Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 233 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


A library board has no power to sell property or transfer title and only a change in the laws can grant it this power.  The state library need not pay for official University publications but must pay for all others published by the University Press.

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                                                                    April 6, 1954

Honorable Maryan E. Reynolds
State Librarian
Temple of Justice
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 233

Dear Madam:

            In your letters of March 24, 1954, previously acknowledged, you request our opinion upon the following questions:

            (1) Does a library board have the power to sell property?

            (2) Is there any way of transferring title to the city when the property was given to or purchased by the library board?

            (3) If the answers to the above questions are negative, is there any course open for disposal of such property other than a change in the library laws?

            (4) Must the state library pay for publications published by the University Press, except such items as are generally distributed without charge?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Your first three questions may be answered in the negative.  The library need not pay for official University publications but must pay for all others published by the University press.


            RCW 27.12.210 sets out the powers of the library board.  The sections relating to property are as follows:

            "* * *

            "(6) Accept such gifts of money or property for library purposes as they deem expedient;

            "(7) Lease or purchase land for library buildings;

            "(8) Lease, purchase, or erect an appropriate building for library purposes, and acquire such other property as may be needed therefor;"

            This section indicates that the library board has the power to purchase or lease property, but is not given any power to sell property.  It is a well known rule that a quasi-municipal corporation has no power beyond that expressly or impliedly conferred by law.  SeeHughbanks v. Port of Seattle, 193 Wash. 498, 76 P. (2d) 603.  This maxim also applies to your second question.  Since the board is given no statutory power to transfer title from itself to another, it cannot be done.  Where such a power has not been granted by statute, the only way that power can be obtained is by amendment to said statutes.

            In answer to your fourth question, you are advised that the University Press is a commercial venture.  Consequently, not every publication of that establishment is to be considered astate publication within the meaning of RCW 40.04.020, which provides:

            "Every state publication, not printed by the public printer, whether in printed or mimeographed form, shall be deposited in triplicate with the state library."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Any official publication released in the name of the university, or any department or school thereof; or any official survey, report, etc., periodic or otherwise, prepared by an individual on behalf of any department or school of the university, should be considered a state publication subject to the requirement of the cited statute.  Textbooks written by faculty members as a private venture; theses prepared by students seeking degrees, either undergraduate or advanced, and such similar personal efforts should not be so considered.  In other words, writings which are actually an official organ of the university or some department thereof are covered, while publications purporting to be the private work of a particular individual even though such individual is known to be connected with the university, should not be so considered.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General