Friday, February 21, 2014

Financial Resources of Public Libraries P- 13. Public Libraries * By :C P Vashishth

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Financial Resources of Public Libraries

P- 13. Public Libraries *

By :C P Vashishth

1.0 Objectives

After reading this module, you will be able to:
  • Get acquainted with financial management of libraries;
  • Understand the need for finances in public libraries;
  • Identify   the sources of finance for public libraries;
  • Explain the role of various organisations in making available  financial resources to public libraries; and
  • Highlight the present status of public library financing in India.

2. 0 Introduction

A public library is a library which is accessible by the general public and is usually funded from public sources (such as tax money). Public libraries exist in most places in the world and are often considered an essential part of an educated and literate population. They are distinct from academic, research, or other special libraries in their mandate, which is to serve the general public's information needs. They also offer material for general entertainment and leisure purposes. Public libraries provide free services such as making available books of general interest, newspapers, magazines and books of interest to children to encourage literacy. Public libraries are typically lending libraries, allowing users to take books and other materials from the library premises temporarily. They also have reference collections which is not circulated like any other kind of library. Public libraries primarily focus on popular materials such as popular fiction and storybooks, as well as educational and nonfiction materials of interest to the general public. Computer and internet access are also often offered by the modern public libraries.

3.0 Financial Management

Financial Management is the application of general management principles to various  financial operations.   Finances are essential for every human activity and success in planning various activities is often dependent on the amount of finance available and the manner in which it is to be utilized. A basic knowledge of library finance, library expenditure, budgeting and accounting is, therefore, very important for any library and information science professional.

Financial management can be defined as the study of principles and practices involved in the financial operations of an organization. Libraries too are included here as financial management also deals with various aspects of acquisition, distribution and utilization of funds besides balancing of revenue and expenditures. In addition to the above, the general control and evaluation of financial affairs is also within the purview of financial management.

Besides the above, it is the responsibility of parent organization of the library to take care of financial issues involving raising of funds, investing of funds, preparation and approval of budget and other finance related matters. The role of the library is to estimate its own financial requirements; preparation of budget for its functions, activities, programmes; managing  and spending of  funds within the stipulated time frame; maintaining accounts and  preparation of financial statements and reports.

3.1 Public Library Finance

Public libraries are an excellent resource for continuing education, literacyeducation, and place for  leisure  reading. Public libraries are usually to ensure educational, social and cultural gains for the community for which they exist.  Most cities, or towns have a public library or get library services through a mobile library.  Use of a public library is free to all authorised residents within the scope of the particular public library. There are several sources for library funding, starting with government funds which are distributed to states. The states too offer funding for the public libraries within the state.  Local municipalities also play an important role in providing funding to public libraries, and most librarians apply for grants to supplement these funds. Finally, private donations help to sustain public libraries.

The proportions of funding depend on where the library is located. In general, the municipality provides the greatest percentage of funding for public libraries; often at least half, if not more. These funds are gathered from local taxes, library fines, and other tools used to generate revenue for the library. On the state and national level, funding is determined by budget allocation, and policy decisions of the authorities. These funds are  to purchase  books, pay staff, expand libraries, and provide other valuable support services.
Grants and private donations can also be used to provide a sizable amount of funding for public libraries. Grants include technology grants which allow libraries to install and upgrade computer systems. Many private donors are pleased to support their local public libraries by donating funds or their rare book collection.
In view of the above, various sources of public library finance are:

a)        Government Sources
These include funds from central  government, state  government and local bodies. In western countries, the public libraries are usually fully  supported by funds provided by the government. In our country, the public libraries are partially supported by funds provided by the state governments or the local authorities. In states which have proper library legislation, funds by the government are made available which are usually certain percentage of the annual budget of the state government.

b)   Library cess
Some Indian States that have library legislation, have the provision of raising library cess along with various taxes charged from people of the state. This library cess too contributes towards the funding of public libraries.

c)   Subscription
It is considered as the main source of income by most of the public libraries. But as the public library system is supposed to be supported by the government, subscription as the main source of funding defeats the purpose as services of public library should be free for all the users. Anyway, in India the practice of receiving the subscription from users is there and thus this remains as the main source of funding.

d)   Income generated by the Library
Public  libraries may raise funds by other means like:

-          Overdue charges from users
-          Compensation  collected from users towards loss of books
-          Income generated  by selling old newspapers and other  waste materials
-          Interest received from investments, etc.
-          Rents on vacant spaces
-          Fund raised from special events

e)   Endowments
Some private benefactors and charitable institutions have provision of bestowing funds to public libraries. Although these kind of grants are not permanent but are usually quite helpful at times to build up a specific facility or collection in a public library. At times, the endowments may not be in monetary terms but gifting of private and personal collection of some prominent individuals.

