Public Library Standards

Best practices to inform and guide library funders, supporters, and staff; serve as a point of reference for evaluation; support a change in policy or services; and provide a framework for ongoing development


The North Carolina Public Library Standards, developed in 2012, are written as benchmarks of conditions necessary for effective library service in North Carolina. Each benchmark is supported by one or more activities that contribute to the development of those conditions. While a few activities do specify requirements established by North Carolina General Statute or Administrative Code, they do not generally include statistical measures that set a minimum requirement or represent an average public library. Public library service in North Carolina is delivered through regional, county and municipal library systems operating service points in unique urban and rural communities across the state. The benchmarks acknowledge this diversity by encouraging each library to determine the most appropriate metrics for their success.

The benchmarks are divided into five sections: Administration, Facilities, Human Resources, Resources, Services. Within each section, the benchmarks are organized by three categories:

  • Public Value – practices that demonstrate effective stewardship of public funds and establish the Library’s relevance and impact in the community.
  • Management – practices that result in effective and sustainable library operations.
  • Community Engagement – practices that build collaborative relationships and involve community members in planning, developing, using and evaluating library services.
Each benchmark has a desired outcome for a library’s community or community members. These are broad statements intended to provide libraries with a foundation for establishing more specific, measurable outcomes appropriate to the needs of their communities.