In 1864, the Arizona Territorial Library began after then-President Abraham Lincoln sent a team delegates to visit the territory. With them came over 300 books on history, law, and other literature. On March 24, 1915, it became the Arizona State Library, and in the century since, the State of Arizona Research Library has undergone many changes. The Library has been its own state department, part of the legislative branch, a division of the Department of Administration, and is currently a Division of the Arizona Secretary of State.
Originally housed at in the various Territorial Capital locations, the Library finally settled in the Arizona State Capitol and quickly outgrew its space. State Librarian Mulford Winsor convinced the Legislature that more space was desperately needed, and in 1938, a 5-story addition (with so many mezzanines!) was added to the west side of the Capitol. In 2018, the State of Arizona Research Library was moved out of the Capitol, and the physical materials moved to the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building where they could be better preserved in temperature and humidity controlled environments. No more leaking roofs, sun exposure, or poor air flow for the collections, some of which have items well over 130 years old.
While the “stacks” may no longer be browsable by our patrons, physical materials can still be used in our Reading Room at the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building. There, our Arizona Collection, Law materials, Maps, Historic Newspapers, and State and Federal Documents are all stored and can be retrieved for use. In addition, digitization projects are ongoing in-house, as well as with our partners, to develop collections that can be viewed on the Arizona Memory Project from any computer or mobile device. In addition, the Patent and Trademark Resource Center can also be found at the Polly Rosenbaum Building.
For more information about the history of the State of Arizona Research Library, check out 100 Years of Public Service on the Arizona Memory Project.