Public libraries, therefore, are financially supported by various ways. The main support in majority of countries is a regular budget grant from the government. But in India, this is not happening and as a result, the public libraries in India have inadequate funds. It will be proper if most of the initial annual expenses are borne by the government, especially the state governments. The rest of the expenditure can be met by funds raised by library cess, etc. Besides this, the local authorities too should be involved in wellbeing of public libraries and make provisions for collecting funds. Income from the other sources like library fees, fines, gifts, etc. is usually meagre and thus cannot be considered as a prominent source of revenue.

4.0 Public Libraries In India – Financial System

Although the government of India allocates funds for public library development in its five-year plans, this funding is not connected to effective planning. The pattern and development of public libraries varies from state to state. The manner of financing the public libraries too is not only different in each state but also very complex. The  library acts have not been passed in all the states and whichever states have library legislation, there is no uniformity at all.

The users of a  public library are expected to utilise the library services in every possible manner. However, they are supposed only to spend time and not money for the utilization of services. Thus, from where to raise the finance for all these services. It has been seen from various developed countries that public library service can be effectively offered only through government initiatives, and in our country through legislation.
In terms of financial resources, library legislation is required  because:
  • It  helps in creating necessary conditions under which public libraries can be established in all the states.
  • Public  libraries can be put on a sound and sure financial footing by way of levy of library tax.
  • Public  libraries become independent  from subscription, donation or private gifts.
In other words, the library legislation has the provision of financial support to the public libraries, but this provision should depend upon the social, political and economic environment. There are mainly two ways of making provision of finance to public libraries through library legislation. They are:
 i.       Annual budget allocation by the state out of its total funds with capital grants from central government, and
         ii.      Levying of library cess with a matching grant from the state government.
    One of the components of library legislation is finance and the act  should include:
    • Rate of library cess/local extra tax or surcharge, etc.;
    • Goods on which tax will be levied i.e. vehicle, land, house, other properties, etc.;
    • The method of receiving the cess from the public;
    • Checking of received money through cess; and
    • Other sources of finance.
    There should be a component in the library Act itself to maintain all the records of accounts and audit from time to time. The appointment of staff, categories of the staff, pay scale, service condition and working period should also be mentioned in the Act.
    In India, nineteen states have so far enacted library legislation and the rest are providing library services without legislation. Therefore, to know about the system of public library finance in India, the states are accordingly grouped into two categories, i.e., statutory system and non-statutory system of financing.

    4.1 Statutory System

    The Indian States which have library legislation fall under this category, and the organisation of library services is referred to as the statutory system of library service. As you have already studied in Module 4 on Library Legislation in India, Tamil Nadu was the first state to announce library legislation in 1948 and the latest is Arunachal Pradesh in 2009. However, the library acts of these states do not present a uniform pattern. In this system, thus the public library system is regulated by the law. There is, usually a library fund received from various levels of the governmental agencies, from which finance is to be spent on various aspects related to the public libraries. Usually, the components of this fund are library cess, state government grants, special government grants for purpose of library development, gifts & endowments, and finances from other sources.

    4.2 Non-Statutory System

    The states and the union territories that have not enacted library legislation are also having public library systems. In this system, the government is not bound by the law. These states are carrying out their library activities either through the direct government grants or by grant-in-aid system. This is referred to as the non-statutory system. The library development is carried out in the form of administrative activities subject to the policy of the government in power. Here, the government is not bound by law to promote activities of public libraries. The public libraries are, however, established at various levels, viz. state, district, taluka, village, etc. Presently, the system of financing the public libraries in these states is highly diverse. But in some states, such existing system is working very well.

    5.0 Sources Of Finance For Libraries In India

    Public library funding can come from a number of sources, including central government funding, state library funding, local sources and library foundations. We will now discuss the general trend of financing public libraries of India.

    5.1 Central Government

    Some funding for libraries, though not the majority comes from central government funding. Libraries can also benefit from other types of central funding. In India, the public libraries are placed under the purview of the state governments. The public libraries, therefore, receive very little funding from the central government. This is  usually through the Five-year Plans which are involved in setting up of major new libraries, or various library committee, etc. One such example is funding made available for setting up of Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, Kolkata in 1972 to promote activities of public libraries.

