Monday, October 4, 2010

Points to Consider before Voting on the Public Question of Placing Tax Caps into the Constitution

Official position of the Indiana Public Library Association (ILPA) of the Indiana Library Federation (ILF).

Yes, being a member of ILF is important. When being a member of an organization, you should ask yourself: "What can I do to make it [the organization] better," rather than, "What can it do for me?"

Points to Consider before Voting on the Public Question of Placing Tax Caps into the Constitution
It is time for Hoosiers to educate themselves, do research, and look deeper into the issue of permanently placing property tax caps into the state’s constitution. Voters will be asked to respond to this issue on the Nov. 2 ballot. Here are some points to consider:
• Popular Misconception: While the word “caps,” may entice property owners into thinking their taxes won’t increase, that is not the case. It is a cap on the taxes paid relative to the assessed value of the home. The assessed value can still rise.
• Truth: While many property-tax initiatives are politically popular, they often mask a hidden truth: the revenue lost likely leads to increases in many other kinds of taxes and user fees.
• Current: Caps are already in effect—they are in statute—having been enacted by the General Assembly. Libraries, schools, cities and towns, counties and other local units are already operating under the 1%, 2% and 3% limits. It is unnecessary to vote them into the Constitution. The caps will not guarantee homeowners’ property taxes to decrease.
• Future: Understand that if the amendment is approved by your vote on Nov. 2, it will take about five years to remove if, subsequently, it is judged to be too restrictive. We urge voters to appreciate the need for flexibility for all local government units.
Elected local officials, library directors, staff, educators and others involved in delivering necessary services at the local level have urged caution. The more prudent approach is to wait and see how significantly the statutory 1%, 2% and 3% caps impact the delivery of needed services.
• Fact: Everyone wishes for lower taxes but few want the consequent reductions in services. Citizens value good schools, good streets, quality libraries, emergency services, police protection and livable communities; property taxes are by far the most significant revenue stream which supports these services.
• Consequence: Placing tax caps into the constitution will result in some unintended consequences. You can expect user fees, fines, penalties and probably more regulatory fees to proliferate in your daily life due to loss of the revenue. The statutory caps have already resulted in local units experiencing decreases of millions of dollars for schools, libraries and other services.
• It is unnecessary to vote them into the Constitution because they are already law.
That is why it is important for YOU to do research and think about the result of your vote on Public Question #1 on the Nov. 2 ballot.

This statement was developed by members of the Indiana Library Federation, the Indiana Public Library Association, the Indiana Urban Schools Association, the Indiana PTA, the Association of Indiana Counties, Sustainable Libraries Coalition, Central Indiana Jobs with Justice, the NAACP Indianapolis (Branch #3053) and several educators.

IPLA website

Finally, a new post!

I can't believe that it has been well over a year since I last posted. Fortunately there hasn't been anything to report as far as the threat of consolidation to Indiana Libraries.

The next big issue is the editing the Indiana Constitution to place caps on property taxes. Many sides have valid points, but the point that matters is that the caps are already in place. Do we have traffic laws in the Constitution, no, so why does this have to be added. We are going to allow Legislators to tie their own hands and then we will be in a real mess.

Another point. Daniels running for President. Oh dear. One of the "buzz points" is that Indiana's budget is balanced. That's nice, but he did it by taking away money promised to the usual...only select bits of information are being provided.

Below is a text edition of a presentation delivered by Dr. Larry DeBoer of Purdue University entitled, "Indiana's Constitutional Referendum on Tax Caps, November 2010." If you would like a .pdf copy, please contact me here

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Purdue Cooperative Extension Service

Indiana’s Constitutional Referendum

on Tax Caps, November 2010

Larry DeBoer
Department of Agricultural Economics
Purdue University

August 2010

For more information

DeBoer’s Indiana Local Government Information Website:

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 What happened in 2008?
o Sales tax increase from 6% to 7%, on April 1.
o Added homestead credits reduce homeowner taxes by about one-third.
o Township trustees give up assessing duties to counties; most township
assessor offices are eliminated, as of July 1.
o Township assessors eliminated in 30 of 43 larger townships after voter
referendum on November 4.
o Capital projects become subject to referendum; as of June 2010 there have
been 30 capital projects referenda; 11 have passed.
o General Assembly passed first resolution to amend theprop erty tax caps into
the Indiana Constitution.

