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How to Start a Library

Steps to Create a Municipal Public Library

1. Establish a city ordinance

The establishment, structure and governance of public libraries in Oklahoma are outlined in the Oklahoma Statutes.  Title 11 (PDF) delineates the powers of cities and towns.

2. Establish a Library Board

Governing authority for the municipal library rests with the City Council or Commission who have delegated some responsibility to an advisory Library Board. Be sure to check with your local government for chain of command. The Mayor or Council appoints persons with an interest in libraries to the Board.  The board sets policy and advises the City on issues relating to the library.  These issues may include such things as appointment of a Director, the budget, and the schedule of fines and fees.  Personnel and fiscal issues remain the prerogative of the City Council.  Library employees are City employees and follow the same personnel rules as all other employees regarding pay scales and benefits.  The Library Director is a Department Head and works directly for the City Manager (or designee) or the City Council.

The Board consists of 5 – 9 members who each serve a three-year term in compliance with Title 11 of the Oklahoma Statutes.  The number of terms that a Board member may serve is indefinite unless specified by City ordinance.  It is necessary that Board members do not serve indefinitely.  If so, the Board represents only a special-interest group and not the entire community.  Board members should be chosen to represent all of the community – ethnicity, age, sex, social and economic status.

See Oklahoma Library Trustee Handbook (PDF).

The Library’s budget process is the same as other City departments.  All expenditures are approved by the City Council and the Library follows the same purchasing rules as all other departments.

3. Apply for State Aid

Once legally established, the Library is eligible for state aid as long as certain rules and regulations (PDF) are met. The Library will submit an annual report to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries in order to determine state aid eligibility. Contact a Library Consultant in your region for more information.

Sample Ordinance




SECTION 1.  It is the desire and intent of the governing body of the city of Beautiful to provide free public library service to the residents of the city of Beautiful, for the benefit of the city, the State and the Nation.

SECTION 2.   The Beautiful Public Library is hereby established.

SECTION 3.   The Beautiful Public Library shall be advised by a Board of Directors consisting of five (5) members with reference to their fitness for such office by the Mayor and City Council.  All library board Directors shall serve thereon without compensation.

SECTION 4.  Said board members shall hold office for a term of three years from the first day of May following their appointment.  At the first regular meeting of the Board, the Directors shall cast lots for respective terms of one (1) year, two (2) years and three (3) years; thereafter the terms of all Directors shall be for three (3) years.  Vacancies in the library Board of Directors shall be filled in the same manner as original appointments.

SECTION 5.  Any member of the Board of Directors may be removed by the appointing authority for misconduct or neglect of duty.

SECTION 6.  Immediately after the initial appointment, the Board of Directors shall meet and organize by electing one Director as president, one Director as secretary, and by electing such other officers as the Board may deem necessary.  They shall adopt such rules and regulations for their own guidance and for the governance and operation of the library as may be expedient and not inconsistent with this Ordinance and laws of Oklahoma, subject to approval of the Mayor and Council of the city of Beautiful.

SECTION 7.  The Board shall, with the approval of the Mayor and the City Council, appoint a suitable librarian and assistants and set their compensation.  The Board shall recommend an annual budget to the governing body of the city.  The Board shall set the policy of the library, control the expenditure of all moneys collected and placed to the credit of the library as may be provided by ordinances of the municipality, supervise and care for the grounds, rooms, or buildings constructed, leased or set aside for the library.

SECTION 8.  All moneys received by the Board on account of the operation of the library shall be paid to the city treasurer, who shall deposit the same in the municipal treasury in a special and separate account designated the “library fund”.  Such moneys shall be paid out only upon warrants authorized by the library Board of Directors.

SECTION 9.  The library Board of Directors shall make, on or before the thirty-first (31st) day of July in each year, an annual report to the Mayor and the City Council.  Such report shall include the condition of its trust on the thirtieth (30th) day of June; the various sums of money and property received by the library and how such moneys have been expended; the budget for the library for the next fiscal year; and statistics on the general character and number of books and periodicals which are on hand, are lost, have been added, and have been loaned out; and the number of persons making use of the library during the year.  A similar report shall be filed at that time with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries on forms supplied by that Department.

SECTION 10.  The Mayor and City Council shall annually appropriate to the library Board of Directors from funds available to the city such moneys as are deemed necessary to operate and maintain the Beautiful Public Library for the education and cultural enrichment of the citizens of Beautiful.

SECTION 11.  All ordinances and parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

SECTION 12.  This Ordinance shall be in force and take effect from and after its passage, approval and publication as required by law.


Passed by the Council this ______ day of _________________, 20___.


Approved by the Mayor this ________ day of _________________, 20__.



____________________________         ________________________________

City Clerk                                                       Mayor


Last Modified on Oct 05, 2022