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Policies: Winnefox Position on Intersystem Service
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Winnefox Library System web site

TO: System Librarians and Trustees
FROM: John Nichols
SUBJECT: Winnefox Position on Intersystem Service


As a condition of membership in Winnefox, all member libraries must serve all residents of the system area on the same basis as they serve their own municipal residents. Member libraries have not been required to serve non-system residents on the same basis.

In addition, public library systems are required by state statues (Section 43.24(2)(g)) to have service agreements with adjacent library systems. These agreements can be in any service area where cooperation is mutually beneficial, e.g., continuing education or delivery. This statute has never required that agreements be for intersystem on-site borrowing, but the Division for Library Services (DLS) has always encouraged systems to implement such borrowing agreements.

Winnefox has intersystem on-site borrowing agreements with Outagamie-Waupaca Library System (OWLS), Mid-Wisconsin Library System, South Central Library System (SCLS), and the Manitowoc-Calumet Library Systems (MCLS). The Wisconsin Valley Library Service has notified Winnefox that it is terminating our agreement, effective January 15, 1994. (WLS has also voluntary intersystem on-site borrowing agreements with 7 non-contiguous systems in Wisconsin.)

In 1985, the Wisconsin Legislature passed Section 43.17(10) of the Wisconsin Statutes requiring that all system member libraries "honor the valid borrowers' cards" of public libraries in adjacent public library systems. In March 1992, the Legislature added new language to the statutes which creates an exception to Section 43.17(10). This section allows a public library to refuse to honor a valid borrower's card from a library in an adjacent system if the library doesn't receive reimbursement sufficient to cover the cost of providing the service. (There is a 500 circulation threshold.) Consequently, it is possible now for system libraries to refuse service to residents of adjacent systems.


WLS Position

Following much discussion and careful consideration, the WLS Board has established this position to make a stronger recommendation regarding the provision of intersystem service by member libraries:

1. Where intersystem on-site borrowing agreements are in place (e.g., with OWLS and SCLS), the terms of the intersystem agreements define the conditions for extending services. Unless member libraries formally notify WLS (as specified in membership agreements) of intent no to comply with intersystem agreement, they are obligated to serve residents of these systems.

Any problems or concerns local libraries may have regarding the provision of service to residents of these systems must be directed to WLS. Member libraries should not attempt to resolve any intersystem inequities at the local level when intersystem agreements are in place.

2. Where no intersystem on-site borrowing agreements are in place (e.g., WVLS), the extension of local library services is under the sole authority of the local library board. Member libraries that provide a significant level of service, as defined by Section 43.17(11), are not required to serve residents of these adjacent systems.

WLS recommends that member libraries carefully consider whether to provide a level of service to residents of systems where no intersystem agreements are in place (Section 43.17(11)), if a significant service imbalance may result.


There are a number of reasons why the WLS Board has decided to recommend that member libraries no provide a significant level of service to residents from areas where no intersystem agreements are in effect. These are summarized briefly below:

1. This recommendation is consistent with WLS long-standing philosophy, embodied in County agreements, that compensation for non-resident use rests with the user's local community and/or county.

2. WLS member counties and municipalities continue to fund municipal library service at a high level. Public officials have expressed displeasure that some libraries are providing service to residents of counties that don't provide any compensation.

3. The system and its member libraries should not take responsibility for other jurisdictions. If a county chooses not to provide adequate library service, libraries in another system should honor that choice.

4. Little progress has been made to resolve intersystem service inequities. There is no motivation for a jurisdiction to adequately compensate another jurisdiction for library service if the service is already being provided for free.

5. In an automated environment, one library's policy decisions can have consequences for another library. It is nearly impossible for one on-line library to discontinue service to a group of patrons that another on-line library serves. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this memo, intersystem agreements or nonresident use of member libraries.

As approved by the Winnefox Library System Board of Trustees on February 9, 1994

Updated January 10, 2003