 What happened in 2009?
o State took over school general fund and county welfare funds, eliminating
those property tax levies.
o State property tax replacement credits and most homestead credits were
eliminated; small state homestead credit retained, to be phased out.
o Homeowners received new 35% homestead deduction.
o Tax caps begin phase in, at 1.5% of gross assessed value for homeowners,
2.5% for farm land and rental housing, and 3.5% for all other property;
created local revenue losses.
o General Assembly did not hold a second vote on amending the tax caps into
the Indiana Constitution.

 What’s happening in 2010?
o Tax caps tighten to permanent levels, at 1% of gross assessed value for
homeowners, 2% for farm land and rental housing, and 3% for all other
property; this creates greater tax savings and greater local revenue losses.
o State homestead credits continue to phase out.
o General Assemblypassed the second resolution to amend the tax caps into the
Indiana Constitution; Voters will see a referendum on November 2, 2010.


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HEA 1086 (2010); Public Law 113: SECTION 185. [EFFECTIVE UPON PASSAGE]

(a) If the amendment to Article 10, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana agreed to
by the One Hundred Fifteenth General Assembly (P.L.147-2008) is agreed to by the One
Hundred Sixteenth General Assembly, the amendment shall be submitted to the electors of the
state at the 2010 general election in the manner provided for the submission of constitutional
amendments under IC 3.

(b) Under Article 16, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, which requires the
general assembly to submit constitutional amendments to the electors at the next general election
after the general assembly agrees to the amendment referred to it by the last previously elected
general assembly, and in accordance with IC 3-10-3, the general assembly prescribes the form in
which the public question concerning the ratification of this state constitutional amendment must
appear on the 2010 general election ballot as follows:


amending the Constitution of the State of Indiana to do the following:
(1) Limit a taxpayer's annual property tax bill to the following percentages of gross
assessed value:
(A) 1% for an owner-occupied primary residence (homestead);
(B) 2% for residential property, other than an owner-occupied primary residence,
including apartments;
(C) 2% for agricultural land;
(D) 3% for other real property; and
(E) 3% for personal property.

The above percentages exclude any property taxes imposed after being approved by the
voters in a referendum.

(2) Specify that the General Assembly may grant a property tax exemption in the form of a
deduction or credit and exempt a mobile home used as a primary residence to the same extent as
real property?"


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RESOLUTION No. 1, 2010

A JOINT RESOLUTION proposing an amendment to Article 10, Section 1 of the Constitution
of the State of Indiana concerning taxation.

Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:

SOURCE: (10)SJ0001.2.1. --> SECTION 1. The following proposed amendment to the Constitution of
the State of Indiana, which was agreed to by the One Hundred Fifteenth General Assembly of the State of
Indiana and referred to this General Assembly for reconsideration and agreement, is agreed to by this the
One Hundred Sixteenth General Assembly of the State of Indiana.

SOURCE: CON 10; (10)SJ0001.2.2. --> SECTION 2. ARTICLE 10, SECTION 1 OF THE
(a) Subject to this section, the General Assembly shall provide, by law, for a uniform and equal rate of
property assessment and taxation and shall prescribe regulations to secure a just valuation for taxation of
all property, both real and personal.

(b) A provision of this section permitting the General Assembly to exempt property from
taxation also permits the General Assembly to exercise its legislative power to enact property tax
deductions and credits for the property. The General Assembly may impose reasonable filing
requirements for an exemption, deduction, or credit.
(c) The General Assembly may exempt from property taxation any property in any of the following
(1) Property being used for municipal, educational, literary, scientific, religious, or charitable
(2) Tangible personal property other than property being held as an investment.
(3) Intangible personal property.
(4) Tangible real property, including curtilage, used as a principal place of residence by an:
(A) owner of the property;
(B) individual who is buying the tangible real property under a contract; or
(C) individual who has a beneficial interest in the owner of the tangible real property.
(b) (d) The General Assembly may exempt any motor vehicles, mobile homes (not otherwise exempt
under this section), airplanes, boats, trailers, or similar property, provided that an excise tax in lieu of the
property tax is substituted therefor.
(e) This subsection applies to property taxes first due and payable in 2012 and thereafter. The
following definitions apply to subsection (f):
(1) "Other residential property" means tangible property (other than tangible property
described in subsection (c)(4)) that is used for residential purposes.
(2) "Agricultural land" means land devoted to agricultural use.
(3) "Other real property" means real property that is not tangible property described in
subsection (c)(4), is not other residential property, and is not agricultural land.


