Starting a public library: Resources and questions
Starting a public library is quite an endeavor, and not one to be entered into lightly.
The answers to the following questions can help determine short- and long-term goals for library establishment and direction.
- Where are you in the process of starting a library?
- How will the library be established? Will it be a city library? County? Nonprofit corporation?
- What will the main source of funding be for the library? Will those funds be “public” (from a local government)?
- What kind of infrastructure do you have or need? Do you have a facility? Staff? Collections?
Once the library is open, it should submit the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport, to be included in the state directory and be eligible to order materials at no cost for its Summer Reading Program.
If the long-term goal is for the library to be accredited, it will need to work on meeting criteria described in the Minimum Standards for Accreditation in the State Library System, 13 TAC §1.71-§1.86, http://tinyurl.com/TACaccreditation. More information can be found here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/accreditation), or by contacting LDN staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Library Association Guide: Setting Up a Library
The American Library Association has an online guide for starting a library, which contains tips, suggestions and links to additional reading. You can find it online at http://libguides.ala.org/SettingUpaLibrary/PublicLibrary
Library Science Collection
The Texas State Library maintains a professional Library Science Collection (LSC) for the use of interested parties around Texas. Items from the collection can be loaned out to you and sent for free—email@example.com Here are some titles you may find helpful:
- The Public Library Start-Up Guide (ALA, 2004) – this title addresses the issues to consider when starting a new library, including building space, forming boards or advisory groups, securing sustainable financing and more.
- The Public Library Policy Writer: A Guidebook with Model Policies on CD-ROM (Neal-Schuman, 2008) – provides a full range of sample policies, along with discussion of common policies needed for a public library.
- Small Public Library Management (ALA, 2012) – a good, brief introduction to the basics of managing a small public library.
- Running a Small Library: A How-To-Do-It Manual (Neal-Schuman, 2015) – another good overview of areas that need to be addressed when running a small library.
- Hennen’s Public Library Planner: A Manual and Interactive CD-ROM (Neal-Schuman, 2004) – has some good samples of library policy documents.
- The Public Library Manager’s Forms, Policies, and Procedures Handbook (Neal-Schuman, 2004) – more sample policies.
Texas State Library Training and Communications
The Texas State Library offers a variety of training and communication opportunities that may be helpful in getting started, including:
- Small Library Management Training Program – offers online and in-person training in leadership and management as well as library operations.
- Webinars – webinars are provided throughout the year on a variety of library and grant-related topics.
We are always happy to answer questions you may have; you can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone at 1-800-252-9386.