Small and rural public libraries are community anchors and information lifelines for the areas that they serve. This guide aims to survey current issues and challenges faced by these institutions. The resources are intended for library science students and LIS professionals interested in learning about the unique circumstances in which these organizations operate and persevere. The information and resources are classified into five broad—and often interrelated—categories of challenges: economics, technology, geography, community, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a 2013 report titled The State of Small and Rural Libraries in the United States, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) developed clear definitions for what constitutes a “small” or “rural” library. “Small” is defined as having a legal service area population of less than 25,000. “Rural” is defined based on using locale codes developed by the U.S. Census Bureau for the National Center for Education Statistics to indicate any area outside of an urbanized area or urban cluster. Other professional organizations, such as the American Library Association (ALA), have adopted these definitions and frequently use them as eligibility criteria for grant funding opportunities.
Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) - The ARSL is a non-profit organization and professional network that supports small and rural libraries through advocacy, creating resources, establishing partnerships, and fostering professional development.
Challenges and Opportunities Facing Rural Libraries in Utah - Kari May of the Utah State Library draws on her experience working in rural libraries to present challenges and opportunities unique to these institutions.