The Santa Cruz County Law Library was established August 3, 1896, by County Ordinance No. 126. Since that time the library has grown from a few shelves of books in the District Attorney's office on the lower floor of the former CooperHouse, to an excellent library containing 16,000 volumes supplemented with computerized online databases, plus a citizen's self-help collection. Today the library is housed next to Traffic Court, on the lower floor of the County Governmental Center.
The law concerning California county law libraries is set forth primarily in Chapter 5 of the Business and Professions Code Sections 6300 et seq. County law libraries are free public libraries for the judiciary, state and county officials, members of the state bar, and all residents of the county.
The governing agency of the library is the Board of Law Library Trustees. Members are appointed annually by the Board of Supervisors and the local judiciary. Trustees serve without compensation and meet once a month in public session.
The administrative head of the library, directly responsible to the Board of Law Library Trustees, is the County Law Librarian.
County Law Libraries are as diverse as the communities they serve. When compared to the other 57 counties and their libraries, the Santa Cruz library is considered to be medium-sized, with the county ranked 23rd in population, 23rd in terms of total revenue, 20th in the number of attorneys, and 18th in the size of the law library.
The Library derives most of its funding from a portion of most Superior Court filing fees. It is thus supported by litigants who are directly benefited by the library. Other sources of revenue include donations and other income from various fee-based services.