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Can a library charge user fees for services provided to non-residents?

Modified on 2020/11/20 16:45 by Jeremy Stroud Categorized as Budget, FAQ

MRSC posts the following response (Reviewed November 2013):

“Yes. AGO 1992 No. 31 reviews this issue, noting that basic library services must be provided free of charge to residents of the political jurisdiction which supports the library through taxation. The corollary is that public libraries can charge user fees to those who do not live within the jurisdiction which provides the tax revenues to pay for the library. In fact, if a public library provides services to non-residents without charging a fee, an argument can be made that the library is violating the "gift clause" of the Washington State Constitution. [ Article VIII, Section 7 – CREDIT NOT TO BE LOANED — “No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money, or property, or loan its money, or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm, or become directly or indirectly the owner of any stock in or bonds of any association, company or corporation.” ] Libraries can charge for ancillary services such as copying machines, phones, fax machines, etc. - that issue is also covered in the AGO.”

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