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Wisconsin Public Library Standards

Fifth edition: August 2010 © Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

The 2010 edition of the Wisconsin Public Library Standards revises and updates the work of the many people who developed earlier editions of the Standards. We reviewed the previous edition of the Standards, noted the increased levels of library compliance with the earlier standards, and compiled information on changes in library statistical information in Wisconsin libraries since the last edition was produced.

The Wisconsin Public Library Standards document has evolved gradually over the years. Many of the standards in this document are unchanged from the earlier editions. However, since the public library environment has changed significantly, this edition updates quite a number of the technology-related standards.

The latest edition of the Standards offers a comprehensive means to evaluate the services, resources, and other requirements for basic library service that should be available to all residents of the state. The public library standards are entirely voluntary, but every library is encouraged to strive to offer all local residents the highest level of service possible, including those who face physical or other barriers to their use of public libraries.

As in the previous edition of the Standards, quantitative standards are included and are fixed for approximately five years to allow libraries to plan for setting service goals to be achieved over time. Certain quantitative standards are included based on both the municipal and service population of the library. The quantitative standards are established at four levels of effort: basic, moderate, enhanced, and excellent. Each library can establish service targets by selecting an appropriate level of effort to apply to each standard, or use the levels to plan for progressive improvements over time.

The Standards document provides a useful tool in a library board's planning process. At a minimum, the checklists can be reviewed periodically to determine that the library meets at least a basic level of service, that its policies and programs meet statutory requirements for library service and library system membership, that its staff are adequately equipped and trained to proved service to the community, and that its policies and procedures do not have errors or omissions that pose liabilities to the library or community.

Wisconsin Public Library Standards, Fifth Edition, ©2010

The entire Fifth Edition of the Wisconsin Public Library Standards is available as a 213K PDF file for Adobe Acrobat or a 167K .docx file for Word.

The links below open PDF files of individual standards chapters and appendixes.

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1: Introduction
2: Imperatives for Planning
3: How to Use These Standards
4: Governance and Administration
5: Staffing for Public Libraries
6: Collection and Resources
7: Services
8: Access and Facilities
A: Quantitative Standards by Municipal Population
B: Quantitative Standards by Service Population
C: Quantitative Standards Regardless of Community Size
D: Summary of Technology-Related Standards
E: Terms and Acronyms Used in the Standards


Standards Level Calculator


The Outagamie Waupaca Library System (OWLS), has developed a handy tool using the current Wisconsin Public Library Standards that will automatically calculate the quantitative standards levels for a library once the library name, municipal population, and library service population are entered into the spreadsheet.

For questions about this information, contact John DeBacher (608) 267-9225