Starting a public library: Resources and questions

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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?

Additional considerations

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 accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Resources

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—lsc@tsl.texas.gov  Here are some titles you may find helpful:

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.

You can also keep in contact with the Texas State Library and other small libraries via the Library Developments blog, the Public Library E-Newsletter and the Small Library Management Facebook page.

We are always happy to answer questions you may have; you can reach us via email at ld@tsl.texas.gov, or via phone at 1-800-252-9386.

 

Page last modified: February 6, 2020