Montana State Legislature

Montana State Library

The Library Commission, authorized in 22-1-101, MCA, administers state and federal library funding to operate and maintain the Montana State Library, oversees the six library federations located throughout Montana, and develops statewide library long-range planning, policy, and service coordination. Located in Helena, the Montana State Library and the Library Commission work to provide access to information services for all Montanans.

The Montana State Library (MSL) is composed of programs that serve the information needs of all branches of state government, its agencies, local counterparts and individuals seeking information and materials that are not found in their local libraries. Its charge includes effecting statewide planning for library development in all communities.

The State Library is a single program agency that is organized between two divisions with administration providing central management, fiscal and accounting services, and federal program administration.

The Digital Library Division maintains catalogued collections of specialized information resources including State of Montana publications, natural resource and geographic information, and information about the unique plants, animals, and habitats of Montana. The digital library provides resources to support the information needs of state agency management and staff, Montana librarians, and the public, including businesses and students. Digital library information and services are offered to users online and through one-on-one assistance. In addition, this division operates the Talking Book Library (MTBL). The MTBL provides library services to those who cannot read traditional print material. The MTBL includes a recording studio to create audio recordings of Montana-related publications, including books and magazines. This program serves about 3,900 people and has nearly 100 volunteers.

The Library Development Division provides consulting, professional development, technology services and program support for all libraries in Montana. Programs include the Montana Shared Catalog, a membership consortia of 180 libraries that share an integrated library management system that allows for more efficient resource sharing.

Since the Montana State Library is a single program agency, no organizational chart is included.

This report includes a series of charts that compare expenditure growth to the growth in the economy and growth in inflation adjusted for population. Montana statute, 17-8-106, MCA, recommends using growth in personal income for comparison purposes. Personal income is a measure for growth in the economy. Comparing growth allows financial planners to consider past and future demands in services or changes in revenues.

With a few exceptions, the trend for expenditures related to all governmental funds in the Montana State Library has followed the growth in inflation. The following list discusses in more detail the inflection points on the charts:

  1. The Montana State Library received federal funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  Expenditures totaled approximately $608,000 in FY 2011, $751,000 in FY 2012, and $445,000 in FY 2013
  2. The 2013 Legislature approved the transfer of the administration of certain geographic information systems (GIS) from the Department of Administration to the Montana State Library.  This increased state special revenue expenditures by approximately $892,000 and 2.50 FTE in FY 2014
  3. Legislators anticipated revenue shortfalls for FY 2017 through FY 2018 and reduced appropriations during the 2017 regular session and during a special session in November 2017.  The general fund appropriations for the Montana State Library were reduced by approximately $212,000 because of vacancy savings, the 5% reduction plan, and information technology convergence savings.  Additionally, SB 261 (2017 regular session) reduced general fund appropriations by approximately $680,000

  1.  In the 2009 biennium the Montana State Library received additional general fund appropriations for the geographic information system and the Natural Heritage Program to obtain, catalog, store, manage, and provide access to natural resource information. In the 2011 biennium the Montana State Library also received general fund appropriations related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to provide grants for additional reading services for blind patrons
  2.  In the 2009 and the 2011 biennium there were funding shifts from the Resource Indemnity Trust (RIT) state special revenue account to general fund because the RIT state special revenue account was over-appropriated
  3.  The administration of certain geographic information systems was transferred from the Department of Administration to the Montana State Library in FY 2014. This increased expenditures by $892,000
  4.  In the 2017 biennium the legislature approved a reduction in state special revenue in order to align budgeted expenditures with HJ 2 projections related to the coal severance tax
  5.  In FY 2018 there was a reduction in general fund expenditures because of appropriation reductions approved by the legislature


Legislative Changes

2019 Legislature

  • The legislature passed HB 633, which created a new state special revenue account for the library as part of a mission shift to increase and expand digital library services.  As part of the bill, the Legislative Finance Committee will direct a study of a funding formula to adequately and fairly distribute the cost of administering and operating the natural resource information system and other digital library services among state agencies and private commercial entities

2017 Legislature

  • SB 261 decreased the Montana State Library general fund appropriation by $1.3 million over the biennium.  The proprietary appropriation was increased by a like amount over the biennium

2015 Legislature

  • There was an increase of general fund for a new position to operate the Montana Water Information System.  This had been previously funded as a one-time-only appropriation

2013 Legislature

  • The Base Map Service Center was transferred to the Montana State Library from the Department of Administration.  This move had been recommended by the executive.  This added 2.50 FT and $1.9 million state special revenue to the MSL.  It reduced funding in the Department of Administration by a similar amount

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Legislative Studies

Fixed Costs for Montana State Library

911 State Special Revenue Funding for Digital Library Services


Audit Reports

Financial Compliance Audit - Montana State Library Commission - April 2020



HB 2

HB 13 and fiscal note and amendments

HB 95  Revise ethics laws related to confidentiality 

HB 135  Provide for interim committee review of agency rules prior to adoption

HB 159, Revise Governor’s power to spend certain unanticipated federal funds

SB 36  Code Commissioner bill

SB 57, Revising laws related to reports to the legislature

SB 110, Revise state employee and U-System health plan laws for temp state share holiday


HB 50 Redistribute 9-1-1 funding to the state library 

Agency profile information provided by the Legislative Fiscal Division.

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