Library Districts in Texas
Library districts in Texas may be created by the vote of community residents in areas without a municipal public library under provisions of Local Government Code 326 (SB 1674, 1997).
Library districts operate within defined geographical boundaries and are supported by a percentage of local sales and use tax. They are stand-alone governmental entities, political subdivisions of the state, and special purpose districts.
Library districts are governed by a five-member unpaid elected Board of Trustees who serve two-year staggered terms. Elections are called once a year, but they may be cancelled if candidates are unopposed. Most library districts have paid staff to run their libraries and a Director who oversees all aspects of operation.
Library districts are subject to the Open Meetings Act, the Public Information Act, the Public Funds Investment Act, and various other laws pertaining to ethics, elections, purchasing, and employment.
Westbank Community Library District, created in 1998, was the first library district in Texas. There are currently 15. Library districts meet twice per year to share information and undertake trainings.
Local Government Code 326 governs the establishment of new library districts and outlines the steps, and Election Code governs the election processes and requirements. These notes were culled from the notes of early library district election efforts. Steps may be somewhat different now as decades have passed and some processes may have changed. An attorney is essential to help with legal documents and navigating the election process.
1. Identify a potential area of service
- Contiguous and within a single county – you will need a legal description of metes and bounds
- Not already receiving library service from a city (unless the city gives permission)
- Has sales tax available – total local sales tax must be ≤ 2%
- Use the Sales Tax Rate Locator to search for sales tax rates by address.
- Identify library patrons, voters, and sales tax revenue sources.
- Contact county judge, commissioners court, and the county commissioner whose precinct would include the library district.
- Identify five initial library trustees.
- Determine election costs and collect private funds. Local Government Code 326.024
3. Messaging (recommendations)
- Poll to determine what the issues are for voters in the area; look for messages that resonate.
- Train volunteers and signature gatherers.
- Gather official endorsements – school board, Chamber of Commerce, school booster clubs, civic organizations.
- Prepare handouts or bookmarks to give to prospective petition signers and voters.
- Distribute yard signs; try for article placements in local papers.
- Prepare petition in English and Spanish that meets provisions in Local Government Code 326.023 and Election Code 277.002.
- Run a petition drive – requires 5% of the number of voters in proposed area who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election.
- County Voter Registrar may help to validate the petitions, supply missing voter ID numbers.
5. Filing of petition, hearing, ordering of election Local Government Code 326.025
- Ask to get on the commissioners court agenda to file petition.
- Submit petition, Order of Election (LGC 326.026), payment, map; documents may require approvals (county attorney, SOS, DOJ – Voting Rights Act 1964).
- Notice of Election (SOS forms) is posted.
- Ballot wording – Local Government Code 326.028
- Canvass of election is completed by commissioners court. Local Government Code 326.029
- The ballot measure passes by majority vote.
- Initial trustees are determined by the ballot results. Local Government Code 326.030
8. Hold first organizational meetings
- Appoint officers. Local Government Code 326.045
- Determine regular meetings and meeting place.
- Adopt bylaws (sample bylaws from existing districts may serve as templates). LGC 326.047
- Apply for IRS EID; open bank account for tax revenue deposits from the Comptroller.
- Begin converting any prior assets to district assets.
9. Hire a qualified director as soon as feasible
- Local Government Code 326 Lots of information in the code
- Comptroller informational flyer regarding the formation of districts
- This is undated and may not include amendments to the code (1999, 2001), but provides a good overview.
- It includes information on the timing of elections.
- No multi-jurisdictional districts (Local Government Code 336) have been formed to date, and there is an Attorney General’s opinion (GA-0626) that suggests that the legislation is not legal as written.
- Article written for TLA about district creation Written shortly after the first three districts were formed, this outlines the general process. The stipulation mentioned in the article regarding counties with populations less than 100,000 was removed from the code by amendment in 1999.