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(f) This subsection applies to property taxes first due and payable in 2012 and thereafter. The
General Assembly shall, by law, limit a taxpayer's property tax liability as follows:
(1) A taxpayer's property tax liability on tangible property described in subsection (c)(4) may
not exceed one percent (1%) of the gross assessed value of the property that is the basis for the
determination of property taxes.

(2) A taxpayer's property tax liability on other residential property may not exceed two
percent (2%) of the gross assessed value of the property that is the basis for the determination of
property taxes.
(3) A taxpayer's property tax liability on agricultural land may not exceed two percent (2%) of
the gross assessed value of the land that is the basis for the determination of property taxes.
(4) A taxpayer's property tax liability on other real property may not exceed three percent
(3%) of the gross assessed value of the property that is the basis for the determination of property
(5) A taxpayer's property tax liability on personal property (other than personal property that
is tangible property described in subsection (c)(4) or personal property that is other residential
property) within a particular taxing district may not exceed three percent (3%) of the gross
assessed value of the taxpayer's personal property that is the basis for the determination of
property taxes within the taxing district.
(g) This subsection applies to property taxes first due and payable in 2012 and thereafter.
Property taxes imposed after being approved by the voters in a referendum shall not be considered
for purposes of calculating the limits to property tax liability under subsection (f).
(h) As used in this subsection, "eligible county" means only a county for which the General
Assembly determines in 2008 that limits to property tax liability as described in subsection (f) are
expected to reduce in 2010 the aggregate property tax revenue that would otherwise be collected by
all units of local government and school corporations in the county by at least twenty percent
(20%). The General Assembly may, by law, provide that property taxes imposed in an eligible
county to pay debt service or make lease payments for bonds or leases issued or entered into before
July 1, 2008, shall not be considered for purposes of calculating the limits to property tax liability
under subsection (f). Such a law may not apply after December 31, 2019.


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Sorry, but the charts and tables didn't transfer to the text file.


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Some Observations about the November 2010 Tax Cap Constitutional Referendum

 The amendment will not provide additional property tax relief, since the provisions of the
amendment are already in law, and are already restricting property tax bills.

o The amendment will prevent Constitutional challenges to the differential caps
(1% / 2% / 3% for different property types) based on the “uniform and equal rate
of property assessment and taxation” phrase in Article 10, Section 1.

o It will prevent future adjustments in property tax relief from raising property tax
bills above the caps (e.g., a reduction in the homestead deductions can only raise
homeowners taxes to 1% of gross assessed value).

 The amendment will make permanent the reduction in property tax revenues received by
local governments. Here are three possible consequences:

o Local governments will need to become more efficient, in order to deliver
services at lower cost.
 Voters who think that government can/should become more efficient, and
think that revenue reductions will force efficiencies, will vote yes; those
who think that few efficiencies are available, or don’t like the means used
to attain efficiencies (e.g. layoffs, consolidation) will vote no.

o Indiana residents will have to accept a lower level of services, if there is not
enough revenue to continue to deliver the services provided in the past.
 Voters who think that Indiana local government is too big, and provides
services that are not demanded by residents, will vote yes; those who
value the services that are likely to be cut, or think more should be
provided, will vote no.

o Other revenue sources may be used, such as local income taxes and charges/fees.
 Voters who dislike property taxes and favor other sources of revenue to
support local government, will vote yes; those who prefer property taxes
as a means to support local government will vote no.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Update for March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009 update regarding legislation relevant to Indiana’s Public Libraries

This is a long overdue update (there is a logical reason for no posts to this blog) about what has been happening in “Library Land” regarding current issues before the Indiana Senate and House. Regardless of recent happenings, the worst thing we can do is to let down our guard. Kernan-Shepard will not go away and I can't emphasize enough that it must be dealt with. Additional thanks should go to Senator Gard for her support!

