1920s-1950s: A Chapter is Born

The Southern California Chapter (SCC) of SLA was founded when the first meeting was held on March 6, 1922 at the Realty Board Headquarters on South Spring Street in Los Angeles. Records show that about 20 people attended. Formal affiliation with the National SLA was granted in 1927. At the time, the annual membership dues cost $1, and regular dinner meetings cost about 35¢.

As the chapter moved into the 1930s, the SCC began to exercise more influence regionally and nationally. 1936 saw a joint meeting of the SCC with the San Francisco Bay chapter and California County Librarians at the 41st meeting of the California Library Association in San Diego. The SLA chapters discussed strategies for greater cooperation between each other and prospective employment opportunities, which continue to be major benefits for members to this day. In the 1950s, SCC was awarded the H.W. Wilson Company Chapter Award for outstanding contributions in the field of recruitment.

SCC’s close ties to the entertainment industry were of great interest to fellow chapters. This relationship was present from the earliest days of the organization, as meetings were occasionally held during this time at locations such as Fox Studios. By the 1939 SLA national conference in Baltimore, SCC was able to display a traveling exhibit on the work of Warner Bros. Studio’s research library for Juarez.

SCC was given the opportunity to present on its home turf when Los Angeles was selected as the site of the 1942 SLA conference, but it was canceled due to the outbreak of World War II. After the war, Los Angeles was finally able to host the conference in 1949, featuring a special rail tour to commemorate SLA’s 40th anniversary. In addition to LA, attendees were able to visit the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, and even Canada on the train for $350.

1960s-1990s: New Horizons

In the final decades of the twentieth century, SCC adapted to meet the rapid advancements in technology impacting the field of special librarianship. During a 1968 chapter meeting at local landmark RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, one speaker presented a talk about computerized bibliographic records entitled “Computer Files: Can Macy’s tell Gimbel’s?” That same year, the SCC also hosted the 59th SLA conference.

In the 1970s, California voters approved a statewide Proposition that changed the state tax code and reduced library budgets. Librarians (especially special librarians) now needed to rapidly educate themselves in automated computing to compensate for the lack of resources. This was a major training need that SLA continues to fulfill for its members.

2000s-Present: The World of Tomorrow

In 2002, SCC hosted the national convention at the Sports Arena downtown, which coincided with the chapter’s 75th anniversary. The field of special librarianship has continued to expand, and SCC offers librarians, catalogers, webmasters, and other information specialists in the Los Angeles metro area ample opportunities to find a community with their peers. It was renamed from the Southern California Chapter to the Southern California Community in 2020, but SCC continues to offer its members networking events, job boards, and continuing education, as it has for over 100 years.