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Nevada State Library, Archives & Public Records

Nevada State Library, Archives & Public Records

The Nevada State Library, and its predecessor, the Territorial Library, has existed since the earliest days of Nevada’s political organization. In 1861 the Territorial Legislature created the office of the Territorial Librarian, which was filled, ex officio by the Territorial Auditor. As the Territory matured into statehood, the office and responsibilities of the Territorial Librarian also grew, and it was not until 1915 that a full-time librarian was deemed necessary.

Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, the Nevada State Library saw its duties and statutory roles evolve in accompaniment with Nevada’s growth; creating the Division of Archives in 1965, establishing the Nevada Center for Cooperative Library Services in 1967, splitting from the Nevada Supreme Court services in 1971 (allowing the Supreme Court Law Library to further expand and enhance its services), creating a State Publication Distribution Center in 1971, incorporating a regional library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in 1983, establishing the Records Management program in 1983, and transferring Imaging and Preservation services from the State Printing Office to Archives & Records in 1997. The Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records continues to serve as the primary repository for the State of Nevada, as well as an unparalleled resource for Nevadans.

Timeline Historical Highlights

Highlights from 1861 - 1895

  • 1861 ~ Territorial Council and House of Representatives pass a Concurrent Resolution “to collect as many of the old records connected with the early history” and file them in the archives of the Territory.
  • 1861 ~ Territorial Auditor was named ex officio Librarian.
  • 1861 ~ The Secretary of the Utah-Nevada Territory was assigned the responsibility of preserving public records. After Nevada became a state, this responsibility transferred to the Secretary of State, who became the de facto State Archivist.
  • 1863 ~ Federal documents sent to the Nevada Territorial Library.  Beginning of the Federal Publications collection at the Territorial Library.
  • 1864 ~ Becomes Nevada State Library with Nevada Statehood, October 31, 1864.
  • 1865 ~ The Secretary of State is required to keep the proceedings and all papers of the two Constitutional Conventions; manuscripts containing the enrolled Acts and joint resolutions and journals of the Legislature of this state and the Territory of Nevada; the records, papers, and documents of Carson County, Utah Territory; and all other books, records and documents which are required to be deposited and kept in his office.  This constitutes the first de facto State Archivist.
  • 1865 ~ State Library was created in statute as a responsibility of the Secretary of State, the ex officio State Librarian.  Funding for the State Library came from all fees collected by that office, and no person could practice law in Nevada without paying a fee to the State Library Fund.  The Library was for use by the Legislature during session and at anytime by the Governor, the Executive Officers, and the Justices of the Supreme Court.  The Board of Directors for the State Library consisted of The Governor, State Controller, and Attorney General. Purchasing decision should include the needs of the Supreme Court.
  • 1883 ~ The Lieutenant Governor became ex officio State Librarian.
  • 1883 ~ The State Library established office hours the same as other State offices.  The Lieutenant Governor was required by law to keep a register of  “all books, magazines, papers, pamphlets, maps, charts and other property.”  To keep the library open a clerk was hired for when the Lieutenant Governor acts as Governor.  The Lieutenant Governor assumes the responsibilities held by the Judges of the Supreme Court, who are no longer the Board of Directors.
  • 1895 ~ Secretary of State becomes the ex officio State Librarian.

Highlights from 1915 - 1971

  • 1915 ~ State Library Commission was formed, composed of the Supreme Court Justices and appointed the first full-time State Librarian.
  • 1917 ~ Legislature authorizes the State Library to loan books to any resident or school district of the State.  This is the beginning of public library service to Nevada citizens.
  • 1937 ~ The State Board of Control transferred the responsibility for the maintenance of historical records to the Nevada Historical Society in cooperation with the Office of the Secretary of State.
  • 1960 ~ The State Librarian is still in classified service, but “serves at the pleasure of the Governor” for removal.
  • 1965 ~ On October 4th, the Division of Archives officially opened its doors as part of the Secretary of State Office. Originally located in the basement of the Capitol, and later moved to the Capitol Annex.
  • 1965 ~ Nevada Council on Libraries established to “examine and overview the whole state of libraries, librarianship, library education, library resources, and all allied and cognate activities and prepare a record of its findings.” 
  • 1967 ~ Records Services Section, newly created in Department of Administration, Budget Division, includes a micrographics unit.   Appropriations made for its support.
  • 1967 ~ Nevada Center for Cooperative Library Services organized under the provisions of Chapter 277 NRS on May 29.
  • 1967 ~ Legislation to eliminate the Division of the Archives failed. Instead it became the repository of noncurrent state government records.
  • 1968 ~ Regional Library for the Blind and the Physically Handicapped established at the State Library.
  • 1971 ~ Legislation enacted which begins the official process of splitting the State Library and Supreme Court Law Library.  “On and after November 22, 1972, the justices of the supreme court shall be ex officio supervisors of the law library to assist the state librarian in performing the duties imposed upon him by NRS 378.080.
  • 1973 ~ The Division of Archives' name changed to the Division of State, County and Municipal Archives.
  • 1979 ~ The Archives became part of the State Library and Division of Archives.
  • 1983 ~ Records Management was added to the functions of the Archives.
  • 1992 ~ The Archives became a part of the newly created Department of Museums, Library and Arts.
  • 2015 ~ The Archives and the Library became a division within the Department of Administration. The name was changed to the Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records Division.

Read the expanded Statutory and Chronological History 1861-2005 with annotations.