Just as there are many ways of organizing public libraries, there are many ways our state governments establish state library agencies. Some public libraries are agencies of municipal or counties governments (or combinations thereof – city-county libraries).
Some public libraries are independent municipal corporations, district libraries that serve a town and neighboring un-incorporated areas or multiple towns (and unincorporated areas). In Hawaii, there is only one public library – the Hawaii State Public Library System and all of the libraries one would see in towns are its branches.
The U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which just issued The PLS 2010, calls the state government agencies that operate state libraries “State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs)." They “are the official agencies charged with state-wide library development and the administration of federal funds authorized by the Library Services and Technology Act (P.L. 111-340; passed in December 2010). These agencies vary greatly. They are located in various departments of state government and report to different authorities. They are involved in various ways in the development and operation of electronic information networks. They provide different types of services to different types of libraries.”
SLAAs “are increasingly receiving broader legislative mandates affecting libraries of all types in the states (i.e., public, academic, school, special, and library systems). For example, their administrative and developmental responsibilities affect the operation of thousands of public, academic, school, and special libraries in the nation.”
They “provide important reference and information services to state government and administer the state library and special operations such as state archives, libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, and the State Center for the Book.” An example of the latter would be the Illinois Center for the Book, an affiliate of The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
The IMLS stated, “The SLAA may also function as the state's public library at large, providing service to the general public and state government employees. Data on SLAAs complement IMLS data collected on public libraries, and NCES data collected on academic and school libraries.”