San Mateo County Law Library Foundation History

San Mateo County Law Library serves the legal research needs of approximately 8,800 people per year. Approximately 50% are local attorneys. The remaining 50% are members of the general public representing themselves in Court. Currently, 96% of the San Mateo County Law Library’s funding is derived from Superior Court filing fees. The remaining 4% of income comes from the photocopier, overdue fees, discontinued book sales, and conference room rental.

It costs approximately $850,000 to operate the Law Library at full hours, full staff, full services, and with up-to-date electronic and print subscriptions. Unfortunately, San Mateo County Superior Court filings have dropped drastically over the past 6 years: 43% since 2010. This drop has adversely impacted the Law Library. Its income has dropped from $841,000 in FY 2010-2011, to $536,000 this fiscal year—a drop of $305,000 in income.

San Mateo County Law Library is not alone. Over the past 5 years, all California County Law Libraries state-wide have experienced a decrease in funding. For example, Merced County Law Library’s funding has decreased 41%, San Bernardino 40%, San Francisco 38%, and Santa Clara 30%.

Over the past several years, the Law Library has made substantial cuts to the collection and operations in order to stay solvent; the Law Library cut expenditures from $881,000 to $608,000, a cut of $273,000. Some of the major cuts are: laying off four part-time employees and one full-time employee, elimination of all evening and weekend hours (a reduction of 18 hours per week), suspension of the vast majority of print materials, cutting library cleaning and maintenance by half, suspension of the Law Library’s lecture series, and suspension of the Law Library’s ‘Lawyer in the Library program.’

In an effort to save the San Mateo County Law Library, the San Mateo Law Library Foundation was created in 2016 to assist and promote the Law Library through outreach, fundraising, advocacy and volunteerism. We are a 501(c)(3) organization that can accept donations on behalf of the San Mateo Law Library. Donations will help offset the Law Library’s current financial crisis caused by a reduction in funding, and assist all people, whether members of the general public or local attorneys, in their efforts to use the legal system effectively.

Donations made to the San Mateo County Law Library Foundation will maintain and restore the Law Library’s legal resources and services for local attorneys and general public. Donations of any amount are tax deductible under IRS Code 170(c)(1).