ANNUAL ELECTIONS KEY DATES Counties and the Secretary of State will post a calendar (DBE = Days before election). Different counties’ dates may vary slightly. For planning purposes, you can calculate the dates yourself using Excel or a date calculator (use calendar days, not business days) before the calendars are published.
- Filing Period
- Notice of Deadline to File an Application for a Place on the Ballot – post by 138 DBE
- First day to file – 108 DBE
- Notify county of intent to contract ~ 96 DBE
- Last day to file – 78 DBE
- Last day to file Order of General Election – 78 DBE (Requires Board action)
- Submit candidate names to county – 78 DBE
- Mail notice of ballot drawing – 75 DBE
- Date of ballot drawing (recommended) ~ 70 DBE
- Submit ballot order ~ 63 DBE
- Complete jurisdictional boundary review ~ 63 DBE
- Ballot proofing ~ 56 DBE
- Post Notice of Election – 21 DBE
- Last day to Canvass the election – 13 DAE Only requires 2 Board members
- No election
- Last Day for candidate to withdraw – 70 DBE
- Post Certificate of Unopposed Candidate – 70 DBE prepared by Election Coordinator
- Post Order of Cancellation – 70 DBE (Requires Board action)
- Notify County of Cancellation – 70 DBE
- Fill vacancies outside of elections by appointment per Local Government Code 326.044 (the Board should adopt a procedure for this)
- Swear in Board members at next Board meeting after election; Board elects officers (per bylaws)
- Update election register – an internal document Election Code 67.006
SECRETARY OF STATE
- Candidate requirements – information should be continuously posted on website
- Election Calendar
- Election Forms for Political Subdivisions
- Conducting an Election
- Laws and Procedures for Local Elections
- Election training videos
CONTRACTING WITH A COUNTY FOR ELECTION SERVICES
- Contract – Requires Board approval; make a partial payment prior to the end of the filing period; can be canceled
- Cost – dependent on how many entities are holding elections at the same time, how many polling places are needed, and prorated on size of population served. Large counties with county-wide voting may need more polling places.
- Application only accepted during the 30 day filing window
- Verify candidate eligibility – resided within the Library District for at least 6 months, 18 years of age before the election, registered to vote
- Election Code 141.001 – other qualifications for holding public office
- Political Subdivision Candidacy – additional information SOS
TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION Campaign Finance Forms for Candidates
- Texas Ethics Commission Guide to A Local Filing Authority’s Duties Under the Campaign Finance Law – check for latest version
- Notice to Local Filing Authority – links to other forms
NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT Public libraries are voter registration agencies.
- Public libraries must offer voter registration applications to the public when applying for or renewing library services.
- All libraries must provide the same degree of assistance in completing voter registration paperwork as the library would provide for assistance with library related documentation. This includes, but is not limited to, bilingual assistance.
- They must also develop a plan for the implementation of all required voter registration procedures.
- NVRA plan – File by email to Elections@sos.texas.gov; update as needed
- Staff training
- Order Voter Registration cards
Open Records and Open Meeting trainings – required for all new Board members and Directors in their first 90 days.
- Trainings and Handbooks – Attorney General’s website
- Government Code 551 Open Meetings
- Government Code 552 Public Information
Official PIA Poster – displayed prominently and plainly visible to requestors and to governmental employees who receive and respond to public information requests (printable letter size version).
Government Code 552 Public Information
POST ON WEBSITE
- Agendas and minutes – Board meetings
- Public information (FOIA) request – instructions for requesting
- Board contact info – a library-maintained email address monitored by the Board President ensures records retention
- Candidate information – required by SOS
- RFQ and RFP – postings for library projects (also posted in newspapers)
- Policies regarding use of the library
- Special Purpose District Public Information Database – Comptroller
- Budget transparency – line items for public notice expenditures and lobbying
The records created, received, used, and maintained by a library district are essential to its efficient and effective functioning. They provide evidence of the district’s activities and provide documentation of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and transactions. They are designed to furnish information to protect the financial and legal rights of the district and any person affected by the activities of the district.
