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California public policy resources

Subject Guide

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Jayati Chaudhuri
Office: University Library, # LN 2021
Office Hours -
Monday 1-2 p.m.
Tuesday, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Please feel free to join me via a Zoom meeting. You can also email me to make an appointment.

Searching the catalog

Search the Library’s online catalog (OPAC) to help unpack your topic and to locate reference books, books, and government publications.

Search using subject headings

California is a huge state and can be overwhelming to research. Try searching your keywords as subject headings (select the field LC Subject Heading as an OPAC advanced search option). For example: California (LC Subject Heading) AND Water (LC Subject Heading) will get you all items whose subject is California water supply and water quality issues. You can also combine keywords with subject headings such as California (LCSH) AND public schools (keyword) or California AND policy AND environment.


Creating public policy

Public policy is related to what a government chooses to do --or not to do-- about an issue, and includes legislation (and legislative intent), code (law), regulatory agencies that enforce the law, case law that challenges existing law, and all intervening social forces, such as public opinion. These aspects will be reflected in a wide variety of published sources. 

Policy literature is gray literature. Gray literature is produced by government agencies, think tanks/research centers, associations/societies, and professional organizations. Consider white papers, positions pieces, primary sources such as government documents, newspaper articles, California code (law), rules (regulatory agencies), and case law--as well as books and scholarly journal articles.

Primary sources

State of California
The State of California's official web page provides information on state history, culture, economy, and natural resources as well as on the state legislature, agencies and departments. The Senate Web page contains full text and analyses, history, status and vote information for all state bills. Full text versions of California Codes, Statutes and State Constitution are also included. See also the state's Agency Directory.

2011-2012 California Budget

California Channel
The California Channel is a public service funded  by California’s cable television operators covering “gavel-to-gavel" proceedings of the California Legislature, and other fora where public policy is discussed, debated, and decided; no editing, commentary, or analysis.

Policy briefs and agency reports

California State Library
The California State Library collects offical publications from California governmental agencies. 
The CSL is most useful for its California Research Bureau (CRB) Reports (CRB). CRB provides nonpartisan research services to the office of the Governor, the legislature, and state elected officials on current policy issues, including the history of an issue, legislative proposals in other states, case studies and examples, data analysis. The State Library also has an electronic notification service,Studies in the News.Search California State Publications (CSP). Published since 1947, each issue includes three parts: an introductory section, a register (consisting of the catalog records produced for new state publications for that month), and an index. 

California Legislative Analyst's Office
LAO provides non-partisan fiscal and policy advice to the California state legislature. Search publications by subject, date, or proposition. A good source for ballot initiatives.

California Agency Reports (Legislative Council)
Agency Reports provides information about reports by various state and local agencies that are required or requested to be submitted to the Legislature and/or the Governor.

California Senate Office of Research (SOR)
Established by the California Senate Rules Committee, the SOR is a nonpartisan office charged with serving the research needs of the State Senate and assisting its members/committees with developing public policy.

Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission, formally known as the Milton Marks "Little Hoover" Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy, is a bipartisan independent state oversight agency that advises the Governor. View downloadable executive summaries and biennial reports by chronological listing or subject.


California Statistical Abstract

Demographic Research Unit

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300