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Public Library Funding



Public library funding can come from a number of sources including federal library funding, state library funding, and local sources. Read this article for statistics and more information about public library funding.

The June, 2009 report of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which gives information on Fiscal Year 2007, makes it clear that the primary source of public library revenues is local funding. But this does not mean that other sources are not involved. This article gives an overview of public library funding.

Federal Funding of Public Libraries

Some funding for libraries, though not the majority, comes from federal funding. The funding, called the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is included in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill passed each year by Congress. This bill provides funds to local public libraries, as well as to federal libraries, such as the Library of Congress and other national libraries. Most of these funds are distributed to the states by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Libraries can also benefit from other types of federal funding. One example is funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But overall, only 0.4 percent of public libraries’ budgets came from federal funds in FY 2007.

State Funding of Public Libraries

State funding for public libraries provides far more funds than federal sources, but still far less than local sources. FY 2007 state funding made up 7 percent of public libraries’ budgets, down from 9 percent in FY 2006. This decline began in FY2002 after fairly steady state-funding of libraries at between 12 and 13 percent from 1998 to 2001.

Local Funding of Public Libraries

Local funding makes up the major portion of public library funding. Fortunately as state funding has dropped, the local funding has picked up, increasing from a fairly steady rate between 77 and 78 percent in FY 2001. From FY2006 to FY2007, the 2 percent drop in state funding was made up by local funding, which increased from 82 percent in FY 2006 to 84 percent in FY2007.

Other Funding of Public Libraries

The second greatest source of funds for public libraries was “other sources,” including gifts and donations of money, fees, fines, grants, and interest earned. In FY2007, this amounted to 9 percent of public library funding. The ten states to receive the most funding from other sources were as follows:

#

State

Amount

1

New York

$169,787,000

2

California

$89,663,000

3

Ohio

$75,947,000

4

Illinois

$60,891,000

5

Pennsylvania

$49,117,000

6

Maryland

$40,040,000

7

Florida

$31,571,000

8

Michigan

$29,642,000

9

Connecticut

$27,259,000

10

Nevada

$23,772,000

Another factor to be aware of when considering public library funding is that not every state receives funding from federal, state, and local sources. For example, in FY2007, Ohio public libraries received no federal funding and Arkansas libraries apparently didn’t (but only 95.8% responded to the survey, so it cannot be stated for sure). In the same year, the District of Columbia received no state funding, and Hawaii received no local funding.

Per Capita Funding

The total operating revenue of public libraries - a figure primarily made up of funding - varies widely by location in the United States. In FY2007, Mississippi had the lowest per capita revenue, at $15.97/person. The highest, more than 4.5 times more, was in the District of Columbia, which had $74.68 in revenue per capita. The average for the US was $37.66, and 19 states and D.C. had amounts more than this, while 31 states had amounts that were lower. The top ten states in total public library operating revenue per capita were:

#

State

Per Capita Amount

1

District of Columbia

$74.68

2

Ohio

$64.02

3

New York

$61.43

4

Illinois

$59.91

5

New Jersey

$56.48

6

Wyoming

$52.66

7

Colorado

$51.78

8

Washington

$51.31

9

Connecticut

$49.83

10

Maryland

$48.03

Sources

harvester.census.gov

ala.org