The San Diego County Public Law Library (San Diego Law Library), along with the County Law Libraries throughout the State of California, is celebrating 125 years of public service.
We are proud of our service to the legal community and citizens of San Diego County since 1891.
On June 10th, 1891, the County Board of Supervisors met and ordered Ordinance 57 to be entered into the minutes. Ordinance 57 established a county law library for San Diego County. This made San Diego compliant with the state statute passed earlier that year establishing county law libraries.
Law Library’s Mission
The San Diego Law Library is the only community resource dedicated to helping people learn about and use the law to solve problems, access justice, and leverage opportunities. Since 1891, the law library has served the entire county – the general public, businesses, self-represented litigants, attorneys and the courts – as the only freely accessible legal collection available to the public .
We are proud of our service commitment to our diverse community of library users. We offer classes on a variety of legal topics as well as partnering with legal service providers to offer free legal clinics. Our Civil Appellate Self-Help Workshop earned Legal Services Corporation’s 2015 Pro Bono Service Award. Also in 2015, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program honored the Law Library as one of the Outstanding Pro Bono Contributors for 2015.
The Law Library Over the Years
The location and appearance of the law library has changed over the years. In 1895, the Library’s book collection numbered 1,500 volumes and was housed is the judges’ chambers in the Courthouse. In 1900, a small room was set aside in the Courthouse for the Law Library. By 1923, the library moved to the ground floor of the Courthouse Annex. By 1935, the book collection had grown to about 25, 000 volumes. The book collection continued to grow, 50,000 volumes in 1955 and by 1972, the collection had grown to 150,000 volumes. The library’s present location was planned, built and dedicated in 1958. The first branch of the San Diego Law Library opened in September 1973 at the North County Courthouse in Vista. Additional branches were opened at the Courthouses in Chula Vista (1982) and El Cajon (1983). In 2011, the Downtown location underwent a major renovation and reopened in 2012. The completed renovation was featured on the cover of the American Association of Law Libraries’ (AALL) Spectrum Magazine-13th Annual Architecture Series, May 2013 .