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California Library Hall of Fame: George T. Clark
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California Library Hall of Fame

George T. Clark (1862-1940)

Born in San Francisco in 1862, George T. Clark was studying agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1882, when he began working for the library. He stayed on after graduation, but then moved to Sacramento to become deputy state librarian. During his seven years there, he devoted most of his energies to indexing and cataloging the state library’s collections. In 1894, he returned to the bay area, where he served as director of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) for 13 years. While there, he established the first children’s section, instituted professional and educational requirements for library employees, and developed an open-shelf system, called Select Library. Clark also doubled the number of outlets, from three to six, and secured a $750,000 Carnegie grant to build a freestanding main library and several branches. He was overseeing SFPL’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake and fire when he was approached by Stanford University to rebuild and expand its library. Accepting the position, Clark went on to head the Stanford library until he retired in 1928. In addition to leading a stellar career as various library directors, he also was a founding member of the Library Association of Central California, which eventually became the California Library Association (CLA) in 1897. He served as CLA’s second president in 1898-99. During his presidency, he focused his activities on pressuring the state library to become more engaged with California’s professional library community. He wrote a history of CLA, called A Narrative of the Proceedings of the California Library Association, 1895-1907, which CLA published in 1930.


George T. Clark was inducted into the California Library Hall of Fame in 2015. For more information about him, please see:

  • California Library Association. A Narrative of the Proceedings of the California Library Association, 1895-1907. Stanford University, 1930.
  • Peter T. Conmy. “George Thomas Clark, the California Library Association’s illustrious number two. California Librarian (1976): 4-13.
  • D. B. Haverland. “George T. Clark.” Pacific Bindery Talk (June 1935): 167-170.


Photo credit: Stanford Historical Photograph Collection (SC1071). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.