It is very important to understand library funding to:
Prevent misunderstandings between the library and the city
To be good stewards of the public's money
Where Does the Money Come From?
The library receives primary funding from the city's General Fund which is raised by levying property taxes. In Iowa, there is a cap on the amount a city may levy for the General Fund of $8.10 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. Many cities have been at this limit for a number of years. Additional funds come only from increased valuation of property or special levies.
We also receive support from the county to serve rural residents. Public libraries are funded from the county's rural services fund which includes road clearing, weed eradication, and sanitary disposal. The maximum levy for rural services is $3.95 per $1,000 of assessed value in the unincorporated areas of the county.
We receive about $3,000 - $4,000 in State Aid through Iowa Library Services (the State Library), for being Accredited and for participating in programs like Open Access. They also provide free consultation, state-wide inter-library loan, professional development opportunities, and a wide variety of other services.
And the KPL Foundation (our 501(c)3 non-profit partner) enhances the library with private donations and grants for special projects.
Iowa Code 256.69
Both city and county support of public libraries is mandated by Iowa Code §256.69.
The Code does not require every city and county to have a library, but every city and county is expected to provide funding for public library service. If a city does not have a library, it should contract with and pay a library in a neighboring city to provide service to their residents. That is why there is a contract between Lee County and the 5 Lee County Libraries to serve rural residents.