Introduction to Wider Units for Libraries

What form of public library organization delivers the best library service?  For many years, library leaders have told us that “wider units of service” will produce better library services.  Hennen Library Consulting continually examines the issues, using national data.  Although far more study is needed, the national data suggest that, in most cases, wider units of library service are, indeed, wiser.  We cannot compare how well a library may have fared had its planners chosen a different road in the past.  We can only compare the results for the roads taken by other libraries in different areas of the country, hoping that the comparisons will help library planners choose wisely in the future.  Much professional debate has been sparked since the article “Are Wider Units Wiser?”  by Thomas J. Hennen Jr. appeared in the June/July 2002 issue of American Libraries, the official publication of the American Library Association.  Our home state of Wisconsin does not currently have a district library law although a draft (Public Library District Enabling Legislation in Wisconsin)was considered for introduction during the 2004 session of the legislature.  Tom Hennen’s Joint Library Issues for Wisconsin Libraries may be helpful to some planners, but bear in mind that Wisconsin does not have a district law but rather a joint powers law.


Our Governance Options Studies

  1. Making BookGambling on the future of our libraries. (Metro Kansas City)
  2. Libraries Together:  Scott County Iowa
  3. WCCLS Funding & GovernanceWashington County Cooperative Library Service (Oregon)
  4. Racine County Governance 2004  Hennen Library Consulting study
  5. Greenfield_Greendale_District  Hennen Library Consulting Study
  6. Pewaukee LRP 2003-05: Tom Hennen’s report on the successful merger of 2 municipalities into a single joint library district in Wisconsin while he was Director of Waukesha County Federated Library System.

See also:

  1. District Legislation:  Definitions of districts, model district laws, state specific legislation, planning checklist, and related academic research.
  2. Outline of District or Joint Library: from Hennen’s Public Library Planner
  3. Invited Testimony on Libraries to Wisconsin Legislative Study Committee:  Tom Hennen’s testimony on library issues to Wisconsin Legislature.
  4. Is There a Library Consolidation in Your Future:  Link to text of Tom Hennen’s American Libraries magazine article on consolidation.