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State Library Standards - Overview 

See also: Forward to Basics: Expansion of Tom Hennen's March 2000 American Libraries article on Library Standards.

Hennen’s  web page is an adjunct to and expansion of the article “Why We Should Establish a National System of Standards” by Thomas J. Hennen Jr.  The article was published beginning in the March 2000 issue of American Libraries, a publication of the American Library Association. 

In 1950 R.M. McColvin   made an observation that is all the more true today: “Library services that are not based on high standards are probably not worth bothering about at all.  Many of the public libraries operating throughout the world are an extravagant waste of public money because they are too bad to do anything that is worth doing.  A good library is never an extravagance, a bad one always is.” 

Complete list of State Standards  Selected State Standards 
Library Statistics & Performance Measures International Federation of Library Associations 's Guidelines for Public Libraries  Selected print resources.


State Library Standards 

I try to keep these links current but pages keep changing, of course.  If there is a link that has stopped working, please let us know.  Susan Mark at Wyoming State Library has been most helpful on this. 


State Online ? Exist ? URL (If available) 
AK Yes Yes http://www.apls.state.al.us/ 
AL No Yes Not available online
AR No No None
AZ No No None
CA No No None
CO Yes Yes http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/Standards/Index_FullText.htm 
CT Yes Yes http://www.cslib.org/stand.htm 
DE Yes Yes http://www.flalib.org/library/fla/flplstan.htm
FL Yes Yes http://www.flalib.org/publications_tab_files/FLPubLibStds_4_10_09.pdf
GA Yes Yes http://www.georgialibraries.org/lib/publiclib/standards.pdf
HI No No None
IA Yes Yes http://www.statelibraryofiowa.org/ld/accr-and-standards
ID Yes Yes http://spidaweb.eils.lib.id.us/standards/
IL Yes Yes http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/T05900/A00010.PDF?
IN Yes Yes http://www.statelib.lib.in.us/WWW/LDO/PUBSTAN17.HTML
KS Yes Yes http://skyways.lib.ks.us/KSL/development/standards2006.html
KY Yes Yes http://www.kdla.state.ky.us/intro/lstaata.htm
LA Yes Yes http://www.state.lib.la.us/la_dyn_templ.cfm?doc_id=278
MA Yes Yes http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/index.php
MD No No None
ME Yes Yes http://mainelibraries.org/_documents/mla_standards_2007.pdf
MI Yes Yes http://tln.lib.mi.us/~plfig-committees/qsac-committee.htm
MN Yes Yes http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/groups/Library/documents/Manual/003579.pdf
MO Yes Yes http://mosl.sos.state.mo.us/lib-ser/libser.html
MS No No None
MT Yes Yes http://msl.mt.gov/For_Librarians/For_Public_Librarians/standards/adminrules.pdf
NC Yes Yes http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/ld/ncplda/guidelines.htm
ND No No None
NE Yes Yes http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/libdev/revguid.html 
NH Yes Yes None
NJ Yes Yes http://www.njla.org/statements/ServiceStandards4.pdf
NM Yes Yes http://www.nmcpr.state.nm.us/nmac/parts/title04/04.005.0002.htm 
NV No No None
NY Yes Yes http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/ministan.htm 
OH Yes Yes http://winslo.state.oh.us/services/LPD/standards.html
OK No Yes Published in 1998, not available online, being revised in 2003.
OR Yes Yes http://data.memberclicks.com/site/ola/pld_standards_format.doc
PA Yes Yes In print, not online
RI Yes Yes http://www.olis.ri.gov/pubs/plstandards/index.php
SC Yes Yes Not available online 
SD Yes Yes http://www.usd.edu/sdla/PublicLibs/CA.htm
TN No Yes Not available online 
TX Yes Yes http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/plstandards/
UT Yes Yes http://library.utah.gov/documents/LibraryCertificationFY2009Final.pdf
VA Yes Yes http://www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/ldnd/standards/default.asp
VT Yes Yes http://libraries.vermont.gov/libraries/standards
WA No No None
WI Yes Yes http://dpi.wi.gov/pld/standard.html
WV No No None
WY No No None

Narrative on selected State Library Standards 


Indiana Library Standards

The standards are part of the state administrative code and must be met in order for a public library to receive state and federal aid.  For example, libraries in smaller communities must be open at least 20 hours per week, including at least one evening hour and "some" hours on weekends; the document also includes some non-required "guidelines"


Iowa.  In Service to Iowa:  Public Library Measures of Quality. 

