Definition of a Maine Public Library

The mission of the Maine State Library is to advance and promote library services and collection resources for all of Maine.

In order to effectively assist public libraries in Maine by offering state and federal resources, it is important that the most basic attributes that serve as the foundation of a fully-functional Public Library be defined. These attributes will help to ensure that ‘public library services’ are consistent throughout the state and for all communities in Maine who have and support their own Public Library, these attributes underscore the importance of sustainability of such an organization.

A Maine public library is defined by the Maine Library Commission as having the following attributes:


  1. Is a town department or an organization with a governing board that:
    1. Has adopted written by-laws which outline the board's purpose, set the frequency of meetings, define the number of board members, specify the procedures for the appointment of committees, specify operational procedures and address conflict of interest issues;
    2. Hires/appoints the library director/librarian and delegates to the library director full professional responsibility for administering and managing the library, its policies, personnel and finances, as well as the selection of materials; and
    3. Ensures that library statistics and financial records are kept, and that both statistics and financial records are incorporated into a written annual report made to the community.
  2. Creates and adheres to basic library policies including but not limited to Collection Development, Internet Safety/CIPA and an acceptable use policy that addresses access by minors. Have circulation practices and policies that protect patron confidentiality.
  3. Has a mission statement defining the services available to the community.
  4. Is supported in whole or in part with public funds.
  5. Is a member of the Maine Regional Library System.

Staff and Facility:

  1. The library, no matter how small, has a permanent, paid library director who is responsible for the administration of library services. To meet this requirement the library director may receive a stipend from the sponsoring entity.
    1. The library director plans, organizes, manages and directs a program of library services that serve all people in the community.
    2. The library director is responsible for completing and submitting an Annual Report to the Maine State Library in a format acceptable to the Maine State Library.
  2. Has a staff member who subscribes, reads and responds when necessary to MEINFO or MELIBS listserve.
  3. Supports staff attendance at continuing education.

Collection and Programming:

  1. Has an organized collection of printed or other library materials, or a combination thereof.
  2. Has a physical presence with the facilities necessary to support a collection, staff, and schedule that:
    1. Complies with building, fire, safety, sanitation and other applicable federal, state and local codes and legal requirements with at least one well maintained public restroom;
    2. Has an established published schedule in which services of the staff are available to the public year round of no less than 12 hours per week;
    3. Has an exterior sign which clearly identifies the building as a library;
    4. Has telephone service and the telephone number is published;
    5. Provides public internet access and offers designated public access computer(s); and
    6. Provides an up-to-date bibliographic card catalog or automated catalog arranged and indexed in the most useful form for patrons.
  3. Offers regularly scheduled public programming such as story times, book clubs, etc.