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The California Library Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, established in 1895 under the title of "Library Association of Central California," and lead by its first President, J.C. Rowell from the University of California. Through the leadership of the ninety-eight Presidents that followed, CLA has enjoyed a rich and memorable history. The Association's Annual Conferences have occurred since 1897, and early meetings were hosted by the cities of San Francisco, Redlands, Oakland, Long Beach, Lake Tahoe, Pasadena and Santa Barbara, among others. In 1906, the organization changed its name to the California Library Association.

Currently, CLA has nearly 3,000 Individual, Business, and Institutional members. Individual members include librarians, library employees, library students, friends group members, trustees, retirees as well as members of the general public who wish to support California libraries. CLA Business members represent a wide range of library-supporting businesses, whereas Institutional members include library institutions and systems who support the association's advocacy programs.

Annually, CLA provides professional development and advocacy support for its members and the California library community at large. Additionally, CLA supports the administration of the California Summer Reading Program as well as further summer enrichment programs funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The California Library Association is committed to helping library staff develop the knowledge and skills needed to work for 21st Century libraries, and to advance in the library field.

A Brief History of the California Library Association

Established on March 8, 1895 by public and academic librarians in the Bay Area, the original “Library Association of Central California” became the “Library Association of California” two years later when it expanded to include Southern California members. The California Library Association (CLA) acquired its current name in 1906. Statewide membership numbered 233 by January 1907.

From the beginning, the Association enjoyed a close working relationship with the California State Library. In fact, all four state librarians between 1906 and 1972 served at least one term as CLA president. In 1969, CLA permanently moved to Sacramento after being headquartered in the homes of the Association’s various executive secretaries for more than 60 years.

Historically, CLA has led the way in creating many library initiatives ultimately adopted nationwide. In March 1952, the Association organized the first statewide Library Week, which became National Library Week when the American Library Association (ALA) adopted the concept in 1957. ALA also looked to CLA’s recently developed standards on library staffing, collection size and budget requisites when compiling its own national standards in 1956. CLA was one of the first state library associations to appoint an intellectual freedom committee in 1940 and, in 2001, was among the earliest library organizations to officially denounce the USA PATRIOT Act.

Today, CLA is perhaps best known for its legislative efforts, which have resulted in the successful passage of numerous library bills. Created in the early 1950s at the request of newly appointed state librarian Carma Zimmerman, the CLA Legislative Committee has been responsible for introducing initiatives that eventually led to statewide library aid, the creation of library systems, and library construction bonds. CLA’s lobbyists keep members apprised of developments in Sacramento and often rally library advocates for and against specific statewide legislation.

Although no book-length history has ever been written about the Association, CLA officers and activities can be tracked in the state library’s News Notes of California Libraries (1906-1956), as well as CLA’s own Bulletin of the California Library Association (1939-1947), California Library Bulletin (1947-1950), California Librarian (1950-1978), the California Library Association Newsletter (1966-1990), and California Libraries (1991-2004).

Originally prepared for CLA by:
Cindy Mediavilla, Chair
CLA Library History Interest Group
August 2009

Past Presidents

CLA wouldn't be where it is today without the leadership of these individuals:


Deborah Doyle 2014
Derek Wolfgram 2013
Wayne Disher 2012
Paymaneh Maghsoudi 2011
Kim Bui-Burton 2010



Robert A. Hart 1979
Ursula Meyer 1978
June Fleming 1977
Gilbert W. McNamee 1976
Morris Polan 1975
Nadine Greenup 1974
William L. Emerson 1973
Richard D. Johnson 1972
David Sabsay 1971
William S. Geller 1970


Sydney B. Mitchell 1939
Anne Fraser Leidendeker 1938
Robert Rea 1937
Cornelia D. Plaister 1936
Eleanor Hitt 1935
Jasmine Britton 1934
John B. Kaiser 1933
Willis H. Kerr 1932
Mary Barmby 1931
Julia G. Babcock 1930


Barbara L. Roberts 2009
Monique le Conge 2008
Margaret Donnellan Todd 2007
Margaret Miles 2006
Danis Kreimeier 2004-2005
Susan Hildreth 2004
Les Kong 2003
Anne M. Turner 2002
Cindy Mediavilla 2001
Linda Crowe 2000 


Phyllis I. Dalton 1969
Catherine Chadwick 1968
William Brett 1967
Harry M. Rowe, Jr. 1966
Virginia Ross 1965
Everett T. Moore 1964
Bertha D. Hellum 1963
Dr. Martha T. Boaz 1962
Dr. Peter T. Conmy 1961
June E. Bayless 1960


Mabel R. Gillis 1929
Francis B. Linn 1928
Milton J. Ferguson 1927
Mrs. Theo R. Brewitt 1926
H.O. Parkinson 1925
Jennette M. Drake 1924
Susan T. Smith 1923
Althea Warren 1922
Cornelia D. Provines 1921
Carleton B. Joeckel 1920


Anne Campbell 1999
Anne Marie Gold 1998
Gregg Atkins 1997
David Price 1996
Mary Jo Levy 1995
Joy Thomas 1994
Luis Herrera 1993
Neel Parikh 1992
Dr. Tobin de Leon Clarke 1991
Catherine Lucas 1990


Dr. Alan T. Covey 1959
George F. Farrier 1958
Dr. Henry M. Madden 1957
Thelma Reid 1956
Carma (Zimmerman) Leigh 1955
Edwin Castagna 1954
Margaret Klausner 1953
Dorothy M. Drake 1952
Laurence J. Clarke 1951
Dr. Lawrence Clark Powell 1950


Milton Ferguson 1919
Sara McCardle 1918
Everett R. Perry 1917
Harold L. Leupp 1916
James L. Gillis 1913-1915
Lauren W. Ripley 1912
James L. Gillis 1906-1911
Joy Lichtenstein 1904-1905
Frank B. Graves 1903
Charles S. Greene 1901-1902
Herbert C. Nash 1900


Janice Koyama 1989
Halbert Watson 1988
John K. Kallenberg 1987
Holly Hinman 1986
Linda M. Wood 1985
Bernard Kreissman 1984
Josephine R. Terry 1983
Carol A. Aronoff 1982
Regina U. Minudri 1981
Barbara J. Campbell 1980


Edwin T. Coman, Jr. 1949
Howard M. Rowe 1948
Dr. Evelyn Steele Little 1947
Eleanor N. Wilson 1946
Coit Coolidge 1945
Dr. Mary Duncan Carter 1944
Clara B. Dills 1943
Mabel Innes 1942
John D. Henderson 1941
Bess Ranton Yates 1940 


Frederick J. Teggart 1899
George T. Clark 1898
J.C. Rowell 1895-1897