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In 2007, the 9,214 public libraries in the United States served 97% of the total population, a figure that has remained steady for more than a decade.
But while large public libraries may serve the majority of Americans--nearly 75%--small public libraries offer the most outlets. The majority of public libraries (88%) are located in small cities and villages with a service population of less than 50,000, and more than half have a population service area of fewer than 10,000 people.
These libraries' directors wear many hats: liaison to the board of trustees, policy maker, staff supervisor, budget director, collections and program manager. When those hats sit smartly on the chosen head, library operations run more smoothly.
Who runs the library?
Although there is no single standard of public library governance, the majority of public libraries in the United States, and small ones in particular, are organized as part of a municipal government. In almost all cases, though, the library is governed by an independent board of trustees, usually appointed but sometimes elected (as in the case of public library districts), with clearly defined statutory responsibilities. Library boards are typically made up of citizen representatives who share three important traits: genuine interest in the library as an essential service, familiarity with the community, and general knowledge of library policies and procedures. Specific responsibilities may vary from state to state, but a board of trustees is generally given responsibility in three areas of the library's …