, and governors' and White House library conferences.
Literacy Coalition Records 1987-1989 2 cu. ft. NSLA-0089 to NSLA-0090
These files document the development of the Nevada Literacy Coalition and include VISTA grant files, information about communities with literacy programs, surveys, handouts, 3-year plan, publicity, and the Nevada Literacy Council.
Photographs and Scrapbooks 836 photographs, 1935-1993, NSLA-0099 to NSLA-0102;
7 scrapbooks, 1935-1979, NSLA-0096 to NSLA-0098
The photographs in this collection consist of photos and slides of Nevada State Library directors and staff; Nevada State Library buildings (old Federal Building on Carson Street and 1992 Nevada State Library and Archives building at 100 N. Stewart St.); and public, school, bookmobile, and college libraries throughout the state. An in-house database is available for searching the photographs.
The scrapbooks were compiled by State Library staff, sometimes for submission as a demonstration of the range of programs in libraries throughout the state.
Photo credits: All photographs courtesy of the Nevada State Library and Archives.
Top - Old Federal Building, 401 N. Carson Street, home to the Nevada State Library from 1973-1992.
Middle: Letterhead for Burrall's Pioneer Book Store, News Depot & Circulating Library, N.E. Corner C & Taylor Streets, Virginia City. 1973. With no public libraries in the State, benevolent organizations and bookstores often provided circulating books for a fee. Photo from the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company collection.
Bottom: Nevada State Library and Archives building, 100 N. Stewart Street, Carson City. 1993.