Public Library Standards

Under Maine law (Title 27, Chapter 4, Article 112-2), the Maine Library Commission (MLC), as the governing body of the Maine State Library (MSL), has the authority to establish policies and minimum standards for the state’s library program. The Library Commission recognizes the need for the development and regular review of library standards.  Standards provide assurance of a library's continuing effort to provide quality and meaningful services to the citizens of Maine. The current standards were developed by a committee of the Maine Library Association (MLA) with representation from all sizes of libraries as well as geographic regions. The standards were approved by MLA membership in October, 2019 and by the Maine Library Commission in December, 2019.

These standards grew out of the definition of a public library developed by the Federal -State Cooperative System (FSCS).

A public library is established under state laws or regulations to serve a community, district, or region. A public library provides, at a minimum, the following:

  • An organized collection of printed or other library materials, or a combination thereof;
  • Paid staff;
  • An established schedule in which the services of the staff are available to the public;
  • Facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff and schedule; and
  • Supported in whole or in part with public funds.

In 2012, the Maine Library Commission used this definition to further refine the requirements and thresholds required to be designated as a public library in Maine. The commission's full definition is fundamental to maintaining status as a recognized public library that is eligible for support (direct or indirect) from federal Library School and Technology Act (LSTA) funds. Every new library requesting public library status with eligibility for LSTA services must apply to the commission indicating that they have met this definition.

Starting with the 2019 annual report (submitted by April 1, 2020), libraries are required to validate and reaffirm that they meet the definition as described in the newly adopted standards. In addition to the required standards, the full standards [PDF, 152 KB] have two other levels that libraries can aspire to: Enhanced and Exemplary.Use the spreadsheet [Excel, 24 KB]to calculate your total. In 2020, the Maine Library Commission will provide a certificate to your library indicating that you meet the required definition.