In July 2008 I attended a joint meeting of Librarians representing large, medium and small Public Libraries in Indiana and officials from the Indiana State Library. The reason for this meeting was to come up with options and alternatives to the Kernan-Sheppard report (link: which, in short, would have consolidated all of Indiana’s Public Libraries into 92 consolidated units. The Kernan-Shepard report proposed too much of a cookie cutter approach to local government and took control of public libraries away from their representative communities. Voiced, but never in print, was the possibility of privatizing Indiana’s Public Libraries much like the Indiana Toll Road.

The Coalition, with much valued assistance from the Indiana State Library, assisted in the hiring of Wooden and Associates from Lexington, Kentucky to assist in the creation of alternatives to strict public library consolidation. With the assistance of the Consultants, the Coalition came up with five different governance models. It was intended that each county would form its own library planning committee and would utilize the model which most benefitted that county.

The final product of the Coalition was presented to Indiana Librarians at the Indiana Library Federation Conference in Indianapolis, in November and was then formally presented to the Legislative Committee of the Indiana Library Federation. After the Legislative Committee approved the actions proposed it was taken by Senator Beverly Guard (R, 28) and presented to the Indiana Senate as Senate Bill 348.

During its voyage through the Senate the bill underwent some changes much to the chagrin of some in the Public Library community. Eventually there were additional amendments to the bill that would allow libraries to opt out of any plans that would involve consolidation. The bill passed the senate and was then introduced into the Indiana House.

When in Committee in the House, Bill 348 was integrated with Senate Bill 452 which dealt with additional recommendations from the Kernan-Shepard report. During committee action it was agreed that the amendments be taken together and then put into a single bill. When it came time for the bill to exit out of committee it failed.

As of today (March 11, 2009) there will be no local government reform as far as it concerns public libraries. The initial library bill can be picked-up and integrated into a different bill, but strict rules apply.


Amidst the legislative session, the members of the Coalition overwhelmingly agreed to combine forces with the already established Public Library Association of the Indiana Library Federation. Since the initial goal of the Coalition has been met, there was no further reason for its existence. Instead of abandoning all that had been worked for and learned merging under the PLA umbrella made the most sense.

The Coalition will work under PLA and resume work as necessary utilizing everything that has been put together to date and may propose additional legislation in the fall of 2009. Not dealing with the way in which Indiana’s Public Libraries are governed is not going to be the best way of dealing with the overall property tax situation. Even though we are part of a larger problem, it is still our problem and Indiana Librarians will see to it that reasonable legislation is put forth. Kernan-Shepard is here and can be effectively dealt with, but not by tearing apart small communities by consolidating their Public Libraries.


A though provoking and truthful article appears in the March 1, 2008 issue of Library Journal regarding public libraries and consolidation. The article is on page 8. Link:


The Indiana Township Association has a substantive study regarding government consolidation in Indiana. It may be found at:


Relevant articles concerning this issue.

These articles will only be available for a short time, generally seven days. After that time the articles are archived.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indiana Public Libraries: serving the unserved


It probably comes as a surprise to many people outside of Indiana’s library community that a significant number of Hoosiers do not reside in an area served by a public library, nor do they pay a local tax for public library service. Annual report data collected by the Indiana State Library from 2006 estimates approximately 395,000 Hoosiers in 38 counties are unserved by a public library.

The report, “Streamlining Local Government” issued by Governor Daniels’ Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform in 2007 acknowledges the problem of unserved citizens and Recommendation #18 of the report proposes to: “Reorganize library systems by county and provide permanent library service for all citizens.”

The report, and some members of the library community have attempted to merge these two issues of library consolidation and unserved areas together when they are two distinctly separate issues. Consolidating existing library districts together will not automatically extend service to unserved areas, and other methods of attaining the objective should be examined if all Hoosiers are to be provided with library service.

Presently, areas not served by a library can voluntarily provide service to their unserved area via three different methods. First, an area, whether it be a city, town, township, or even an area as large as a county can decide to levy a tax and establish their own public library district.

