During Midwinter 2016 in Boston, a working group of library organizations met to discuss possible joint projects to benefit the library industry. One foundational project that was identified was to help public libraries better understand what revenue models are available in state and local tax codes. As an industry we lack comprehensive current insights into the legal framework under which libraries can set a tax rates. COSLA, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, and EveryLibrary volunteered to conduct a state-by-state survey of library laws covering the various modes of governance and authority to tax exercised by public libraries as either independent districts or within a municipal structure.

Our colleague and EveryLibrary Advisor Kyle Courtney from Harvard Libraries graciously lent his research team to aid in the compilation of this narrative survey of state library laws. We expect that an open data set and a data visualization tool will be forthcoming in 2017 to be hosted on the COSLA website. We expect the results to have many uses across library organizations and for library planning.