    As mentioned above, the government sets up various library committees/working groups, etc.  from time to time and the recommendations of these committees also involve major recommendations related to finances. Examples of some such committees:

    1957 - Advisory Committee for Libraries appointed
    1964 - Working Group on Libraries appointed
    1972 - Working Group on Development of Public Libraries appointed
    1983 - Working Group on Modernization of Library Services and Informatics
    1985 - Committee on National Policy on Library and Information Systems appointed
    1986 - National Literacy Mission
    2005- National Knowledge Commission (NKC)
    The Advisory Committee for Libraries was appointed in 1957 by the Government of India, with K.P. Sinha as the Chairman. The Committee drafted a Model Library Billand drew up a 25–year plan. In 1959, the Committee submitted a report with recommendations, some of which were:
    1. Enact library legislation, in all constituent states, to establish public libraries;
    2. Build nationwide library service with detailed suggestions for financing through the state and central governments;
    3. Extend public library service to the blocks, panchayats, and villages; and,
    4. Create an independent Department of Social Education and Libraries.

    The Central Government should assist the State in the development of public libraries in a larger way than it has done so far. The Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation as the national agency for co-coordinating and assisting the development of public libraries is suitably strengthened enabling it to discharge its responsibilities effectively.

    The year 1986 saw adoption of the National Literacy Mission, which emphasized on the education of women and also the establishment of rural libraries.

    Working Group on Modernization of Library Services and Informatics in the Seventh Plan was appointed by the Planning Commission in 1983. In its 1984 report, the group recommended formulation of a National Policy on Library Services and Informatics in support of similar recommendations made earlier by other committees.

    National Knowledge Commission has been set up with Knowledge as a key area, under which special focus is on Libraries and Public libraries too.

    5.2 State Governments

    It has already been discussed in the previous section that states that have enacted library legislation receive proper funding from state authorities for maintaining the public libraries. Also the states that have not yet passed library law, too have some kind of system for receiving funds for their public libraries. Thus, the state funding for public libraries provides far more funds than central government sources, but still far less than local sources.

    RRRLF has recommended setting up of a State Library Committee in each state and union territory of India. Foundation’s assistance is available for all categories of public libraries, viz., State Central Library, Regional/Divisional Libraries, District Central Libraries, Sub-divisional Libraries, Tehsil Libraries, Taluka Libraries, Block Libraries, Branch Libraries, Municipal Libraries, Town Libraries, Rural Libraries, Panchayat Libraries, Village Libraries, etc. directly maintained or aided or recognized by the State Government. State Library Committee will decide number and categories of libraries for assistance under different schemes and consolidated list of books for different categories of libraries.

    Assistance is also given to both Government and Non-government libraries for construction of a new building or extension of the existing building. Maximum amount given to District Level Library is Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 8 lakh for Sub-Division/Town Level Library once in ten years. For other libraries Rs. 4 lakh can be given for construction of library building.

    The role of the State Central Library is crucial in networking and the establishment of uniform library procedures within the States. The State Central Library/Directorate of Public Libraries has to perform as the coordinating agency for public libraries in the State.

    To bring about the development of the public libraries in a State it is vital that each State enacts its own library legislation. The Central Government should revise the Model Public Library Bill, which it has already been prepared, in the light of experience gained in recent years and urge upon the States the importance of enacting such legislation. Finances for library development should be found by each State either from its general revenues or from local taxation.

    5.3 Local Funding

    Local funds make up a major portion of public library funding. These funds are gathered from local taxes, library fees and fines, library cess, etc. Local municipalities also play an important role in providing funding to public libraries, and most librarians apply for grants to supplement these funds. The proportions of funding depend on where the library is located. In general, the municipality provides the greatest percentage of funding for public libraries. 

    5.4 Other Organisations

    Another great source of funds for public libraries is miscellaneous sources. This  includes gifts and donations of money, contributions, gifts, special grants and interest earned. Private donations help to sustain many public libraries. Grants and private donations are used to provide a sizable amount of funding for public libraries. Grants include technology grants which allow libraries to install and upgrade computer systems, grants which focus on a particular topic such as science, fiction, children's books, or local history, and education grants which support locally based community efforts such as after school reading programmes. Many private donors support their local public libraries by donating funds or including the library in their wills. Special grants, which are dispersed for State Governments and the Central Government (including grants received through Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, Kolkata) for specified purpose connected with the libraries may be included in this category.

