On March 27, 2014, Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 288 relating to consolidated county library funding and non-resident library use. The governor’s memo describes the bill as eliminating an inequality "in library service by allowing counties to bill adjacent counties for services provided regardless of whether that county has a consolidated public library." The bill was originally introduced in August 2013 by Representatives Murphy, Bernard Schaber, Thiesfeldt, Kestell, Mursau, A. Ott, Bernier, and Tittl; the bill was also co-sponsored by Senator Grothman. The original wording of Act 288 required that a county—whether or not it maintained a consolidated library—make a library service payment to each eligible public library in an adjacent county if that library provided library service to its county residents.
Following concerns raised by the library community, a committee appointed by Wisconsin Library Association President Krista Ross developed recommendations to address those concerns and submitted them to Representative Dave Murphy’s office for consideration. Representative Murphy proposed an amendment to the bill and on February 13, 2014, the wording of Assembly Bill 288 was amended to require two things:
- Before a county that maintains a consolidated public library may bill an adjacent county for a library service payment, the county must provide notice of its intent to bill (by April 1 of each year) to libraries in the adjacent county.
- A county that maintains a consolidated public library and bills an adjacent county for a library service payment will be required to make payments to public libraries in the adjacent county. The amount of the library service payment is based on the number of library loans made by the billing library to residents who are not residents of a municipality that contains a branch of the consolidated county.
The Wisconsin Library Association, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, and the Outagamie County Board of Supervisors all supported the amended language for Assembly Bill 288. Published on March 28, 2014 as 2013 Wisconsin Act 157, the bill history, including links to the amendment, can be found at: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/ab288
The text for 2013 Act 157 is available at: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/related/acts/157.pdf
There are nine consolidated county public libraries in Wisconsin: Adams, Brown, Door, Florence, La Crosse, Marathon, Marinette, Portage, and Shawano. In addition, public libraries located in counties that are adjacent to these consolidated county libraries will be impacted if the consolidated county library requests payment for library service. The DPI's Division for Libraries and Technology (DLT) notified those two counties of the requirement to provide notice to libraries in adjacent counties by April 1 if they intend to request payments from those counties under the revised s. 43.12. The new law allows that libraries so notified are eligible for payment from the consolidated county, but only for service to residents of the consolidated county who live in municipalities without a library or library branch.