Districts should maintain their documents according to schedules that have been developed by TSLAC, and it is recommended that such documents be labeled according to the schedules. Additionally, all unnecessary records should be destroyed once they cease to be administratively valuable. An annual cleaning out of files may be practical.
- Choose how you will store documents in each department (digital or paper) and be consistent.
- Duplicate copies kept for convenience should be labeled DC, so employees know it can be discarded when no longer needed.
- You can label folders instead of individual files or documents.
- All staff should have folders in their email for files with retention restrictions. Policy discussions, for example, must be saved for a period as well as complaints from the public.
- Encourage staff to delete routine and transitory email as soon as it is dealt with.
Caution from TSLAC:
A state record whose retention period has expired may not be destroyed if any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, public information request, administrative review, or other action involving the record is initiated; its destruction shall not occur until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it.
A state record whose retention period expires during any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, public information request, administrative review, or other action involving the record may not be destroyed until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it.
Retention Schedules (TSLAC)
- Full schedule with explanatory information – includes a lot of schedules that do not apply to libraries; explains how to read the schedules
- Records common to all local governments – includes administrative, financial, personnel and payroll, support services, and electronic data processing
- Records of elections and voter registration
- Records of public works and other government services – see part 9 for libraries and museums
Records Retention Law Local Government Code
SALES TAX REVENUE
- Percentage (1/8% to 1/2%) – posted directly to a library account around the second Friday of the month.
- Sales Tax Allocation Payment Detail
- Allocation Historical Summary
- Comptroller Reports available to library districts
- Sales Tax Rate Locator to determine if an address is in the library district
BUDGETING Besides expenses common to other public libraries (collections, programs, staffing), library districts are responsible for their own HR, accounting, facilities and grounds maintenance, and technology infrastructure.
If possible, they save a percentage of revenues for future capital projects and set aside a reserve for unexpected expenditures or interruptions in funding. They must invest those funds in accordance with the Public Funds Investment Act and an Investment Policy. Their finances are audited annually.
PUBLIC FUNDS INVESTMENT – Government Code 2256
- 256.005 (a) and (b) Training requirements
- 2256.005 (d) Reporting requirements
- 2256.005 (f) Defines Investment Officer
- 2256.005 (n) Compliance audit
PFIA training – 10 hours every 2 years for designated Investment Officer
PURCHASING AND CONTRACTING
- State of Texas Procurement and Contract Management Guide
- State Purchasing Resources
- Applicable laws
- Local Government Code 271 – Purchasing and Contracting Authority of Municipalities, Counties, and Certain Other Local Governments
- Local Government Code 272 – Sale or Lease of Property
- Local Government Code 273 – Purchase of Property
- Local Government Code 280 – Gifts of Land
- Government Code 2269 – Contracting and Delivery Procedures for Construction Projects (easier to read version)
FINANCIAL PROCEDURES AND POLICIES
- Financial calendar – what’s due when (payroll, payroll forms, insurances, sales tax, government filings, audit)
- Processes and policies for inventory, banking, cash handling, investments, invoices, payroll, records retention, sales tax revenue, fraud prevention, grants, donations
- Texas Grants Resource Center
- TSLAC Grants and Funding
- Ladd & Katherine Hancher Library Foundation
- Tocker Library Grants
REMITTING SALES TAX
When libraries sell books, coffee, prepared foods, copies, T-shirts or similar, or delivery services, they are required to collect and remit sales tax.
- General information from the Comptroller
- Sales tax permit NAICS for libraries is 519120 (libraries and archives), and for Friends Groups it is usually 453310 (used merchandise sale)
- Sales tax rate breakdown – enter the library’s address (point of sale) on the Comptroller’s website
- Taxable items
- Remit to the Comptroller on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
- A one-day tax-free sale of up to 48 hours is allowed per year.
- Keep a record of gross receipts from taxable sales and sales tax.
