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HE LIBRARY is recognized as one of the important services of
an adequate and appropriate collection of books and other printed materials. It must be administered by a librarian not only skilled in library techniques but also thoroughly aware of the philosophy, the objectives, and the educational program of the school. Furthermore, it must have the financial support necessary to carry on its operations effectively.
The meeting of these requirements normally involves either some administrative regulations or express legislation. In the former case, the power which establishes the school library and keeps it operating is based on implied authorization in a general law; in the latter it is a legal provision specifically directed at school libraries. Purpose and Scope of Study
This study is limited strictly to a consideration of express legislation, and administrative regulations or practice have been excluded from its scope, except in a few cases where their inclusion as a note has been necessary for clarification of a point. Moreover, no attempt has been made to evaluate the laws affecting libraries, but to present them as found in the statutes.
The purpose of this study is to aid school boards, administrators, teachers, librarians, and planning boards who may wish to know what specific legislation affecting school libraries is in force, which States have enacted it, and what are the main points covered by the laws.
What are the legal specifications regarding the establishment of school libraries? What legal provisions are in force regarding financial support, certification of librarians, approval of books, and the relationships with other agencies? These are some of the questions, frequently asked of the United States Office of Education, which this bulletin may help to answer. Sources of Data and Method
For the study, the sources of data have been the consolidated statutes of the various States, the session laws, the school laws, reports and other publications of State departments of education, and correspondence with State school officials. It was necessary to use the consolidated statutes, since not all the school laws contain the provisions relating to public libraries.
The method used was first to digest in summary form all legislation that could be found on the specific subject. After entries under "libraries" in the indexes had been exhausted, a search was made of the laws on the powers and duties of State and county school officials and officials of the various types of school districts, in order to find
any provisions expressly affecting school libraries. The same technique was employed in tracing possible school services in public library laws.
The classification of the material under common headings was the second step in the procedure. The following headings, which were decided upon after considerable experimentation and a number of conferences, form the first divisions around which the subject matter for each State digest is organized:
1. Procedures for establishment.
7. Relationships with public libraries. A second division of the material in the State digests has been made under “district,” “county,” and “State," since in most of the States school organization and administration follow those units. Notes have been made whenever there are exceptions to this classification. For the purpose of this study, the District of Columbia was considered as a State.
The third step was to send the State digests to the chief State school officers with the request that they be checked for any inaccuracies and omissions, and returned to the Office. All of the digests were verified, returned, and necessary corrections were made as suggested.
The bulletin is in two parts. The first part consists of summary tables which show the express legal provisions affecting school libraries and also the States in which they are in effect. Part II contains the digests for each State as verified by the State officers. In using these digests, it is well to remember that school library legislation must be considered in the light of laws affecting the whole school program.
HIS SECTION of the bulletin contains summary tables showing the various express legal provisions that affect school libraries.
In using these tables, the reader may find it desirable to consult the State digests which form part II. Procedures for Establishment
As may be seen from table 1, laws in 21 States have expressly provided for the establishment of school libraries. They do this even though in some instances no legal provision has been made for the support of these libraries after they are established. The laws of 7 of the 21 States-Idaho, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington-give the establishment of libraries as a purpose or one of the purposes for providing financial support. (See table 2, column 8.)
The type of districts or schools affected in the 21 States are given in column 2 of table 1. In order to avoid misinterpretation, the terms used in the law are enclosed in quotation marks; as for example, "any," "every," "third class."
The question of compulsory or optional legislation regarding establishment is important, but the interpretation of the phraseology is frequently difficult and sometimes can be made only in the light of the general school laws and upon court decisions. Accordingly in column 3, no attempt at interpretation has been made, but instead the exact phrasing of the law has been indicated by means of quotation marks; as for example, "Must provide” libraries, “Authorized” to furnish libraries, and “May establish and maintain” libraries. The laws in 9 of the 21 States contained in table 1 provide also for the maintenance of school libraries as well as the establishment.
Of the 26 types of districts or schools in the 21 States (columns 2 and 4), legal responsibility for the establishment of school libraries rests with the governing body of the local school district in the following instances: Arizona, California (district and city boards of education), Florida, Idaho, Illinois (5 types of districts), Michigan (2 types of districts), New York ("city" school districts), Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee (county boards of education), Utah, West Virginia. In 3 cases the responsibility for the establishment of school libraries rests with the State or county chief school officer-Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin; in 3 others with the school district-Delaware, Minnesota, and New Jersey; and in the following 3 with the inhabitants—Maryland, New York ("Any” school district), and Tennessee (“any” public school).
In this discussion it is reasonable to infer that any school district may provide library service for schools through general legal powers