Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
The Caltrans library staff (L to R): Debborah Cismowski, History Librarian; Janet Coles, Supervising Librarian; Silvia DeLeon, Staff Services Analysist; Shubhangi Kelekar, Techical Reference Librarian; and Lyn Roefs, Cataloguing Librarian.

Checking out the Caltrans Library
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 09/2009

If you're looking for transportation-related information, the Caltrans library staff will help you find it.

As big as a football field, the Caltrans Transportation Library and History Center in Sacramento seemingly contains all the transportation-related information a seeker of such data could possibly want or need.

It’s hard to imagine that somewhere in the library’s 40,000 books and reports, 125 periodical subscriptions, 100,000 photographs (dating back to the 1900s), and 30,000 maps, the information could not be found.

Started in the 1950s as part of the Planning Division, the library became Department-wide in the 1970s and has been in place ever since, says Supervising Librarian Janet Coles. “Essentially we provide work-related reference, research and information services to Caltrans staff statewide,” Coles says.

The library's collections provide current and historical coverage of subjects relating to road and bridge design, construction, and maintenance; building/construction codes and standards; transportation planning and policy, traffic operations, and transportation information systems; air and rail transportation; and agency administration, management, and supervision.

“We are also the repository for historical information about the Department and about highway development in California, and the Department's historical records officer (Deborah Cismowski) is on our staff,” Coles adds. “We provide extensive interlibrary loan services, so even if we don't have what someone is looking for, we can usually get it for them.”

The library also provides access to electronic journal and book databases through the California State Library and staff is working on providing electronic delivery of content such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) professional journals and other databases during this fiscal year. “We also support employee professional development and have an extensive collection of exam preparation materials, particularly for engineers,” Coles says.

Add to that a video library that covers technical, historical and administrative/managerial topics “which we plan to develop and strengthen,” she adds. “We can also broker access to videos through other units in the Department, through the California State Library, and through interlibrary loan.”

While Caltrans staff is the library’s primary clientele, it is also open to the public Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment. Public inquiries for departmental historical information are generally brokered through the public affairs staff in the districts or at Caltrans Headquarters.

The big news is that, while the library has published a quarterly newsletter and new acquisitions list for a long time, it is moving that information to a blog format beginning September 1 ( “This will allow us to get information about new resources out to our customers sooner and to make information about the library and the transportation information community more accessible to our agency,” Coles says.

District 7 employees may contact the library by phone (916-654-4601) or by e-mail ( Employees also can submit information requests through the intranet ( “We have no preference for any of these on our part,: Coles says. “Whatever's easiest for the employee.”






Inside the library, which holds more than 40,000 books.