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  Public Library Director's Guidebook


As noted elsewhere in this document, Chapter 51 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes contains the majority of library-related state statutes which will likely affect your library. However, there are other sections not specifically aimed at libraries but which have some potential to be pertinent. The laws listed below (which are not exhaustive) are in numerical order. Each one listed has a brief summary of the content of that law. You will want to read the entire statute, however, for a full understanding of the content.

  • 13-804, 13-806, 13-807, 13-825, 13-826, 13-827 - Interlocal Cooperation Act
    • Allows for separate governmental entities to provide public services jointly. For example, a public library might extend its services to the entire county in which it is located.
  • 13-2509 and 13-2502, 13-2550 - Joint Public Agency Act
    • Similar to Interlocal Cooperation Act, allows governmental units to cooperate with other governmental units.
  • 13-2530 - Public Facilities Construction and Finance Act
    • Allows revenue bonds to be issued on behalf of a joint public agency (see above) for joint projects. Libraries are not listed but are not excluded since the phrase "[projects] shall not be limited to" is used in the text. Note that this is for joint projects, so it could not be used for a library building in a single jurisdiction.
  • 16-101, 16-251, and 16-253 - Cities of the First Class Defined; Libraries and Museums; Powers of Mayor and Council
    • These three sections of state law basically give first class cities (population from 5,000 to 100,000) the power to establish and maintain public libraries. The choice is theirs, basically, as to whether to have a governing or advisory library board.
  • 17-967, 17-968, and 17-969 - Bonds (cities of the second class and villages)
    • These allow municipalities to issue bonds (following public votes on same) of from 5 to 20 years for site acquisition or construction of a public library. Also requires a vote of the people.
  • 17-969, 19-1301, and 19-1302 - Sinking Funds (cities of the second class and villages)
    • Enables municipalities to establish sinking funds (in essence, allowing the setting aside of moneys to construct or replace large capital items) to pay off bonds; to receive donations, bequests, gifts, etc. for "sinking fund"-type purposes (including for the public library); or to levy a tax for the purposes of establishing a sinking "for the construction, purchase, improvement, extension, original equipment, or repair...for one or more of the following public improvements, including...Municipal library...municipal public library, auditorium, or community house in a single building..."
  • Chapter 51 - Selected Sections:
    • 51-201 - Establishment of municipal public library by resolution of city council, village board, county commission, or township electors. Allows tax levy of up to 10.5 cents per $100 of assessment valuation on property. County library establishment requires vote of the people.
    • 51-201.01 - List of "basic" and "nonbasic" library services
    • 51-201.03 - Establishment of county library via petition of registered voters
    • 51-201.04 through 51.201.07 - Procedures to merge municipal public libraries at the same time a vote to establish a county library occurs; merger of assets and staff if passed; procedure for withdrawal of a municipal library from a county library
    • 51-202 - City council or village board, once it establishes a library, must appoint library board members, at least five, decide their length of terms, and decide whether the board will be appointed by them or elected by the people. Neither the mayor nor any council member may be a member of the library board.
    • 51-203 - Same as 51-202 above, but for county libraries
    • 51-204 - Library board must elect at least a President and Secretary; may have other officers.
    • 51-205 - Board has power to adopt bylaws, rules and regulations (policies) for its own guidance and for governing the library.
    • 51-206 - Board has power to release mortgage on any property it controls (usually not the library building itself which is normally a city or village building)
    • 51-207 - Board has "exclusive control of expenditures" of tax money, donated money for library purposes
    • 51-210 - Board may purchase or lease ground, exercise eminent domain to secure a site for a public library (note: should be used sparingly, if at all)
    • 51-211 - Board has power to choose appropriate building for the library, hire director and staff, set salaries, and remove staff. (Note: Commission recommends that the library director choose, propose salary, and recommend removal of staff other than the director.)
    • 51-213 - Board must make annual report to city council, village board, county or township board on or before second Monday in February each year "of the condition of its trust." The information to be included is listed.
    • 51-215 - Library may receive donated property (money, lands, other property) for the benefit of the library, and title to that property may be made to and shall be held by library board and its successors in office.
    • 72-2301 through 72-2308 - Public Facilities Construction and Finance Act
      • Allows governmental units to cooperate with other government units to issue bonds to finance joint projects. Specifically these sections of the law allow two or more libraries' governmental entities to float bonds up to $250,000 for Lincoln and Omaha, and up to $100,000 for first and second class cities, villages, counties, school districts, ESUs, and community colleges. No vote of the people is required, and such bonds do not fall under the tax lid. However a "remonstrance" process is included whereby a certain percentage of gathered signatures (depending on population and entity size and type) throws the decision on the bonds to a vote of the people.
    • 84-712.05 - Records That May be Withheld from the Public
      • Records retained by a public library which reveal the identity of a customer using the library's materials or services MAY be withheld from the public unless they are required to be disclosed in an open court, open administrative hearing, or open meeting. Note that this is "permissive" rather than mandatory, but the American Library Association, the Nebraska Library Commission, and the Nebraska Library Commission all recommend that such records not be disclosed unless such disclosure is ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. If your library retains records such as sign-up sheets for customers using public access computers for Internet searching, we recommend that you shred those records daily.
    • 84-1408 through 84-1414 - Public Meeting Laws (aka Open Meetings Act)
      • Library directors and library boards should become very familiar with these statutes to ensure that library board meetings are legal. Of particular interest are the following sections:
        • 84-1410 - Closed sessions - vote to go into; open meeting on personnel issue if person being discussed wants that; limits on discussion during closed session; challenge by participant; no votes allowed in closed session
        • 84-1411 - Meeting notices - reasonable advance, publicized notice; informative agendas; no alteration of agenda less than 24 hours ahead of start time
        • 84-1412 - public's right to attend, videotape, televise, etc. public meetings; rules concerning public participation
        • 84-1413 - any action employing a motion and second requires roll call vote which must be recorded in the minutes; draft minutes must be available within 10 days after meeting;
        • 84-1414 - motion, resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance, etc. taken in violation of Open Meetings Act be declared void by district court if suit brought; court may order payment of attorney's fees; punishments listed for violations

For the full text of Nebraska statutes, go to the following link provided by the Nebraska Legislature:


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