If your community considers a combined school and public library, be aware that:
- There are significant obstacles inherent in combining libraries, as evidenced by the fact that only a handful of such libraries exist in Iowa and the surrounding states.
- While operating joint libraries is often seen as a way for cities and school districts to save money, per capita expenditures have actually increased in the last five Iowa communities where school and public libraries combined.
- Based upon data collected by Iowa Library Services, combined libraries are much less likely to meet public library accreditation standards to qualify for Direct State Aid.
Although there are a few combined libraries in Iowa, nearly every community planning for a new library building at least briefly considers the feasibility of a combined school and public library facility. Such libraries are typically housed in a single facility and, ideally, they should provide both the curriculum support functions of the school library and the service functions of the public library for the community.
To assist Iowa communities in making informed decisions on whether to combine school and public library services, Iowa Library Services published Is a Combined School / Public Library Right for Your Community? (2006). It provides decision-makers with a means of assessing the feasibility of establishing a combined library and, if the decision is made to proceed, with a Planning Guide that addresses the many areas of library operations that need to be considered if the combined library is to be successful. The publication is on Iowa Library Services’ website.