New Jersey State Library
The New Jersey State Library, based in Trenton, New Jersey, was established in 1796 to serve the information needs of New Jersey's Governor, Legislature and courts. The State Library is also responsible to assist in the provision of library and information services to all New Jersey residents.
Although scholars debate the New Jersey State Library’s founding date, the collection began almost a century earlier. Between 1664 and 1702, New Jersey existed as two propriety colonies – East New Jersey and West New Jersey – with all governing documents in manuscript form.  In 1704, two years after becoming the Royal Colony of New Jersey, William Bradford began printing laws for the colony. This included An Act to Regulate the Purchasing of Law from the Indians, the first printed law in New Jersey, and a collection of laws passed between 1703 and 1709. In 1711, the assembly began consistently printing its laws and minutes and, by 1725, the “pages of Votes & Proceedings,” the colonial legislative publication, “were being sent to the printer weekly.”
In 1742, the assembly began actively purchasing books and reference materials for the legislative collection, with their minutes referring to them as “books belonging ‘to the Colony of New Jersey.’”. By the 1750s, committee reports listed the sources used in each deliberation, which included several reference texts, such as law dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks on parliamentary procedure. In the 1760s, there are several mentions of the assembly ordering boxes, shelving, and cases for their growing collection. The boxes and cases also enabled the assembly to safely transfer necessary documents and books between Perth Amboy and Burlington, the colony’s two capitals. In 1792, after Trenton was selected as the official capital, the collection received a permanent home, though, according to John T. Shaw, the “collection saw periods of neglect until the position of state librarian was created by the legislature in 1822.”
- About Us, New Jersey State Library. Accessed May 29, 2008.
- John T. Shaw, "The Origins of a State Library: New Jersey, 1704-1824," Information & Culture 48, no.1 (2013): 8-25.
- Shaw, "The Origins of a State Library," 12.
- Shaw, "The Origins of a State Library," 9.
- Shaw, "The Origins of a State Library," 14.
- Shaw, "The Origins of a State Library," 16
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