Iowa’s standards are particularly well organized, comprehensive, clear, and well adapted for use on the web.


Iowa's voluntary public library standards program was established to document the condition of public library service in Iowa, to meet statutory requirements, and to give public libraries a tool for identifying strengths and areas for improvement.


In Service to Iowa, the standards program manual, is published by the State Library and is based on the recommendations of the State Library Standards Committee and the Iowa library community.


In this third edition of In Service to Iowa, 88 performance measures outline quality library service in six major areas:

1. Governance/Administration/Funding

4. Services

2. Staffing

5. Public Relations

3. Collections

6. Access/Facilities



Kansas: Measurements


Quality Public Library Standards For Kansas.

Measurements of Quality: Public Library Standards for Kansas, Revised 1995 contains not only quantitative but also qualitative goals toward which libraries should strive. The standards speak to the contributions library services make to the lives and the vitality of our communities.



Minnesota Library Standards

Very detailed standards are provided.  For each general topic (staff, materials, etc.) there are three levels of service standards: essential, enhanced, and excellent; includes standards for customer service, includes a list of 34 necessary policies each library should establish; includes a number of appendices, one of which is a voluntary librarian certification program with detailed philosophy competencies, public service competencies, technical services competencies, technology competencies, and managerial competencies


  New Hampshire State Library.  Statewide Library Development Standards

On June 19, 1998(?) the New Hampshire State Library Advisory Council approved the release of a discussion draft of the proposed Public Library Standards. This document is the first step in developing a consensus document that the State Library can then submit to the formal Administrative Rules process to enact new Standards. It is the intent of the Advisory Council that this draft be widely distributed and discussed. To that end Sue Palmatier, Library Development System Coordinator, is prepared to meet with Area Library Forums, library cooperatives, library organizations and individuals to listen to your ideas and concerns. These standards are written as State Statutes. 


New York State Library Standards

Library Development staff worked extensively with librarians, trustees and other interested stakeholders for the better part of a decade to update New York's 1950 public library standards. The Regents endorsed five nonmonetary standards in 1989, but postponed adopting others until the Local Library Services Aid program was put in place during 1993. On December 17, 1993, the New York State Board of Regents adopted amendments to section 90.2 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education related to standards for registration of public, free association and Indian libraries. The regulations became effective on February 4, 1994.

  The state administrative code includes minimum standards to be an official public library, such as hours open per week for population. 

"Doorways to Information in the 21st Century: Every New York Library an Electronic Doorway Library" includes 23 detailed recommendations for public libraries to serve as electronic doorways to information.  The purpose is to ensure equity of access to electronic information for all New Yorkers.  Three levels of Electronic Doorway Libraries (EDL) are: basic, advanced and leader. (34% of the 7,000 libraries in the State*including school libraries--have been recognized as an EDL to date)


North Carolina Library Standards

These "guidelines" are straightforward.   There is not much explanatory or introductory information. The site includes a number of prescriptive quantitative standards, including:  allocate at least 2% of budget for staff continuing education, at least one FTE per 2000 service population, at least one-third FTE's are MLS librarians, at least two staff on duty at all times, at least 5% of collection withdrawn annually (excluding genealogy, local history materials), "full service library facility" is open a minimum of 60 hours/week, all library services are available whenever the library is open, at least one parking space per 200 sq. ft. of facility, one workstation per 2500 service area population, at least one FTE computer technician per 50 workstations, at least one staff member can talk to computer technicians and perform basic troubleshooting