It is important to note however, that until relatively recently, population size was not an obstacle to establishing a new library. Even though Indiana has a long history of developing their public libraries from the bottom up, representatives of larger library districts successfully lobbied the General Assembly to prohibit the creation of new libraries which would serve populations of less than 10,000. The rationale was that instead of creating smaller districts, areas wanting library service would be required to join larger existing library districts, bringing additional assessed valuation and presumably, additional wealth to the larger district.

It is recommended that the Indiana General Assembly revisit the issue of minimum library size and eliminate the restriction so that Hoosiers could return to the practice of building up their public libraries in our small cities and towns, and not from the top down where all we may have are large, inefficient consolidated systems in urban locations that are difficult for large portions of our citizens to visit.

As the Commission’s report noted, three-fifths (136) of all Indiana’s existing library districts serve less than 10,000 library patrons. Also, as the report noted, Indiana’s public libraries ranked second in the nation in 2004 in the overall assessment of library performance measures such as services, collections, revenues, and expenditures. The obvious conclusion must be that Indiana’s existing libraries are “right sized” for their populations and the continued development of small libraries should be encouraged, and not sacrificed to the unsubstantiated notion that bigger libraries are necessarily more efficient or better than smaller libraries.

The second manner through which library service may be extended to an unserved area is through a contractual arrangement. These contractual arrangements are negotiated between an elected board in the unserved area and a neighboring existing library district for level of service to be provided and the annual cost. A contractual arrangement does not require an entirely new district to be formed with a separate governing body or central administration. Service may range from simple access to facilities and materials, to bookmobile stops, to the operation of one or more service outlets in the area under contract.

A great advantage to this option is that the elected body in the unserved area can “shop around” between districts in area for the best bargain for their taxpayers. Contractual districts do not need to have abutting boundaries, nor do they need to even be in the same county so the contracting body has great flexibility to keep expenditures down. Contracts may also be renegotiated before a decision is made to renew, allowing the contracting area the opportunity to continue to seek the best service for the dollar they can find for their patrons.

The third manner by which library service can be extended to an unserved area is for the officials in the area to agree to simply join an existing district and be taxed the same as the citizens in the existing library. The citizens of the joining area would have the same borrowing rights and privileges as those citizens in the existing district, but there are no guarantees that once they join a district, the existing district might build or operate service outlets (branch libraries) in the newly expanded area.

These voluntary methods have been successful in some areas, but the desire for all Hoosiers to voluntarily tax themselves for library service is not universal so Indiana does not have complete library service. It is offered that the only way by which Indiana can have universal library service is through a state mandate, much like the mandate that every community be taxed to provide public education. Public libraries, like public schools, should be considered to be fundamental educational institutions and every Hoosier of any age should have access to the resources and services of a public library facility, conveniently located and ready to fulfill his or her informational needs. It is also vital to Indiana’s economy and the quality of life for its citizens for libraries to provide access to new information and communication technology.

Once it is accepted that the only practical way to provide universal library service is through mandate, a date for the commencement of service should be selected and legislated. In order to make the imposition of the mandate more palatable to taxpayers, the General Assembly should consider preserving the essence of the selection of voluntary options citizens now have about how library service may be extended into their area.

Consolidation of existing library districts by county, as noted earlier, has been mentioned by some to be a solution to the problem. Admittedly, consolidating all existing districts, coupled with mandating universal library service would solve the problem of unserved areas, but it is very likely the most expensive option for Hoosier taxpayers and the most distasteful option for many of the residents of the smaller existing districts. Not only would the new taxpayers of the previously unserved areas be likely to pay a higher tax rate than under other options, but all of the citizens of the consolidated district might also be likely to pay one of the statistically higher tax rates levied by larger libraries. The smaller libraries would also lose their independence and the great amount of local accountability they have in their communities.

According to Sam Staley, an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a study conducted by the Review in 2005 reported, ninety percent of the expert researchers who studied local government consolidation concluded that consolidation would not reduce taxes and that consolidation makes it more difficult to obtain government services. He notes in an article entitled, “Local Government Consolidation: Why the Savings are Sometimes Disappointing,” that “economies of scale work in reverse in government.” Larger government tends to produce more bureaucracy, regulation, and overhead.

