All Wisconsin counties, except those operating consolidated county libraries, are required to engage in countywide planning for public library service. In addition, counties are required to provide appropriate funding to support their plans.
County Planning Requirements
Under Wisconsin law, counties that participate in public library systems are responsible for providing library services to county residents who reside outside of communities that maintain their own libraries. County library service plans can address any appropriate issues, but Section 43.11 Wisconsin Statutes requires that county plans address at least the following:
- How public library service will be provided to residents of those municipalities in the county not maintaining a public library. The services provided must include full access to all system member libraries.
- The method and level of funding to be provided by the county in order to implement services described in the plan, including the reimbursement of municipal libraries for providing service to residents of those jurisdictions in the county that don't operate a public library.
- A method for allocating membership on the system board between member counties.
A county board may choose to appoint a committee to do the required planning. The county board is free to determine the size and composition of the library planning committee, and it may appoint any members it deems appropriate. A county may also design its own planning process. However, a public hearing must be held prior to adoption of a new plan, and representatives of all libraries in the county must be invited to attend the hearing. Any plan developed by a library planning committee would become official upon adoption by the county board of supervisors.
The Public Library Development Team of the Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning has developed additional information about county library planning requirements including answers to frequently asked questions and an outline of a sample county library plan.
County Funding Requirements
Beginning in 2001, Wisconsin counties must meet the minimum requirements, contained in Section 43.12, Wisconsin Statutes, for compensating municipal libraries for providing services to county residents who live in towns and villages without libraries. This requirement also includes a methodology for determining municipal libraries' costs for providing service to the county.
Under the statutory formula each county library is to be reimbursed on the following basis:
- A library's total operating expenditure in a given year, less capital expenditures and expenditures from federal sources, is divided by the total number of items loaned (i.e., circulation) during the same year to determine the library's cost per loan.
- A library's cost per loan is multiplied by its number of loans to county residents living outside of communities with libraries to determine the library's bill to the county.
- Counties are required to pay to each public library in the county at least 70% of its bill.
The Public Library Development Team has developed additional information about county library funding requirements including answers to frequently asked questions and guidelines for the collection of nonresident use statistics.