    6. Role of RRRLF

    Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF) is a central autonomous organization established and fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. This organization functions as a promotional agency, an advisory and consultancy organization, a funding body for public library development, public library services and systems and promotes public library movement in  India. The Foundation works in close association and active cooperation with different State Governments and Union Territory Administrations through a machinery called State Library Planning Committee (SLPC/SLC) set up in each State at the instance of the Foundation.

    A major activity of RRRLF is Assistance Programme, which is, according to the RRRLF website (  as below:

    RRRLF promotes public library services rendering book and financial assistance to the public libraries under different schemes of assistance in collaboration with Library Department or Department in-charge of Public Library Services.


    1) Assistance towards building up of adequate stock of books and reading materials.

    2) Assistance towards development of Rural Book Deposit Centres and Mobile Library Services.

    3) Assistance towards Organisation of Seminars, Workshops, Training Courses (Orientation / Refresher), Book Exhibitions and Library Awareness Programmes.

    4) Assistance towards purchase of Storage Materials, Reading Room Furniture and Library Equipment like Card Cabinet, Fire Extinguisher etc. including Copier.

    5) Assistance to Public Libraries towards Increasing Accommodation.

    6) Assistance to Public Libraries to Acquire Computer with accessories for library application and TV, CD Player, DVD Player for Educational Purposes.

    Assistance under these schemes is given from the resources shared on matching basis with the States/Union Territory Administrations. For developed States 50 : 50, Developing and lagging states 60 : 40 & North-Eastern States 90 : 10.


    1) Assistance towards building up of adequate stock of books through central selection.

    2) Assistance to voluntary organisations (NGOs) providing public library services.

    3) Assistance to Children's Libraries or Children's Section, Senior Citizen Section, Neo-Literate Section of General Public Libraries.

    4) Assistance to public libraries towards Celebration of 50/60/75/100/125/150 years and the like.

    5) Assistance towards Organisation of Seminar/Conference by Professional Organisation, Local Bodies, NGOs engaged in Public Library Development / Library Movement and University Departments of Library Science.

    6) Assistance towards collection and compilation of library statistics through official and non-official agencies.

    7) Assistance to centrally sponsored libraries.

    8) Assistance towards Establishment of RRRLF Children Corner.

    Assistance under these schemes is given fully from the Foundation's own resources while assistance under scheme at 2 is rendered on 75 : 25 matching basis (75% being Foundation's share). While Application Forms can be downloaded, details of schemes are available in the Foundation's Information Manual "Books for the Millions at Their Doorsteps" which is available in the office of the Convener, State Library Planning Committee (i.e., Director/Officer-in-charge of the library) of the respective State / U.T. or in the state (Central) libraries of all states / union territories and RRRLF Zonal offices.

    7.0 Funding Problems in Public Libraries

    Most public libraries rely heavily on local government funding. Some proactive librarians have devised alliances with use and civic groups to supplement their financial situations. Library "friends" groups, activist boards, and well organized book sales supplement government funding. With the increasing costs, the public libraries are compelled to look beyond the parent bodies that make available funds. They may have to depend on the  communities they serve.

    It has been seen that the general public values free public libraries. But it is also found that the public is mostly unaware of financial difficulties facing their libraries. There is sufficient, but latent support for increased library funding among the general  population. Thus, the public libraries, long supported by various government entities, have seen a decline in monetary support for several decades.

    It is also critical for maintaining a strong and successful public library to receive adequate funding. We all know that the costs are rising and expenditures have gone up in the modern times.  That puts libraries in direct competition with all other government services.

    The implementation of library legislation in Indian states, where enacted, has been uneven.  A general lack of faith in public governance also plagues the attempt to provide public services through library legislation. The role of public libraries in India is still misunderstood and hence, they remain underdeveloped due to lack of proper system of funding. 

    8.0 Summary

    Finance plays a crucial role in the  developmental activities of an organisation. Public libraries being spending organisations do not earn revenue for the services rendered by them.  Therefore, they need constant financial support both from the government and non-government agencies to provide the services smoothly and effectively. A regular source of finance also strengthens the public library system to perform in an efficient manner.

    Libraries have received significant public and private financial support over the years, ranging from local property tax support to state budget funding and a high level of private philanthropic funding. But funding level and mechanisms vary tremendously from state to state.  The systems of financing public libraries can be categorised as statutory or non- statutory.  Under the statutory system, the states that have provided for library act have made provision for finances.

    The public library legislation is must for all the states in the digital era, authorities try to understand that point for the smooth running of library “fund” is the basic requirement. The whole point of the library being a free public service is to provide equal opportunity to knowledge.

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