Indiana libraries have certainly seen this to be true in the case of the Indiana State Library. After the transfer of $600,000 from being distributed directly to public libraries and the transfer of the appropriation for the Indiana Cooperative Library Services Authority to the state library, the state library created many new staff positions, approved extensive new rules for the certification of library employees, and began enforcing standards for public libraries that had long been ignored.

If universal library service is selected to be mandated, it is recommended legislation be carefully crafted to preserve the options of the citizens of unserved areas to create new library districts tailored to meet the needs of their community, negotiate a contractual arrangement with a neighbor, or join an established library district of their choosing. This might even be done without regard for county boundaries if a cross-county configuration is determined to be the most efficient and economical model available. Competition such as this develops efficiency and all Hoosiers are deserving of efficient public library service of high quality.

Phil Baugher

Indiana Libraries: fact sheet

Indiana Libraries: A Proud Tradition of Local Service
Indiana residents are served by 238 independent town, city, township, and county library systems.
Libraries in these communities were established by local residents and stand as proud reflections of their unique histories and of the choices their library boards have made in regard to the programs, services, and collections that are needed and preferred by their communities.

What Is the Library Policy of the State of Indiana?
The state shall encourage the establishment, maintenance, and development of public libraries throughout Indiana as part of its provision for public education. Public libraries provide free library service for all individuals in order to meet the educational, informational, and recreational interests and needs of the public. These library services include collecting and organizing books and other library materials and providing reference, loan, and related services to library patrons. These library services are provided by public libraries supported by public funds. (Indiana Code 36-12-1-8)

How are Indiana Public Libraries Governed?
Seven community residents, appointed by the elected members of the local school board and the elected representatives of local governmental units, serve without pay as library trustees for each library district. Appointing authorities provide public oversight for the library board and the library and they can recall an appointee if his or her service is deemed unacceptable. Library trustees set policy for their local libraries, provide administrative oversight, and serve as contacts for local citizens’ concerns and suggestions in regard to the services, programs, and collections of their libraries.

How are Indiana Libraries Funded?
Indiana public libraries are independent taxing authorities, each with the ability to levy a portion of the local property tax to fund the library. Library taxes are not layered, taxpayers pay only one library tax to a single library district no matter however many library districts might be in a county. Library tax levies (property tax collections) have been controlled by the state since 1973, allowing only small increases each year. New controls approved in 2008 will further, greatly limit property tax collections in Indiana. Indiana’s public libraries account for only 3.33% of all property taxes collected per year. Public library budgets must be approved by the Department of Local Government Finance and audited by the State Board of Accounts.

Public libraries do not have access to all of the funding sources available to other local units of government. Libraries do not usually benefit from gambling revenues, funds generated by the lease of the toll road, and the Community Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT). Cities, towns and counties may also capture revenue from new developments for their own purposes at the expense of schools and public libraries through the establishment of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts.

Nationally, libraries are a great American bargain. “More than three-quarters of library users believe libraries spend tax dollars well. Even among non-users, 6 in 10 say they believe libraries use their funds wisely.” (source: Americans for Libraries Council)

What Library Services Do Indiana Libraries Provide?

The Indiana State Library reported the following statistics for 2006:
Total population of Indiana 6,080,485
Residents taxed for library service 5,690,040
Number of independent Indiana library systems 238
Individual and family resident registered borrowers 3,773,171
Individual & family borrowers as % of total pop. taxed for libraries 62.06%
Annual library visits by Indiana residents 37,371,757
Total state circulation of library materials 72,897,834
Circulation per capita 12.81
Annual reference transactions 5,463,901
Number of public libraries with Internet access 235
Number of public computers connected to Internet 6,311
Indiana users of public library internet terminals 8,564,650
Number of children’s library programs 65,834
Attendance at children’s programs 1,650,685
Number of adult and children’s library programs 107,450
Attendance at all adult and children’s library programs 2,537,951
Number of libraries that agree to participate in free reciprocal borrowing 155

Statistics are not the whole story. Because each library system is governed by an appointed board of seven local residents, individual libraries are able to respond to the needs and preferences of their communities with a wide variety of unique and special services, programs and collections. Examples are libraries that house an adult learning center, that schedule evening story hours for working parents of young children, that provide homebound delivery for those who are not able to come to the library, that operate local history museums and genealogical departments, and that provide public meeting rooms and kitchens.

