State Library (CSL) leaders, acclaimed Gold Rush
writer, J.S. Holliday, CSL Foundation members, and
CSL staff lauded Gary Kurutz, CSL director of
Special Collections and executive director of the
CSL Foundation, at Sacramento’s historic Sutter
Club on October 7, 2005.
The celebratory luncheon was, as the invitation
stated, “in appreciation [of Kurutz’s] many
years of devoted service and generosity to the
California State Library and its Foundation.”
State Librarian Susan Hildreth, former State
Librarian Gary Strong, Holliday, CSL Foundation
President Kenneth B. Noack, Jr., and other
distinguished speakers extolled Kurutz’s work
promoting not just the CSL, but also the field of
librarianship, a contribution reflected in
Kurutz’s comment to the San Diego Union that
addresses audience at historic Sutter club.
State Librarian Gary Strong, Susan Hildreth, and
honoree Gary Kurutz.
1979, Kurutz has expanded the library’s
collection so that the CSL now houses the most
revered and extensive rare text collection of any
state library in the United States. Kurutz also
oversees the preservation of rare materials and
has led the CSL’s digitization efforts.
the Sutter Club, Hildreth praised Kurutz for his
“willingness to take on any challenge… with
very little resources.” Hildreth said Kurutz’s
recent negotiated acquisition, the Tom Vano
collection of approximately 800,000 prints and
negatives covering San Francisco and the Bay Area
from the 1950s to 2000, exemplifies his
resourcefulness and his collaborative talents.
said Kurutz’s answer to most requests is “Yes.
I’ll do that,” a fact former State Librarian
Strong illustrated when he reminded the audience
of Kurutz’s seminal role in establishing three
CSL bedrocks: the preservation office, the Sutro
Library in San Francisco, and the CSL Foundation.
the conclusion of the Sutter Club celebration
Kurutz said, “In 1850, two years to the day
after the Great Discovery in Coloma, California
discovered the gold of the mind – civilization
came to California through the California State
Library. I am honored to work for this great
temple of knowledge."
award in Visalia
sixteen books about Californian antiquities and
thirty-two articles and introductions in scholarly
works of California history, Kurutz is, in State
Librarian Emeritus Kevin Starr’s words, not only
one of the leading experts on Gold Rush history,
but also “the leading bibliographer of
California history.” The Los Angeles Times,
for example, wrote that California Calls You,
Kurutz’s book about “The Art of Promoting the
Golden State from 1870 to 1940,” is a “triumph
that completely captures the line and color of a
remarkable period of commercial art.”
slides from the CSL’s collection, Kurutz
regularly lectures on California history and
collectibles before community groups, historical
societies, and service organizations.
honor these historical components of Kurutz’s
work, the California Council for the Promotion of
History awarded Kurutz its “Award of
Distinction” in at the annual conference in
Visalia November 2005.
Foundation Board President Mead Kibbey, author J.S.
Holiday, and Gary Kurutz.