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Contractual Libraries

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 15 years, 4 months ago

February 27, 2009


Winner, Ron, IL


Hi, Carlos.  Here is a question that concerns me--I'm just forwarding it to you first.  But I am also cutting and pasting in the response I received in the past ...


Here is my original message, with a couple of enhancements ...


Message #1 ...

Contract Libraries

I have a concern about why contractual libraries are not recognized federally as legal service units and are pulled from the federal annual statistical submission. Illinois has 18 legally established (by IL Library Law) libraries that contract with other libraries for service. 


Those 18 libraries combined have a legal service population of 83,784.Those libraries have a library board, and it is the board's decision to contract for library service with another existing library (rather than reinventing the wheel and having a building, etc. of their own).  Even though Illinois collects annual reports from these libraries, the data is not submitted federally (to NCES, IMLS) as a part of the annual submission because theoretically they do not meet the FSCS public library definition. However, pragmatically they do meet the definition--they are legally established according to IL Library Law, they have a legally constituted board of directors, they do tax for public library service, etc.--however, they just contract with an existing public library to provide those services.


1) an organized collection of printed or other library materials, or a combination thereof; (the library they contract with does have the collection)

2) paid staff; (the library they contract with does have the paid staff)

3) an established schedule in which services of the staff are available to the public; (the library they contract with does have an established schedule)

4) the facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff, and schedule; (the library they contract with does have the facility)

5) is supported in whole or in part with public funds (these contractual libraries do tax for public library service and in turn the taxes collected are paid to the library they contract with for service).


In Illinois we do count these as legally established libraries, and the 83,784 population is legally receiving public library services via contract.


When we calculate the number of Illinois residents not paying taxes for public library services we deduct that number from the "untaxed."


I'm not complaining, but I am just questioning why contractual libraries cannot be included in the federal submission. I realize technically they do not meet the FSCS definition but pragmatically they do.


Any insights would be appreciated.


Message 2--Response from Keith Lance:



The definition of a library's legal service area has always included two ideas: the population the library is organized to serve (e.g., the city, county, or special district that primarily funds the library) AND--pointedly--the population of any area served *under contract*. Thus, when library service is being provided under contract, the people and, by extension, the associated money and service output, belong to the library that has the contract. That library is the one we expect to report about all of that. There has never been any provision for independent reports about contracts, apart from the actual libraries providing services contractually. The contract is not a library, as it must necessarily be with a library. To treat such contracts as if they were libraries in and of themselves would be to create 'phantom' libraries.


For what it's worth, this is how I have always viewed such situations.



Message 3--my response to Keith:

Keith thanks for your insight.

Actually, the library receiving the contract, as you pointed out, does report for the contractual service unit. You made a good point, however, in that the population has never been added into that "master/main library" population for FSCS purposes.


In Illinois the contract library does an annual report (brief) primarily to show board information (since they are legally established they do have a board) and the fiscal accountability (income/expenses: primarily from taxes and the state per capita grant).


Thanks, you have given Pat and I some information to consider for the future.


Now my message to Carlos: 

Maybe it is now time to re-think this and allow us to report these legally established contractual libraries? 


That area is "served, taxed" population and should somehow be identified in the national data.


What are your thoughts, Carlos?


IMLS Response: 

I'll start by saying that I my general inclination is to include more information about libraries and library services, not less. 


From your description it sounds as though no data about the "contracted" library services are reported in the Illinois submission to Census. Is that correct?


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