- Occupations Code 2002 – up to 4 per year may be held by a 501(c)3 Friends of the Library group
- Limitations and FAQs (Attorney General)
Especially for Texas Employers Produced by the Texas Workforce Commission, this is THE go-to manual for almost all our employment questions. It covers both state and federal laws and best practices regarding hiring, policies and employee handbooks, unemployment claims, contractors, exempt v non-exempt, required documentation, FLSA, overtime, recordkeeping, harassment, pregnancy rights, work separation, and post-employment, and more. It includes sample policies and forms. READ THE WHOLE BOOK. Then read it again.
- Employment terms (Cornell Law School, Wex)
- Department of Labor (Unemployment, FMLA, FLSA, workplace posters, minimum wage)
- OSHA Workplace safety, training resources
- EEOC Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – discrimination cases
- JAN Job Accommodation Network – disability accommodations
- Texas Payday Law (TWC)
- Texas Required Posters (TWC printables)
- SHRM Society for Human Resources Management (paid membership for full access)
- Reporting wages for unemployment
- Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act Equal Employment
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Acts prohibits discrimination on the basis of age for people over 40
- Civil Rights Act 1991
- Family Leave and Medical Act (FLMA) applies to us, but if you have fewer than 50 employees, none are eligible
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers minimum wage, overtime, exempt status, record-keeping requirements
- Texas Commission on Human Rights Act covers sexual harassment and equal employment
- Texas Workers’ Compensation Act
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE 326 Library Districts
Amendments and additions to original code – 1999 HB 1618, HB 3211, SB 691 2001 HB 440, HB 995, SB 1125
- Steps to create a library district
- 5 Trustees
- Terms – 2 years, staggered
- Elect officers amongst themselves
- May hire a library director
- Must disclose conflicts of interest
- May charge fines and fees and ban for breaking established rules
- Invest tax revenues in accordance with PFIA
- May invest donations under a separate policy
- Have accounts audited in the first 120 days of each fiscal year
- Receive sales tax revenue of an allowable percentage
OTHER LEGISLATION TO KNOW
- Elimination of Architectural Barriers Act Government Code 469
- Texas Health and Safety Code Subchapter D, Section 341.069 (restroom access)
- Service animals law and FAQs
- Conflict of Interest Local Government Code Chapter 176 covers requirements for Trustees and any vendor seeking to do business with a library district.
- Cybersecurity Training Government Code 2054.5191, Certify compliance annually
- Elections Election Code; see Elections tab
- Employment See Employment tab.
- Public Funds Investment Local Government Code 2256; see Finances tab
- Open Meetings Government Code 551 See Open Government tab.
- Public Information Government Code 552 See Open Government tab.
- Purchasing or Procurement See Finances tab.
- Raffles Occupations Code 2002; see Finances tab
- Tax Code 321.102i This portion of the tax code directly references library district code.
- Transparency See Open Government tab.
- Texas Library Laws index
- General Interest topics include carrying weapons, criminal offenses, obscenity, liability, payment for goods and services, professional and consulting services
- Local Libraries includes library districts
- Texas Administrative Code Accreditation standards
- TSLAC Grants Government Code 221.009+
- Confidentiality of Library Records Government Code 552.124
- Voter Registration NVRA; See Elections tab.
TEXAS LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The Texas Legislature meets for the first 5 months in odd years. Library districts should watch the legislative process closely for
- changes in existing legislation that may affect them
- for new bills that could affect how they operate
- for bills that alter the text of Local Government Code 326 or Tax Code 321.102i
Recent legislative sessions have focused on transparency of special districts, sales tax collection changes, and library material content.
- Search bills for terms like: library, sales tax, (dis)annexation, local government, special (purpose) districts.
- Set up Bill Lists and Alerts for bills you are watching.
- Print a list of enrolled bills at end of session to review (most are easily dismissed as not relevant to library districts).
- Follow coverage by the Texas Library Association and the Texas Tribune.
- Understand how a bill becomes law.
- Be aware of the Legislative Calendar.
Note: Library districts may operate on different fiscal calendars and election calendars. This list is designed to serve as a reminder to district of recurring responsibilities. It is not comprehensive or immutable.
