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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

State Law Library

Also known as:
Minnesota State Law Library
Active dates:1849-
Const. Art. VI, Sec. 2 (Law Librarian)

All official publications of the United States and of other states and countries, which are received for the use of this state by any officer thereof, shall be sent to the State Library.


The State Library was established in 1849 when Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey appointed Charles T. Cavilier as librarian; however, the library was officially organized by an act of the territorial legislative council in 1851 (Minn. Stat. 1849-1858 s106). The librarian was appointed by the governor to collect and preserve all books, papers, maps, public documents, and other related library materials that he deemed necessary.

In 1864, the Minnesota Historical Society, funded by a state aid grant, assumed the maintenance of such a library. Hence, the State Library came to administer those library holdings exclusively devoted to law and became known as the State Law Library. The library serves the legal profession, the department of state, the attorney general, and the state supreme court. Its holdings include the briefs of the state supreme court and the U.S. Supreme Court, the latest legal reports, digests, encyclopedias, textbooks, and statutes of all fifty states, and statues of Great Britain, Canada, and the British Commonwealth. Supervision of the library was eventually assumed by the judges of the state supreme court while the governor continued to appoint the librarian (Laws 1878 c88).

Now, as part of the judicial department, the library is supervised and the librarian appointed by the judges (Laws 1967 c45 s67). The judges direct the purchases, sales, and exchanges of books, pamphlets, and documents to the University of Minnesota departments and state agencies. They adopt and enforce rules for the library and manage its affairs (Minn. Stat. 1976 s480.09).

Agency heads:

Territorial librarians: Charles T. Cavilier, 1849-1850; Wallace B. White, 1850-1853; Robert A. Smith, 1854-1857. Librarians since state organization: William F. Wheeler, 1858-1860; Samuel Pierce Jennison, 1860-1861. Agency heads: Dr. Thomas Foster, 1861; Robert F. Fisk, 1861-1863; Pennock Pusey, acting librarian, 1863; De Witt C. Smith, 1864; George H. Oakes, 1864-1865; Mrs. Louisa F. Goodwin, 1865-1867; Mrs. M. R. Smith, 1867-1873; John C. Shaw, 1873-1877; William Henry Harrison Taylor, 1877-1894; Charles A. Gilman, 1894-1899; F. W. Johnson, 1899-1901; Emil A. Nelson, 1901-1905; John E. King, 1905-1911; Elias J. Lien, 1911-1921; Charles F. Ebel, 1921-1925; Paul Dansingberg, 1925-1945; Josephine W. Smith, 1945-1953; Margaret S. Andrews, 1953-1976; Ronald L. Cherry, 1977-1979; Marvin R. Anderson, 1980-2002; Barb Golden, 2002-2009; Liz Reppe, 2012-

Note: The Legislative Reference Library may have additional reports on or by this group available through our catalog.
News clippings and documents. Agencies Notebook Collection, 1980-2003.
Record last updated: 08/08/2023

All information on this group from the Library’s collection of agency notebooks has been digitized. These materials are incorporated into the “documents/articles” section of the record. Please contact a librarian with any questions. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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