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North Dakota Library Law: Overview

North Dakota Library Law

North Dakota Century Code outlines all of the laws that govern those in North Dakota. Each biennium, after the legislature updates the Century Code with new laws, the North Dakota State Library compiles relevant laws to libraries into the North Dakota Library Law document. This compilation serves as a training and reference resource for all libraries in the state in regards to open records and meeting laws, State Aid to Public Libraries, establishment of public library services, obscenity, Library Media Specialist credentialing, and more.

It is important that all librarians familiarize themselves with the laws relevant to their chosen profession in order to best provide their services in a legal manner. This guide compiles information on major topics, but it is not comprehensive. Please consult the State Library with general questions or your local attorney for further interpretations of law.

The librarians at the North Dakota State Library are not lawyers, and they can only provide general guidance and point you towards other resources that may be of assistance to you on your quest for library law knowledge.

Below are links to other aspects of both North Dakota law and Federal law. Please take the time to pursue these resources as they will help you better serve your library and community:

Attorney General Opinions

There are several Attorney General Opinions that have been issued that affect different aspects of libraries including State Aid, library boards, roles of county and city commissions, establishment and re-establishment of library services, and more.

  • AGO 82-4; Acquisition of property for a public library
  • 93-F-14; Approval of electors is required before starting joint or contracted library service
  • 93-L-274; Library construction
  • 94-L-154; Residency requirements of board members
  • 96-L-55; Library service must be established after a positive vote
  • 98-F-29; Merging city and county collections, joint library services, uniform mill levy (parts of this opinion were overruled by 2006-L-07)
  • 98-L-105; Voting requirements clarified
  • 99-L-54; Circumstances of a city opting out of county service, petitions
  • 2000-F-13; Collection disposal, removal of the library board, voting, contracting with other libraries, appointing a joint library board; 
  • 2002-L-28; Who controls a library building fund
  • 2006-L-07; Home rule mill levies, joint library services; non-uniform mill levy
  • 2006-L-24; State Aid calculation
  • 2007-L-16; Removal of board members by city or county
  • 2009-L-03; Removal of board members by city or county
  • 2011-L-03; Library board members and terms in home rule community

North Dakota Library Coordinating Council

The North Dakota Library Coordinating Council (NDLCC), as outlined in NDCC §54-24.4-01, consists of 11 members including the State Librarian, the president of NDLA, and 9 members appointed by the governor to represent public libraries (2); school libraries (1); public higher education institution libraries (1); private higher education institution libraries (1); special libraries such as law or medical libraries (1); disabled, economically disadvantaged, and minority populations (1), and citizens at large (2).

Board members can serve two 3-year terms. Announcements of vacancies are made via the North Dakota State Library's listservs, Flickertale newsletter, website, and social media. Applications can be submitted at any time to the Office of the Governor using the Application Form for Boards and Commissions.

The NDLCC's duties include assisting in planning, coordinating, and evaluating the services and programs of ND libraries, serving as the state advisory council on libraries, approving and distributing Library Vision grants to libraries in accordance with Library Vision, and more as outlined in NDCC §54-24.4-05.

NDLCC also created the Standards for Public Libraries which are used to determine grant eligibility and promote library growth in North Dakota. Libraries must meet certain criteria to reach the classification of either Developing, Excelling, or Future-Focused; libraries that meet all of the criteria for the Developing level are eligible for competitive grants as per the NDLCC grant guidelines. Eligibility and standards information is gathered as a part of the Annual Report filled out annually by public library directors.

Further information about NDLCC  including current members, organizational bylaws, and meeting minutes can be found here.