LEGAL AUTHORITY: County Libraries are organized under the County Free Library Law. In addition, the County Service Area (CSA) Law allows for the creation of a separate legal entity for library services, or a mechanism to provide financing flexibility within an existing county library system.

GOVERNING BOARD: County supervisors govern libraries established under the County Free Library Law or as a CSA.

FUNDING: County library systems are divided into two separate categories for purposes of local operational funds: general fund libraries, and libraries with a dedicated property tax rate. This distinction is very important because it profoundly affects the amount and predictability of funds received by county library agencies.

SERVICE AREA: County libraries serve unincorporated areas and cities, or areas within cities, which are neither served by a city library nor within the boundaries of independent library districts. Cities and library districts can ask to become part of the county library system. A county library may also contract with city or other county libraries to provide services. County libraries that contract to provide services to city residents are sometimes called city-county libraries. Although in practice CSA’s are used as a financing tool, they can provide separate library services and facilities throughout the boundaries set by the LAFCO during the CSA’s formation. CSA boundaries can include all of the county’s unincorporated area or just one or more small communities. Cities can pass a resolution asking to be included within a CSA’s boundaries.


Harriet Eddy’s address to the American Library Association in 1911

Harriet Eddy

Anne Hadden

California Public Library Organization, 2013

Harriet Eddy & The County Library System, recorded on August 26, 2021 by California State Library Foundation (CSLF). It is a YouTube discussion about CSLF’s LIMITED EDITION 2021 SPECIAL PUBLICATION: Harriet G. Eddy and California County Libraries. Copyright by CSLF. Permission has been granted by CSLF to post this video on this website.