REGIONAL LIBRARY SYSTEMS - ELIGIBILITY TO PETITION FOR EXCLUSION. Letter, June 4, 1971, to Mr Denny Stephens, Secretary, Kansas State Library Advisory Commission.

Question: Does a unified school district which, together with a municipal corporation, supports a library used jointly as a school district and city library constitute a "taxing district which [contributes] . . . support of a public library" (emphasis added] which is eligible under K.S.A. 75-2550 to petition for exclusion from a regional system on cooperating libraries.

Answer: No.

In 1969, Unified School District No. 350 (hereinafter "District") Stafford County, Kansas, became a participating member of the South Central Kansas Library System.

Thereafter, the District entered into an interlocal agreement, pursuant to K.S.A. § 12-2903 and 2904, with the Library Board on the City of St. John, Kansas, "for the establishment, building, erecting and equipping of a library by Unified School District No. 350 . . . to be used jointly by said School District and the City of St. John, Kansas, as a school district and public library . . ." This agreement was prompted by an offer from one Ida Long Goodman, in October, 1967, of a substantial sum of money for such a purpose, conditioned upon the execution of an interlocal agreement as described.

The District now petitions the State Library Advisory Commission, pursuant to K.S.A. 75-2550, requesting exclusion from the regional system. That statute provides in pertinent part as follows:

"Any taxing district which regularly levies one-fourth mill or more of tax for the support of a public library, and which taxing district has been included in a regional system, may petition to be excluded from the regional system."
At the time of its exclusion petition, the District had contributed to the support of this joint school district-city library for only one year. K.S.A. 75-2550, as excerpted above, requires regular support, which requirement has been "support of said public library for a period of not less than two years." The copy of the 1970-1971 budget of the district, attached to the exclusion petition, indicates that for that year, the District has budgeting $24,020.00 for the General Fund, designated for the "City-School Library - Interlocal". This sum exceeds the yield from a levy of one-fourth mill. Anticipating further consideration of the exclusion petition after a second year has passed, the Commission requests an opinion whether the District is eligible to petition for exclusion.

The stated purpose of the Regional Library Act is:
"for the state in cooperation with local libraries to provide adequate library services to all citizens of the state through the regional systems of cooperating libraries herein provided, by use of joint planning and financing of library services to improve existing service . . . and to extend library service to persons not having the same at this time."
The Act contemplates inclusion of school libraries in regional systems, for under K.S.A. 75-2548, the term "library" is defined to include school, community junior college, college or university libraries to the extent authorized by rules and regulations of the state commission, but does not include law libraries. K.A.R. 54-1-19 provides that the "governing body of any school district . . . desiring to participate in a regional system of cooperating libraries" may do so.

However, a school district has no authority to support a public library unrelated to the needs and requirement of its educational responsibilities, except as otherwise provided by statute. E.g., 72-1623 expressly authorizes the school board of a city having a population between 120,000 and 200,000 to establish and maintain a public library and branches thereof out of expenditures from the general fund in like manner as school expenditures. Absent like statutory authority, and there is none in this instance, the board has no power to devote general of other funds for the maintenance and support of a "public library" within the meaning of K.S.A. 75-2550. Where the library of a school district is included withing a regional system, the contributions of the district to the support of that library must be attributed only to the support of the facility insofar as it is devoted to the educational program of the district, and not to the maintenance of the library insofar as it serves the general public.

Accordingly, it is our opinion that Unified School District No. 350 is not a "taxing district which [contributed] . . . support of a public library" within the meaning of K.S.A. 75-2550 which is eligible to petition for exclusion from a regional system of cooperating libraries.

- Quoted from Kansas Public Library Laws, Attorney General’s Opinions and Rules and Regulations, State Library of Kansas, March 1979.


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