On March 27, 2006, Governor Doyle signed SB 273 (the "Language" Bill), which updates and clarifies language in Chapter 43 relating to public libraries and public library systems. The bill became law as Act 226 [PDF].
On May 19, 2006, Governor Doyle signed SB 272 (the "Reform" Bill), which makes more substantial modifications to statutory provisions relating to the organization and funding of public libraries and public library systems. The bill became law as Act 420 [PDF].
Both acts were based on recommendations of State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster's Task Force on Public Library Legislation and Funding. The task force, which included representation of the public library community as well as citizen and legislative members, conducted a comprehensive review of issues facing Wisconsin's public libraries and library systems.
Some of the provisions of Act 420 are highlighted below.
Act 420 [PDF] modifies statutory provisions relating to the organization and funding of public libraries and public library systems. The following is a summary of the bill:
- Intercounty Funding Requirement. Provide that the 70% minimum reimbursement responsibility for counties be extended to use of libraries in adjacent counties including adjacent counties across system borders (excluding the Milwaukee County Federated Library System).
- Intermunicipal (Crossover) reimbursement plans. Allow a plan of library services for a county to require public libraries to compensate other public libraries in the county for crossover lending of library materials. The per-transaction level of compensation required under the intermunicipal lending of library materials reimbursement plan could not exceed the actual costs of providing the services
- Joint library agreements must:
a) Provide for review and adjustment of the number of library board appointments allocated to each participant within one year of the publication of population figures from the federal decennial census.
b) Provide that one of the participant organizations agree to act as the fiscal agent for the library, handle the payroll and benefit administration for library staff, pay library insurance costs, and handle library financial record-keeping and auditing. Documented costs for providing these services can be included toward the participant's required financial support for the library.
c) Provide a procedure for dissolution of assets and liabilities in case the joint library is dissolved.
- DLTCL Requests for System Aid. Modify Section 43.24(6) to allow more flexibility to the Department of Public Instruction in recommending how state funding at the 13% index level will be allocated.
- System Configuration. Encourage the continued efficiency of the public library system structure:
a) Prohibit the creation of additional public library systems.
b) If, because of the withdrawal or realignment of participating counties, a public library system has fewer than three counties and a population under 200,000 (formerly 100,000), the remaining parts of the system shall realign with an existing system within 2 years after the date on which the population falls below 200,000.
c) Encourage the merging of public library systems by making the only requirement for merger the approval of the public library system boards and the participating county boards of both of the public library systems to be included in the merged system.
- Minimal operating standards for libraries as a condition of library system membership:
a) Require that a public library pay the certified head librarian for a minimum of 10 regularly scheduled hours per week of work in the library building during time the library is open to the public.
b) Require that a public library provide a public library facility open to the public a minimum annual average of 20 hours per week by the year 2008; existing libraries would be required to be open 20 hours per week or the number of hours each week they were open in 2005, whichever is fewer.
c) Require that a public library annually spend a minimum of one fourth of the minimum amount recommended in Wisconsin Public Library Standards (this would amount to $2,500) on library materials (including electronic materials) by the year 2008.
- County Board Approval for Libraries in Consolidated Libraries. Require that a city or village in a county that operates a consolidated county library must first obtain county board and county library board approval before establishment of a library if the municipality lies wholly within the county.
For more information, go to http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/acts where you will find the complete text of each act.