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California Library Hall of Fame: Frances Linn
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California Library Hall of Fame

Frances Linn (1873-1962)

As soon as California legislation was signed in 1909, allowing jurisdictions to create county libraries, Frances Linn, director of the Santa Barbara Public Library, got permission to extend library services into towns located in the surrounding Santa Barbara county. She eventually established 59 county library branches as far north as Santa Maria and south to Carpinteria. According to Harriet Eddy, the State Library’s county library organizer, Linn was popular and embraced state librarian James Gillis’s rather revolutionary “ideals for library service.” As California Library Association vice president in 1927, Linn was tasked with creating and distributing the iconic orange signs that indicated county library sites. To accomplish this, she mailed hundreds of letters to locations throughout the state, describing the program and soliciting orders, before sending the signs. Her service philosophy, which is as relevant today as it was then: “The library can be the means of building up the neighborhood life and community spirit. It can be the common interest in the small towns where differences of creed and politics and social position separate the people, dissipating the forces for good.” Linn was CLA president in 1928.



Frances Linn was inducted into the California Library Hall of Fame in 2018. For more information, please see:

  • Harriet G. Eddy, County Free Library Organizing in California, 10909-1918. Berkeley: California Library Association, 1955.

Photo credit
: Santa Barbara Public Library