Did you know that it is against the law for public libraries to charge fees for their programs?

With the popularity of technology, Pinterest, DIY, and HGTV’s home improvement shows, community interest in library programs on crafting, homemaking and handmade goods is booming. Unfortunately, supplies for these programs can be costly, and the idea of passing the cost onto willing attendees may seem like a reasonable thing to do. However, this practice conflicts with language in Chapter 43.52 (2) of Wisconsin State Statute which reads:

“Every public library shall be free for the use of the inhabitants of the municipality by which it is established and maintained…”

How can library program costs be covered?

  • The library assumes program costs with funds from its program budget
  • Donations from community members to cover partial or all program costs.
  • Co-sponsorship or full sponsorship of a program by a community organization (Lions, Kiwanis, etc.).
  • Donations from library program attendees via a donation jar without solicitation.
  • Financial support from Library Friends and/or Foundation.
  • Or a combination of approaches.

What about ticketed library events?
Fundraising events differ greatly from library programs in that they are infrequent and are often organized by the library’s Friends group or Foundation. As distinctly separate, autonomous bodies, library Friends and foundations can raise funds and accept monetary donations. If these groups do not exist, fundraisers should collect “at will” donations rather than solicited donations from library marketing and staff.

Questions? Please call or email Marla Sepnafski at 715-261-7251 or msepnafski@wvls.org.