It Was Twenty Years Ago Today …

150605_20_years_12512th_amer_lib_photoIt was twenty years ago today Sgt Pepper taught the band, June 5, 1995, that the Alameda County Law Library relocated the Main Library into its current home at 125 12th Street in Oakland and out of its former space within the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse.

The image on the right is of the newly completed space and was one featured in the architectural issue of  American Libraries in April of 1996.

The project included a complete gut and renovation of a 1920s four-story building by Robinson Mills + Williams Architecture and Interior Design.

The finished library was and continues to be a lovely space for work and study.  The large size of the display windows retained from the former Chevrolet automobile dealer space provide lovely natural light into the library.  But it was not always so lovely as the pictures below taken during from the demolition show.

Here is a description of the renovation’s of the “New Building” from ACLL’s files :


automobile_dealership_ad_12512thIn 1989 it was clear that the main library would have to grow in order to continue to provide the same level of service to the increasing number of patrons and to house the exploding collection of legal materials. In that year, the County of Alameda and the Alameda County Law Library entered into a joint venture to acquire the 1924 Gothic Revival building diagonally across from the courthouse at Twelfth and Oak Streets to house the law library and other offices.
Over the past seventy years, this building had served variously as a dance hall and an unemployment office, and has housed a Western Union switching station. During World War II it was an assembly point and internment processing site for Japanese-American citizens. Most recently “Twelfth & Oak” has been a bank and office building. The Alameda County Law Library is proud to have played a significant role in rehabilitating this landmark to serve the public in the twenty-first century.
Architect Matthew R. Mills and his associates at the San Francisco firm of Robinson Mills + Williams have preserved the gracious elegance of a bygone era in the renovated building while creating a functional space in which to use the latest technology. The first and mezzanine (second) floors form the new Law Library, the third floor is county office space, and the fourth floor became the new County of Alameda Conference Center.
renovation_125_fullspaceThe two-level, 30,000 square foot Law Library facility is paneled in rich cherrywood. The cherrywood carrels, study tables, library shelving, and the reference and circulation desks were crafted by Oakland’s Creative Wood Products especially for the library. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides and an open second floor balcony allow natural light into all parts of the library.
 The Law Library was built to accommodate state of the art technology as well as new technologies as they emerge. All computer purchases and installation were through a former Oakland company, INACOM (previously known as California Computer Options).
The building was purchased for $2,400,000 at a foreclosure sale in 1989 after the Alameda County Law Library and the County of Alameda had entered into a joint venture to purchase and renovate the building. The down payment came from the Law Library building fund which had been accumulated painstakingly out of its renovation_125_windows_viewfiling fee income and invested over 20 years. The balance of the purchase price, and most of the cost of renovation, furniture and equipment was from County issued participation bonds.
The earthquake delayed ground-breaking ceremony which officially started the renovation was held on March 25, 1993 as a part of Law Library’s also delayed Centennial Celebration. A little more than two years later, on June 5, 1995, the new Law Library opened to the public.

ACLL has had a long history of serving the legal information needs of the citizens of Alameda County. Since 1893, the Alameda’s County Law Library has provided resources to meet the needs of legal professionals, as well as, self-represented litigants.  Though we do not have staff who have worked here since the 1890s, we do have have four dedicated staff members who were working for the library twenty years ago when the new location opened – Clara, Jean, Johnnie and Peter (Hayward).

We all hope to continue to serve the public’s legal information needs into the coming years.  Recently, ACLL’s main funding source of a percentage of civil court  filing fees has dropped dramatically while the costs of on-line and paper legal information resources have soared.

Donations are always appreciated.  The Donate Now button can be found on the right side of this web page.  Your generosity would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you from all of us here at the Alameda County Law Library.

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