Idaho Library Districting Handbook

ICfL considers the creation and enlargement of library districts to be the cornerstone of public library development in Idaho.

ICfL considers the creation and enlargement of library districts to be the cornerstone of public library development in Idaho.

Why are library districts so important?


Because of these issues, the Idaho Commission for Libraries maintains that the ideal governance structure for Idaho libraries is autonomous library taxing districts having a population-financial base to provide excellent local service and participating as responsible members of the state’s resource-sharing network.


Clay Ritter

Clay Ritter

Public Library Consultant
Email / 208-639-4177
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The Tasks of the Assessment Stage

There are nine tasks that need to be completed during the Assessment Phase of a library districting process.

  • Task Number One is to determine whether there is a perceived need for a library district through informal conversations with members of the community.

  • Task Number Two is to form an exploratory group of supporters to plan and carry out the Assessment Phase.

  • Task Number Three is to create a written vision statement of what a library district could provide.

  • Task Number Four is to assess potential costs for the district.

  • Task Number Five is to make formal presentations about library districting to community organizations.

  • Task Number Six is to identify and contact potential supporters of a library districting effort.

  • Task Number Seven is to identify potential opponents of a library district.

  • Task Number Eight is to task a formal committee with pursuing the library districting process.

  • Task Number Nine is to make preliminary decisions about what geographical area will be covered by the library district, and about how the district will relate to any existing public library entities within or near this area.

The Tasks of the Planning Phase

The Planning Phase is a time of preparation.  During this phase, you will not only decide what your library district will look like, but you will gather information that will allow the district to be created in a smooth and orderly way.  Some of this information will be used only after the district has been created or expanded, but knowing what needs to be done and having plans in advance will make the hectic first few months of a new district’s life much easier for everyone involved.  The working group’s efforts in the Planning Phase, in other words, will culminate in the official actions of the new district’s library board during the first few weeks after the successful election.

As with the Assessment Phase, a number of tasks need to be accomplished during the Planning Phase.  Work on these various tasks may be carried on at the same time, and the tasks may be completed in a different order than we have presented.  However, in all districting projects, the working group needs to work through the following tasks:

  • First, the working group must ‘plan to plan’.  In other words, they must decide how they will do the planning necessary to create and operate a new district.

  • Second, the working group must plan how it will carry out public relations to build support for the districting effort.

  • Third, the working group will need to coordinate its efforts with local government officials who will have responsibilities in creating the new district.

  • Fourth, the working group must plan the library services that will be offered by the new or enlarged district.

  • Fifth, the working group will need to begin planning for the administrative structure (board structure and bylaws, operational policies, etc.) of the new district.

  • Sixth, the working group will need to recommend personnel policies for the new district.

  • Seventh, the working group will need to plan for library facilities for the new district.

  • Eighth, the working group will need to make an accurate estimate of first-year and long-range costs for the new district, and in particular how the district will handle the cost of its first year of operations.

  • Ninth, the working group will need to make final decisions about the geographic area that will be included in the new district.

  • Tenth, the group will need to go through the legal steps to create the district.  These activities will be discussed in the next chapter.