How Do Indiana Libraries Rank Nationally?*

Library visits per capita: Indiana ranks 2nd in the United States
Circulation per capita: Indiana ranks 4th “
Reference transactions per capita: Indiana ranks 8th “
Computer terminals per 5,000 pop Indiana ranks 7th “
Audio materials per 1,000 pop. Indiana ranks 2nd “
Video/DVD materials per capita Indiana ranks 3rd “
Books and magazines per capita Indiana ranks 12th “
ALA-MLS librarians per 25,000 pop. ** Indiana ranks 8th “
Operating expenses per capita Indiana ranks 5th “
Number of public libraries Indiana ranks 14th “
Number of public libraries per capita Indiana ranks 22nd “
Collection expenditures per capita Indiana ranks 3rd “

*Statistics from the 2007 edition of The Bowker Annual Library and Book Trade Almanac and from the National Council on Educational Statistics

**American Library Association approved Masters Degree in Library Science

Indiana Libraries, small vs. large -- bigger isn't necessarily better -- it's just different

A study of the 2006 statistics of Indiana’s 239* public libraries illustrate that when the largest public libraries are compared to the smallest, there is no evidence that larger libraries are more efficient than smaller or that they are a much better bargain for taxpayers.

1. The tax rates for larger libraries are slightly greater than for the smaller – The average tax rate for the larger 117 libraries that collect property taxes is $.1066 per $100 of assessed valuation and the average tax rate for the smaller 117 libraries is $.1050. The slightly higher rate for larger libraries appears to refute the assumption that there would automatically be savings if smaller libraries were consolidated into larger units of service.

2. The average operating expenditures per person for the larger libraries and the smaller libraries are very nearly the same - The average operating expenditure for larger libraries is $47.59 per capita and the average operating expenditure for smaller libraries is $47.44 per capita. The difference is less than 1%.

3. Larger libraries spend slightly more on library staff than smaller libraries – Larger libraries spend an average $28.90 per capita for personnel services representing an average 62% of their total operating budgets. Smaller libraries spend an average $26.74 per capita for personnel representing 56% of their total operating budget. Larger library average personnel expenditures are 8% greater than for smaller libraries.

4. Smaller libraries spend slightly more on books and other materials than larger libraries – Smaller libraries spend an average $6.86 per capita for books and other library materials representing an average 15% of their total operating budget. Larger libraries spend an average $6.15 per capita for library materials representing 13% of their total operating budget. Smaller library average material expenditures are 12% greater than for larger libraries.

5. Many more larger libraries have bonded indebtedness than smaller libraries – 65% (75 of 119) of larger libraries have a tax levy for a bond and interest redemption fund compared to 32% (38 of 119) of the smaller libraries.

6. Many more larger libraries collect extra tax levies for capital projects than smaller libraries – 51% (60 of 119) of larger libraries have a tax levy for a library capital projects fund compared to 24% (28 of 119) of the smaller libraries.

Methodology - There are 239 library districts in the State of Indiana. The Joyce Public Library, Tyson Library Association, and the Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library do not collect a property tax levy to fund their operations so their tax rates are excluded from this study. The Willard Library and the Evansville –Vanderburgh Public Library share the tax collections in the library district so their taxing totals are combined and factored as a single library. Larger libraries versus smaller libraries were ranked according to the population served. The division of 117 was made between the Winchester Community Library with a population of 8,879 and the Garrett Public Library of 8,834.

Indiana Public Library Consolidation Fact Sheet

Public Library Consolidation in Indiana
Fact Sheet

What is library consolidation?
Consolidation refers to the combining or merging of smaller independent libraries into a larger library system, such as a county library system. Last year, a commission appointed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels recommended that all public libraries be reorganized by county even though extensive comments provided by the public overwhelmingly opposed any proposed library consolidation and the commission’s report provided no documented evidence that library consolidation would be economically beneficial. Statistically, Indiana’s larger public libraries cost proportionally more to operate than smaller libraries.

