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FAQ About County Library Planning

Each of Wisconsin's 72 counties are members of a regional public library system.  In order to join a library system, each county was required to develop a county library plan. Counties are statutorily required to not only adopt but to maintain a county library plan in order to remain system members.  Library systems are required annually to certify statutory compliance of their member counties.

Wisconsin Statutes s. 43.11 provides an overview of the county library planning law. Also available is an outline of a sample county library plan that indicates the elements that must, by statute, be included in a county library plan.

Frequently asked questions about county library planning laws

(These answers are informal interpretations of the statutory provisions; libraries may wish to seek an attorney's opinion when applying the law to particular circumstances.)

What must be included in a county library plan?

Many issues can be addressed by a county library plan, but the statutes - s.43.11(3) - require that the plan address the following issues:

  • library services to county residents of municipalities not maintaining a public library
  • services shall include full access to all public libraries participating in the regional public library system and the plan shall provide for reimbursement for that access
  • plans involving multi-county systems shall include a method for allocating system board membership among the member counties

The statutes also require that any written agreements necessary to implement the proposed plan to be filed with the county board and the Division for Libraries and Technology.

What other issues can be addressed by a county library planning committee?

Issues related to the improvement of library services for county residents, including organization of a county library or county library service board, as well as the system affiliation of the county.  According to s. 43.11(1)(d), county library plans can also include minimum standards of operation for public libraries in the county (see below for special requirements for the adoption of minimum standards).

Who appoints a county library planning committee?

The county board. At the option of the county board, an existing county library board, county library service board or single-county library system board can be designated to serve as the county library planning committee. The Division for Libraries and Technology must be notified of the appointment of a county library planning committee.

Who serves on a county library planning committee?

Whoever is appointed by the county board. We recommend that committee members include representatives of public libraries in the county, county board members, and county residents of municipalities which do not maintain a public library. Library system representation on the committee or in an advisory capacity is also advisable.

How is a new or revised county library plan approved?

The county library planning committee must hold public hearings on any new or revised plan, to which representatives of all libraries in the county must be invited. The new or revised county library plan becomes official upon approval by the county board. An additional requirement is that all plans that include minimum standards for library operation must be approved by at least 50% of the municipal library boards in the county, which must represent at least 80% of the population of the municipalities with public libraries. The final plan must also be filed with the Division for Libraries and Technology.

How is a county library plan maintained?

A county library plan can be maintained through the annual adoption of a county budget for library services which meets statutory requirements.

Can the county funding required under Wis. Stats. s. 43.11 be provided to the system, with the system providing the actual reimbursements to member public libraries?

Yes. Like the "70 percent" reimbursements required under Wis. Stats. s. 43.12, the payments required under Wis. Stats. s. 43.11 can be passed through the system or county library service.

I have other questions. Who do I contact?

Contact your library system for specific questions about your county plan. Other questions can be directed to Shannon Schultz, Public Library Administration Consultant, (608) 266-7270.