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Definition of a Public Library in Colorado

Definition of a Public Library in Colorado

The legislative declaration in the Library Law, C.R.S. § 24-90-102, states that it is the policy in Colorado to ensure equal access to information and materials. Section 24-90-105(2)(a.3) of the Library Law directs the State Librarian to develop service standards to guide library development. Any entity wishing to qualify as a public library in Colorado must meet or exceed the following criteria:

Legal Responsibilities

  1. Be legally established under Colorado Library Law (C.R.S. § 24-90-101 et seq.)
  2. Comply with Colorado Library Law and any other local, Colorado, or federal laws that govern library operations.
  3. Maintain dedicated space that meets the criteria of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applicable to libraries.
  4. Ensure that a “library governing authority [1]” or “governing authority” submits statistical data for the Public Library Annual Report in a timely manner.

Library Administration and Management

  1. Provide free access to basic services as defined by written policies regarding lending, borrowing, and circulation services as approved by the library's governing authority.
  2. Have paid staff present during all hours of service. Staff pay and other compensation must be based on cost of living standards within the community.
  3. Prepare and utilize a long-range strategic plan for continuing improvement.

Access and Services

  1. Have an ongoing collections budget from local tax funds and a collection management plan for the purchase of materials and electronic access.
  2. Provide at least one device with public access to the Internet, a printer, an email address, a website, an online information catalog, and databases.
  3. Be open to the public a minimum of 20 hours each week. These hours will include morning, afternoon, evening, and/or weekend hours based on users’ and potential users’ disposable time. All service outlets of libraries providing multiple access points must be open to the public for no fewer than 20 hours a week.

Resource Sharing

  1. Be a member of and fully participate in the Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) program, extending privileges and services to state residents according to the CLC agreement.
  2. Comply with the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States and adopt the Colorado Interlibrary Loan Best Practices, including lending and borrowing materials through the statewide interlibrary loan network according to these codes.
  3. Be a member of the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC) and use its services as appropriate.


Flagpole outside of the Hayden Public Library, including a national library symbol flag, American flag, and Colorado flag

[1] Throughout these Colorado Public Library Standards, “library governing authority” or “governing authority” means the governing body of the local government entity to which the library belongs – such as a library board of trustees in the case of library districts, or municipal, county, schools, and or other entities with legal authority for the public library, as the context requires.

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