What are the dangers of library consolidation?
If an independent library is merged with a larger library system, the residents of the independent library district would lose all local control over their library. Their library board, composed of trustees appointed by school boards and other local elected bodies, would be dissolved and the library system would cease to exist. The larger library system would then make all decisions about the budget, staffing, facilities, programs, collections and services for the residents of the previously independent library district. Cuts would be likely in all areas at the local level as the larger library board would seek ways to maintain their large, centralized facilities.

Are there any benefits to library consolidation?
Many proponents of library consolidation frequently cite the number of citizens in Indiana who live in areas not served by public libraries. Consolidation and unserved areas are two distinctly separate issues. Unserved citizens are not taxed for library service and the consolidation of existing libraries will not automatically provide them with service. Currently these citizens can voluntarily consent to be taxed for a library and establish a new library district, contract for service with an existing library district, or voluntarily join an existing library. If Indiana wants universal library service, it will probably have to be imposed by state mandate.

Proponents of consolidation also like to cite that larger libraries would generate “economies of scale” and lead to less cost. A recent study by the Indiana Policy Review noted that 90% of expert researchers familiar with the effects of consolidation in the past do not believe consolidation would lead to reduced taxes. In fact, the survey reports consolidation would most likely increase expenditures while reducing citizens’ access to services.

In some cases, the residents of a very small library system might benefit from consolidating with a larger system having greater resources, but this might come at the cost of losing their own local library building, requiring them to travel a much further distance to visit a library. This could be a quite a hardship some for the patrons who need library service the most such as seniors and the very young. Library boards should continue to have the right to voluntarily merge if they feel it is best for their residents, but consolidation should not be mandated by the state.

Aren’t public libraries responsible for the recent large increases in Indiana property taxes?

No! , Indiana libraries account for only 3.33% of all property taxes collected in Indiana. (source: the Blue Ribbon Commission on Local Government Reform: http://indianalocalgovreform.iu.ed ).

Second, the recent 24% increase in property taxes for Indiana homeowners is due to the elimination of the inventory tax on businesses (+4%), the cap on state tax relief (+4%), trending and changes to fair market assessing (+ 10%) , and is only partially due to increases in local government tax collections (+6%). (source: July 23, 2007, “Indiana Property Taxes: How We Got Here,” a report by Larry DeBoer,Ph.D., Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, to the Indiana Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy)

Third, public library tax levies (property tax collections) have been controlled in some manner by the state since 1973, allowing only small increases each year. Legislation approved last year will greatly limit property tax collections far into the future and many library budgets will be slashed due to the new “circuit breaker” legislation. Other new controls will greatly limit the ability of libraries to bond for new buildings or to take advantage of alternate sources of income without reducing property taxes.

Fourth, the public library world has drastically changed over the past decades, necessitating new expenditures for computer automation, public Internet service, and for the purchase of many new types of informational resources (DVDs, CDs, CD ROMs, subscriptions to online databases, etc.). Growing populations in some areas have also required the construction of new buildings and the remodeling of older buildings, often requiring more staff and public demands for a wider range of library services.

Fifth, public libraries do not have access to all of the various revenue sources available to other local governmental units such as schools, cities, towns, and counties. A county economic development income tax, etc. (CEDIT), county optional income tax (COIT) and a county adjusted gross income tax (CAGIT) do not benefit public libraries. Tax increment financing districts capture new assessment values and the revenue stream they produce for the benefit of other taxing units.

Schools receive the majority of their funding from the state. Libraries receive no direct funding from the state. The public library state distribution ($600,000 for all Indiana libraries in 2006), was eliminated last year when the governor transferred those funds to the state library instead.

Are there many libraries in Indiana that could be affected by this change or are most of them part of larger library systems?
There are 239 independent library systems serving Indiana towns, cities, townships and counties. Most Indiana libraries are either small or mid-size libraries with only 10 libraries serving populations of over 100,000. Libraries in these communities were established by local residents and stand as proud reflections of their community’s history. The choices their library boards have made in programming, services, and material collections reflect the needs and desires of each unique community having a library.

What can I do to stop mandatory consolidation of Indiana’s Libraries?
Educate yourself about the issue and contact your local legislators to urge them to oppose library consolidation. Tell them the personal stories about how having a local, independent library have improved your life and your community.