CSL Capitol Branch: Library service on the move

The California State Library (CSL) has long had a branch office inside the busy State Capitol building in Sacramento. Since the mid-80’s though, the CSL’s Capitol Branch, and its service-oriented team, has demonstrated to its distinguished clientele how efficiently it can adapt to changing logistics and spaces. This spring, while a renovation brightened the library’s on-site service center, the Capitol Branch’s staff offered top quality customer service from the Capitol’s hectic hallways.

By 1985, after decades in the Capitol, the CSL Capitol Branch was operating from an office which was once the Assembly Office of Research Library, a beautiful and spacious setting with glass doors at the entry, and plenty of room for books, and researchers. Soon after the Capitol Branch settled in, the Assembly required the office and the library was moved to Room 2019, a smaller, 10’ x11’ space just off Assembly member Johan Klehs' office. When Mr. Kleh’s staff expanded however, the Capitol Branch moved again. After just a few short hours, and some fast office-packing, the CSL’s Capitol Branch was in its current home, Room 5210.

Once a hallway, Room 5210 is long and narrow with a small room off to the side. In 2007, the Capitol Branch staff, comprised of CSL California Research Bureau (CRB) librarians, asked that some painting be done to the office walls, a small request which evolved into this spring’s remodeling project.

Kiosk queries, kiosk service

To maintain a presence with their largely legislative customers during the remodel, the CRB librarians worked from the State Capitol’s north entrance information kiosk, conducting reference work by using phones and PCs in the Library and Courts II offices a half block away. A former State Police officer told Librarian Maeve Roche that the kiosks were last used in the early 70’s so Capitol staffers were surprised when they first spotted the helpful librarians in the long unmanned kiosks.

“At the kiosks,” Roche says, “we took in a few reference requests, but overwhelmingly, we answered directional questions such as ‘Where is the bathroom?’ ‘Where is Room 112?’ and ‘How do I get to the Speaker's Office?” Roche says their kiosk location at the north entrance offered “prime viewing of the traffic patterns at the Capitol each day. We saw the lobbyists and advocacy groups flood the building as hearings began, and we saw the legislative staffers heading out for their morning coffee runs.”

Though Roche reports the Capitol Branch team’s visibility in the building’s major thoroughfare was “good exposure” for the California State Library “we're all glad to be back at our usual locale on the 5th floor with our research tools at our fingertips.” And now CRB librarians know the layout of the Capitol, Roche says, “like the back of our hands.”



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