Logan Co. (ECWd) –
Every attorney worth their salt, as well as those familiar with public libraries, have been amazed to hear how the Atlanta Public Library District also operates a Museum that runs a restaurant. Amazed because they could not point to any statute that would allow such an activity.
I submitted a FOIA request and asked for “A copy of the State Statute that allows the Atlanta Public Library to operate a museum.”
Their response….LOL, sorry, trying to keep the coffee in my mouth…LOL
“Please refer to 75 ILCS 16/30-55.100 for part 2 of your request.”
Note that my request was for a statute that permitted them to “operate” a museum. What do you suppose they sent me? Exactly what I thought they would, which is why I put my coffee cup down and cleared my mouth before continuing! LOL
(75 ILCS 16/30-55.100) Historical museum or library. The board may participate in maintaining a historical museum or library located in the district. (Source: P.A. 87-1277.)
Anyone see that keyword? “participate – join in, get involved in, share in, play a part/role in, be a participant in, partake in, have a hand in, be associated with.”
So exactly what historical museum was located in the district? Who is this library participating with in maintaining the museum? Note it does not say you can take library tax money and operate a museum. It specifically gives them the power to participate in maintaining one located in the district. “Maintaining” indicates it was present in some capacity and the Library can participate in maintaining it with those who are operating it.
It does not mean they were given the power to create a museum and operate it. How do we know? Had the legislature wanted the library to have such power they would have put that language in the statute, which they did not.
(75 ILCS 16/1-10) Sec. 1-10. Establishment of districts and libraries. To provide local public institutions of general education for citizens of Illinois, library districts and libraries may be established, equipped, and maintained by the board pursuant to this Act.
Note that the power given to Library Districts is silent on establishing and equipping a museum. What is telling, the statute they provided allowing “participation” in maintaining a museum was written and put into law with the original language of Section 1-10. So it is clear, the legislature intended for the Library to have the power to participate in maintaining a historical museum but gave no such power for them to establish one or equip one with Library District Tax money.
There are two prevailing statutes when it comes to Libraries and Museums. The Library District Act and the Museum District Act. Each is considered their own public body. Libraries have trustees while Museum Districts have commissioners. It takes two to participate………and it takes the law in order to operate.
To date, we have found no such law that allows the people to be taxed for a library that is also operating a museum on its own………………….that runs a restaurant. More on the restaurant later.
We welcome any supporting law that allows Atlanta Public Library District Trustees to establish, equip and maintain a museum independent of a Museum District or established Historical Museum located in the District.
We have found legislation in the Park District statute that permits the building and operation of a museum by the Park Districts through the power vested that incorporates all the powers in the Aquariums and Museums in Public Parks Act.
(70 ILCS 1205/8-3) (from Ch. 105, par. 8-3) All park districts shall retain and be vested with all power and authority contained in an act entitled “An Act concerning Aquariums and Museums in Public Parks,” approved June 17, 1898, as amended.
Park districts have broad powers, and they could, in fact, operate a museum and supporting operations for the museum. They were given the power; Libraries were not!