An interstate compact is an agreement among member states that addresses a common issue. In the case of the Interstate Library Compact, the issue to solve was how to provide the best library services when the distribution of the population makes it more practical for a library to serve residents of another state.
A real world example of what this looks like follows:
Indiana’s Union City Public Library serves the residents of Union City, Ind. Union City also extends into Ohio. However, Indiana’s library card law only allows the Union City Public Library to provide library cards to out of state residents when there is an interstate compact agreement in place. Otherwise, Indiana libraries may only provide library cards to Indiana residents, and they must charge for the cards if the Indiana residents are not part of the library’s tax district. Indiana’s Union City Public Library is the closest public library for Union City, Ohio residents. However, without an interstate compact agreement, the Indiana library could not serve the Ohio patrons.
The Interstate Library Compact establishes standards and procedures for providing library services on an interstate basis. States become part of the Interstate Library Compact by enacting legislation that mirrors the language of the compact. Then, member states, or public libraries within the member states, can enter into cooperative agreements with the libraries of other member states.
According to the National Center for Interstate Compacts, there are 34 states that are a part of the Interstate Library Compact. See the list of member libraries who have chosen to enact the Interstate Library Compact into law. Indiana and our neighboring states Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky have all chosen to be part of the Interstate Library Compact. If you have questions about interstate compacts, please contact the Indiana State Library (317) 232-3675 or toll free at 1 (866) 683-0008.
This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia at sywatson@library.IN.gov.