Administrative Read Reference

Public Libraries and the Law

Campaign Finance

The Consolidated Election Law [10 ILCS 5/10-6.1 and 5/9-16] requires that local election officials must notify candidates of the requirements relating to campaign financing. In summary, the requirements are that any candidate or group that accepts contributions or makes expenditures of money or anything of value aggregating $3,000 in a 12-month period must file the reports provided in the statute. If the $3,000 limit is met, the person or group is a "local political committee" and must designate a chairman and treasurer, file a statement of organization, and file periodic reports at specified times until the committee is formally dissolved. There are strict penalties for violations.

As for public policy questions, opposing or supporting groups must follow the same rules if the $3,000 limit is met. Libraries themselves cannot use public funds to campaign or directly advocate particular positions in contested elections. Use of public funds to explain the library’s needs and ability to perform services with available resources is permitted under a "public education" theory. The Public Library District Act specifically permits expenditures of funds to educate contiguous areas without library service as to the benefits of annexation and to encourage their annexation.*

*Most federal and state grants to promote serving "unserved areas" prohibit the use of any library funds (grant and tax or library funds) during the grant project for such encouragement.