Board meeting – generally once a month (in accordance with bylaws), open to the public, posted agenda 72 hours in advance, may include financial reports, report on operations, statistics
Quarterly Investment Report – approved by Board
- Annual report – by March 31; apply for accreditation; TSLAC
- Debt and transparency report – by 180th day after fiscal year end; Comptroller
- Accounting audit – delivered to Board by 120th day after fiscal year end; LGC 326.069
- Investment Policy – review and approval; PFIA 2256.005e
- PFIA training – 10 hours every 2 years for designated Investment Officer
- Budget – Board approved before start of fiscal year
- Elections – See election tab. May be canceled if candidates are unopposed..
- Swear in Board members after election; Board elects officers (per bylaws)
- Update candidate information on website as soon as the election is over; Secretary of State
- Update election register – Election Code 67.006
- e-Rate filing – optional technology funding; USAC
- TexShare – statistics; TSLAC
- ILL – reimbursement; TSLAC
- Cybersecurity training – annually for staff and Board; Govt Code 2054.5191
- Use a certified training program or DIR training program
- Report completion; DIR
- Continuing Education – 10 hours for Director
- Strategic Plan – Board approved every 5 years
- National Voters Registration Act (NVRA) Implementation Plan – update if changed
- Legislative session – watch for changes in relevant laws (odd years); Texas Legislature Online
- Banking contracts – periodic review
- Labor posters – printable – must be kept up-to-date
- Records retention – files marked
- Library policies – review and update
- Insurance policies – evaluate
- Procedures and job descriptions – update
- Anti-harassment policy – review with staff; sign acknowledgment
- Safety trainings – emergencies, first aid, utility shut-off, incidents
- Emergency contact information – update
- Collection inventory
There are currently 15 library districts in Texas
- Benbrook Library District • Erica Richardson • 817-249-6632 • 1065 Mercedes St, Benbrook, TX 76126
- Blanco County North Library District (Johnson City Library) • Micaela McDonald • 830-868-4469 • 501 Nugent St, Johnson City, TX 78636
- Blanco County South Library District • Crystal Spybuck • 830-833-4280 • 1118 Main St, Blanco, TX 78606
- Bulverde Area Rural Library District (Mammen Family Public Library) • Susan Herr • 830-438-4864 • 131 Bulverde Crossing, Bulverde, TX 78163
- Canyon Lake Community Library District (Tye Preston Memorial Library) • Natalie Shults • 830-964-3744 • 16311 South Access Rd, Canyon Lake, TX 78133
- Dripping Springs Community Library District • Marcia Atilano • 512-858-7825 • 501 Sportsplex Dr, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
- East Travis Gateway Library District (Elroy Library and Garfield Library) • Brittany Burke • 512-243-1981• 13512 FM 81, Del Valle, TX 78617
- Forest Hill Library District • Michael Hardrick • 817-551-5354 • 6962 Forest Hill Dr, Forest Hill, TX 76140-1814
- Lake Travis Community Library District • Morgan McMillian • 512-263-2885 • 1938 Lohmans Crossing, Austin, TX 78734
- Liberty Hill Public Library District • Angela Palmer • 512-778-6400 • 355 Loop 332, Liberty Hill, TX 78642
- Salado Public Library District • Jeanie Lively • 254-947-9191 • 1151 N. Main St, Salado, TX 76571
- Timpson Public Library District • Jim Barrett (Board member); Daniel Shepherd (Board member) • 936-254-2966 • 520 Austin St, Timpson, TX 75975
- Wells Branch Community Library District • Donita Ward • 512-989-3188 • 15001 Wells Port Dr, Austin, TX 78728
- Westbank Community Library District (Westbank Library and Laura Bush Library) • Mary Jo Finch • 512-314-3580 • 1309 Westbank Dr, Austin, TX 78746
- Wimberley Village Library District • Carolyn Manning • 512-847-2188 • 400 FM 2325, Wimberley, TX 78676