State Funding Sources

There are two state funding sources for Montana's public libraries: the Information Access Montana Act and the Coal Severance Tax. To receive this funding, public libraries must meet the essential standards as described in the Public Library Standards.

I. Information Access Montana Act

State aid to public libraries is provided through the Information Access Montana Act (IAMA) passed by the Montana Legislature in 1989. The act is designed to broaden access to existing information by strengthening public libraries, augment and extend services provided by public libraries, and permit new types of library services based on local need. IAMA is administered by the Montana State Library Commission.

IAMA funds may not take the place of general operating funds. The law allows the Commission to withhold these funds when there is a reasonable link between the reduction in local funding and the receipt or expectation of IAMA funds. In such cases, the reduced funding from a mill levy or local government appropriation must be less than the average amount the library had received from these sources for the preceding three fiscal years.

IAMA stipulates four types of state aid:

Per capita and per square mile.

This aid is based on a population distribution formula (See MCA 22-1-327 or ARM 10.102.4003). The amount of money received by individual libraries can change as the population distribution changes. When Montana's population increases, the funds per person are less. These funds are distributed annually, and the local libraries receive the money by the end of September.

Statewide interlibrary resource-sharing program.

The commission shall establish a statewide interlibrary resource-sharing program (See MCA 22-1-328 and ARM 10.102.4001.) The purpose of the program is to administer funds appropriated by the legislature to support and facilitate resource-sharing among libraries in Montana, including but not limited to public libraries, public library districts, libraries operated by public schools or school districts, libraries operated by public colleges or universities, tribal libraries, libraries operated by public agencies for institutionalized persons, and libraries operated by nonprofit, private medical, educational, or research institutions.

Statewide Library Access Program.

This section (See MCA 22-1-329) authorizes the Commission to develop a voluntary statewide library access program whereby a participating library may allow access to the library's materials and services by patrons registered and in good standing with another library.

Base grants.

Each public library receives a base grant (See MCA 22-1-331 or ARM 10.102.5106) to support the cooperative activities and services of the six library federations in the state (see Federations for more information). The funds are sent to federation libraries by the end of September. The libraries may use the grants to fund projects that maintain or improve cooperative library services and activities within the federation or state.

II. Coal Severance Tax

In 1979, the Montana Legislature designated that a portion of the state severance tax (See MCA 15-35-108 or ARM 10.102.5102) on coal mining go to the library federations to help local libraries provide basic services. The federation libraries receive the annual funds by the end of September. Each federation submits an annual plan of service to the Commission for approval that details how the funds will be spent. Currently Coal Severance Tax funds are also used to fully fund statewide electronic resources that every public library can access and share with its patrons. (See Federations for more information.)

Libraries that receive state aid must comply with the public library standards. Please contact the Montana State Library for assistance with complying with the public library standards.