Understanding Library Millage: The Backbone of Community Support for Public Libraries

Public libraries are essential community institutions that provide access to knowledge, resources, and a space for community engagement. To sustain these valuable services, many libraries rely on a funding mechanism known as library millage. In this blog post, we will delve into what a library millage is, its significance, and why it plays a crucial role in maintaining vibrant public libraries.


What is a Library Millage?

Referred to as a library tax or levy, its a form of property tax committed to funding public libraries. It is typically voted on by residents within a library’s jurisdiction and, if approved, results in a dedicated tax rate assessed on the taxable value of properties within that area. The revenue generated from the millage is then allocated to support the operations and services of the public library.


Importance of Library Millage

  • Stable Funding for Public Libraries
    Library millage provides a stable and predictable source of funding for public libraries. Unlike other revenue streams that may fluctuate based on economic conditions, a dedicated millage ensures a consistent financial foundation, allowing libraries to plan for the long term.
    Source: Michigan Department of Education – Library Millage
  • Community Investment in Education and Literacy
    Library millage reflects the community’s dedication to education and literacy. When residents vote in favor of a millage, they are actively choosing to invest in a resource that enables learning, provides access to information, and promotes a culture of reading within the community.
    Source: National Bureau of Economic Research – Do Public Libraries Improve Literacy?
  • Preserving Equal Access to Information
    Library millage contributes to the principle of equal access to information for all members of the community. By providing a reliable funding source, libraries can offer a wide range of services, including book collections, digital resources, educational programs, and community events, ensuring that everyone, regardless of financial standing, can benefit.
    Source: American Library Association (ALA) – Equity of Access
  • Supporting Lifelong Learning Opportunities
    Libraries play a crucial role in providing lifelong learning opportunities. Library millage enables the continuation and expansion of educational programs, workshops, and services that empower individuals to acquire new skills, pursue personal interests, and engage in continuous learning.
    Source: Public Libraries and Lifelong Learning 
  • Community Building and Cultural Enrichment
    Public libraries serve as community hubs that bring people together. Library millage supports not only books and educational materials but also cultural events, exhibitions, and activities that enrich the community’s cultural and social fabric.
    Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) – Public Libraries in the United States Survey

Challenges and Advocacy for Library Millage

  • Voter Awareness and Education
    Advocating for library millage often involves raising awareness among voters about the value libraries bring to the community. Libraries and their supporters engage in educational campaigns to inform residents about the impact of the millage on library services and encourage informed voting.
    Source: Library Advocacy and Awareness
  • Economic Considerations
    Financial factors, such as local economic conditions and property values, can influence the success of library millage campaigns. Libraries may need to navigate economic challenges and effectively communicate the benefits of the millage to the community.
    Source: Economic Challenges and Public Libraries


Library millage serves as a fiscal lifeline for public libraries, ensuring they have the resources needed to fulfill their crucial role in communities. By supplying steady funding, library millage supports equal access to information, community engagement, and lifelong learning opportunities. Libraries and their supporters play a critical role in promoting the importance of library millage, emphasizing its positive impact on education, literacy, and the overall well-being of the community. As communities recognize the value of their libraries, the support through millage remains pivotal in supporting these institutions.