Rhode Island Public Library Standards

The minimum standards are tied to the state aid program. National public library standards were last issued by the American Library Association in 1966 and do not accurately reflect the current challenges and concerns of public libraries today.  Public library standards are criteria by which public libraries are measured and evaluated. Such standards represent objective, observable, and in most cases, quantitative measures -- measures that indicate the parameters of good or adequate public library service. Underlying public library standards are certain principles and beliefs regarding the role of public libraries in a modern and free society and certain principles and beliefs as to how public libraries can function in this role. Thus, it is a synthesis of practice and principle that is the true measure of a public library's worth. Public library standards function to aid libraries and communities in improving and strengthening library services. In addition, they serve as criteria for state and federal public library funding.


Texas Library Association Ad Hoc Committee on Public Library Standards. 

The TLA ad hoc Committee on Public Library Standards was created by the TLA Executive Board in January 1998 and charged with the creation of qualitative and quantitative standards for public library service in Texas.  This Web page is intended to provide information about the status of the work of this committee.  


Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. 

Wisconsin's public library standards are voluntary and are established as one tool to assist local libraries to plan for service improvements. Wisconsin's public library standards are not related to a library's status as a legal public library and are not related to library system membership requirements.





Standards and Planning – Periodical articles & reports


DeProspo, Ernest R.  Measurement of Effectiveness of Public Library Service Study. A Report on Phases I and II.”  January 1971.  Public Library Association, Chicago, IL. (BBB01363); Bureau of Libraries and Educational Technology (DHEW/OE), Washington, DC. (BBB04004) ERIC#: ED075052.  70 p.  The basic rationale for this study was that attempts to measure the service capabilities of public libraries, either in relation to the needs of their communities or to the standards adopted by the profession, are hampered by the lack of criteria of quality or effectiveness. It was recognized that new measures were needed to gauge effectiveness while eliminating extraneous factors. Specifically, these two phases reported upon here were designed to (1) identify measurement criteria which would discriminate among public library services, (2) develop an operational methodology whereby local librarians could collect the necessary data for processing and refinement, and (3) demonstrate that the measurement criteria could be put into a theoretical model which would provide a professional basis for assessing the activity of basic programs. The following criteria were studied: description of collection, building usage, circulation, facilities usage, patterns of reference usage, and public service personnel. 


Moorman, John.  Standards for Public Libraries: A Study in Quantitative Measures of Library Performance as Found in State Public Library Documents.” Public Libraries v36 n1 p32-39 Jan-Feb 1997.  ISSN: 01635506  Discussion of public library standards focuses on an examination of four quantitative standards: hours of service, library resources, library staff, and library operating budgets, to determine if any agreement exists about them among states. Results indicate that there is no consensus regarding public library standards or approaches to public library evaluation.


O'Connor, Daniel O.  Evaluating Public Libraries Using Standard Scores: The Library Quotient.”  Library Research v4 n1 p51-70 Spr 1982.  Describes a method for assessing the performance of public libraries using a standardized scoring system and provides an analysis of public library data from New Jersey as an example. Library standards and the derivation of measurement ratios are also discussed.


Olson, Renee; Glick, Andrea.   Professor links library school students with `virtual' mentors.”  School Library Journal, Oct96, Vol. 42 Issue 10, p18, 2/9p.  Focuses on library science professor Joy McGregor's course called `Librarians as Instructional Partners' in which her students are linked with real-life practitioners via the Internet. Benefits of using the Internet; Sample exercises and activities.


