Administrative Read Reference

Public Libraries and the Law

Non-Resident Service

A non-resident is defined as "an individual residing in Illinois who does not have his or her principal residence within a public library service area" [23 Ill. Adm. Code 3050.10].

Public library boards have the authority to extend the use of the library to non-residents for an annual fee, which must be at least equal to the cost paid by the residents and which must be paid by all non-residents, except for those specifically exempted from paying the non-resident fee by law (75 ILCS 5/4-7 (12) and 75 ILCS 16/30-55.60). Selling non-resident cards is optional, but most public library boards do offer this fee-based service. Administrative rules (23 Ill. Adm. Code 3050.10-60) determine where non-residents must go to buy a non-resident card and also dictate the formulas that library boards may adopt to calculate each nonresident fee.

Once non-resident cards have been purchased, the card is recognized as a valid public library card and can be used at other public libraries that are members of the same library system.

The Illinois library systems publish a listing of all system member public libraries, whether those libraries have elected to sell non-resident cards, and their non-resident fee.

Calculating the Non-resident Fee

Under Illinois State Library rules approved as part of the Illinois Administrative Code [23 Ill. Adm. Code 3050], a public library has one of three options to use to determine its fee for a non-resident library card. The aim of the first two options is to establish a fee that is equitable and proportionate to the fee paid by residents through local tax sources such as residential property taxes, while the third option is intended to cover only a limited number of special cases as described below. The third option, the average non-resident fee in the system area, requires the express, specific authorization of the Director of the State Library, based on a request from a local library board and is NOT a general alternative to the other two options, the general mathematical formula and the tax bill method.

  1. General Mathematical Formula
    • Using this method, the local library should divide the library income from local property tax sources or its equivalent (excluding income from state and federal funds) by the local population to determine the cost of service per capita. The library should multiply the per capita figure by the average number of persons per household in the community to obtain the average cost per household on which to base a fee for a non-resident family card. The most recent federal census information available shall be used to determine population and household size.
  1. Tax Bill Methods
    • If the non-resident applying for a card is a homeowner, the public library’s tax rate or equivalent, including all special levies for library purposes, is applied to the non-resident property owner’s principal residence equalized assessed valuation on an individual, case-by-case basis. The non-resident’s most recent tax bill will be used.
    • If the non-resident applying for a card is a renter, the public library will either charge a minimum of 15 percent of the monthly rent as the annual non-resident fee, or devise its own formula. The local formula shall take into account the average local rent of the community served by the public library, the public library’s property tax rate or equivalent, and the non-resident fee paid by homeowners. The library board must annually set the percentage to be applied to non-resident renters. Renters must provide the public library a current rent receipt or cancelled rent check for verification purposes.
  1. Average Non-Resident Fee in the System Area
    • In public library service areas with a disproportionately large share of property valuation in agricultural, industrial, commercial, or other types of non-residential property, the public library may ask the Director of the Illinois State Library to adopt as its non-resident fee the average non-resident fee in the system in which the library is located, as determined in the publication Illinois Public Library Statistics: Analysis, 2001-2002.

A number of issues concerning non-resident library cards and the calculation of fees for such cards are examined in greater detail on the Illinois State Library website at the following address: