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Indicator IV-4 State Library Agencies
NOTE TO READERS: Please include the following reference when citing data from this page: "American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators,".
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Updated (6/16/2010).

The official purpose of a state library agency is to extend and develop public library services throughout that state. These agencies are also authorized to receive and distribute funding under the Library Services and Technology Act, the major vehicle by which the federal government provides monies to states to support library services within their borders. Beyond these similarities, state agencies vary both with respect to their location within state government and in terms of the services they provide to libraries, government, and the general public. For example, in 2008, ten agencies served as the archives for their state.1 Elsewhere, state archives are run by other agencies; in California, for instance, they are a division of the Office of the Secretary of State and are operated with monies from that office’s budget. Thus, the data presented here on the fiscal condition of library agencies do not capture the full extent of state investment in library services, but they are the best available measure of the monies directed by states toward the preservation and development of library resources.

State funding represents the bulk of library agency revenue, constituting 81–86% of total revenues over fiscal years 1994–2008 (Figure IV-4a). Between the mid-1990s and 2001 these agencies’ total revenues increased 35%. Beginning in 2002, however, this trend was reversed, and by 2008 contractions of agency budgets in the intervening years had brought revenues down to $1.2 billion, 14% less than the 2001 high. Trends in per capita revenues were similar: a peak in 2001 followed by a fairly steady decline (Figure IV-4b). Although total 2008 revenues were above the 1994 level, population growth resulted in a 2008 per capita spending level (just under $4) that was almost identical to that observed a decade-and-a-half earlier. Since most library agency funding came from state coffers, the variation in funding levels was attributable mostly to changing state budget priorities.

Figure IV-4a, Full Size
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Figure IV-4b, Full Size
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Figure IV-4c tracks the amount of state library agency funding spent on financial assistance to libraries.2 In each year over the course of the 1994–2008 period, the majority of agency revenues, 64–70%, was spent on such assistance. As total agency budgets first rose and then declined, so did the level of funding made available to libraries. In 2008, approximately $809 million in state library agency revenues went to assist libraries and library cooperatives, down from the 2001 high of $975 million, but $151 million more than in 1994. Per capita expenditure rose 36% from 1994 to 2001 but by 2008 had returned to an amount ($2.68) similar to that spent in the mid-1990s.

Figure IV-4c, Full Size
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1 Henderson, E., Miller, K., Farrell, M., Brock, F., Dorinski, S., Freeman, M., Frid, L., Hardesty, L., Music, C., O’Shea, P., Sheckells, C. State Library Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2008, IMLS-2010–StLA-01 (Washington, DC: Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2009), 13 fig. 12.

2 Although funding was made available to both public and private libraries, the vast majority of these monies went to public institutions.

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