Owen, Amy.  Current Issues and Patterns in State Standards for Public Library Service.”  Public Libraries v31 n4 p213-22 Jul-Aug 1992  ISSN: 01635506.  Explores current patterns of recency, structure, intent, scaling, and planning and measurement in state library standards. Ways that four states--Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and Ohio--have adapted basic standards elements are considered, and issues in linking planning and measurement to standards are discussed. (MES)


Owen, Amy.  Public Library Standards: The Quest for Excellence. White House Conference on Library and Information Services.  January 1, 1991.  Paper prepared for the White House Conference on Library and Information Services (2nd, Washington, DC, July 9-13)

Standards for public libraries have undergone dramatic changes in the last decade. Traditional standards measured only "inputs," or what the community put into the library in terms of staff, books, funding, etc. However, these standards did not measure the services that the library produced, and, as a result, the Public Libraries Association (PLA) developed a series of publications that established a national standard for the planning processes and output measures for public libraries. In the mid-1980s the Public Library Development Program (PLDP) further developed these concepts and introduced two new concepts: library roles and nationally collected public library statistics. Although state standards for public libraries are more diverse than national standards as a result of each state's own unique context and their responses to national guidelines, newly developing national and state standards offer exciting potential.


Van House, Nancy A. and Thomas Childers. "Dimensions of Public Library Effectiveness II: Library Performance." Library and Information Science Research 12:2 (April-June 1990) pp. 131-53.

Weech, Terry L. “National Accreditation of Public Libraries: A Historical Perspective. “Public Libraries v28 n2 p119-25 Mar-Apr 1989.   Reviews the history of proposals for accrediting public libraries nationally and examines four distinct proposals made from 1960 to 1988. The discussion addresses barriers to national accreditation of public libraries and the prospects for the success of the most recent proposal of the Commission for the Accreditation of Public Libraries.

 Wheeler, Joseph L. “What Good Are Public Library Standards?“  Library Journal 95, 3, 455-462, 70 Feb 1.   More significant public library measurements and standards, and better and prompter statistics on which to base them, are needed. Suggestions for developing new standards are given.


Standards and Planning - Monographs

American Library Association, Public Libraries Division, Public Library Service (Chicago: American Library Association, 1956)


American Library Association, Public Libraries Division. Minimum Standards for Public Library System  (Chicago: American Library Association, 1966)


American Library Association, Public Library Association, The Public Library Mission Statement and Its Imperatives for Service.  Chicago: American Library Association, 1979.  One of the pivotal documents in the change from standards to output based standards.         


Gregory, Ruth W. and. Stoffel, Lester L.,  Public Libraries in Cooperative Systems. Chicago: American Library Association, 1971.


Himmel, Ethel and Wilson, William James.  Planning for Results: A Public Library Transformation Process.  (Chicago: American Library Association, 1998)


Berelson, Bernard, The Library's Public: A Report of the Public Library Inquiry.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1949.


Joeckel,  Carleton B.  and Amy Winslow, A National Plan for Public Library Service (Chicago: American Library Association, 1948


Joeckel,  Carleton B.  The Government of the American Public Library Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1935.


Leigh, Robert D.,   The Public Library in the United States.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1950.


McClure, Charles R., Amy Owen, Douglas L. Zweizig, Mary Jo Lynch, and Nancy A. Van House,  Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 1987.


Nelson Associates for the PLA, Public Library Systems in the United States: A Survey of Multijurisdictional Systems.   Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 1969.


Palmour, Vernon E.  et al., A Planning Process for Public Libraries.  Chicago: American Library Association, 1980. This volume marked the abandonment of standards in favor of planning for outputs. 


Palmour, Vernon E.  and Marcia C. Bellassai, To Satisfy Demand: A Study Plan for Public Library Service in Baltimore County (Arlington, VA: Public Research Institute, a division of the Center for Naval Analyses, 1977), p. 9.


Molz, Redmond Kathleen and Dain, Phyllis;  Civic Space/Cyberspace:  The American Public Library in the Information Age. 1999.  The MIT Press.  This book explores the history, present circumstances and future prospects of American libraries.


U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, Toward a National Program for Library and Information Services: Goals for Action.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975. 


Van House, Nancy A. and Thomas A. Childers, The Public Library Effectiveness Study. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 1993.

Revised April 2010

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