The Joplin Public Library District was established in 1902 when the citizens of Joplin voted a 10¢ tax levy to operate a public library.  A Carnegie Foundation grant of $40,000 paid for the construction of a library building at 9th Street and Wall Avenue.  In 1980 the present building at 300 S. Main Street was constructed at a cost of approximately $2,000,000.  The new library building was opened to the public in May 1981.  In 1995 the building was remodeled and expanded to create the Rosemary Titus Reynolds Children’s Library, which was dedicated in March 1996.  The building, which covers approximately 35,000 square feet, is fully handicapped-accessible.

As the largest public library between Springfield and Tulsa, the Joplin Public Library District attracts users from the entire tri-state area.  The collection includes approximately 100,000 items in print and non-print format.  The Library is open 66 hours a week, including evenings and Saturday and Sunday.  The Library automated all circulation and technical processing operations in 1992 with federal funding under the Library Services and Construction Act.  Off-site dial-in access, also federally funded, became available in 1995, and the following year the Library started offering free Internet access to patrons.  In 1999, the Library introduced its Web site and provided access to its catalog on the Internet.

The Joplin Public Library District is funded primarily by a combination of real estate taxes and commercial surtaxes.  Library-generated revenues and a city general fund subsidy also support the Library’s operations.  In 1993 Joplin voters approved an increase in the library levy from 9¢ to 20¢ per $100 valuation. In 2006 Joplin voters approved an increase in the library levy. For Fiscal Year 2012 the levy is $.2545. 

The Joplin Public Library District is a Special District, as are all Library Districts in Missouri.  In Jasper County, the Library District includes all property within the Joplin city limits.  If the city annexes property in Jasper County, the library district expands to include all annexed property.  In Newton County, the Library District includes only that portion of the City of Joplin which was within the city limits on October 13, 1965.  Annexations of Newton County property by the City of Joplin after this date have not extended the Joplin Public Library District because a municipal library may not extend its boundaries into an existing county library district.  (RSMo 182.480)  However, for the purposes of this document, all residents of the City of Joplin are considered to be residents of the Joplin Public Library District and entitled to full library service.


The mission of the Joplin Public Library District shall be to:

  • Provide for the recreational needs of its patrons by supporting leisure time activities through the provision of Library materials and services.
  • Provide for the collective and individual information needs of its patrons by selecting, acquiring, cataloging, organizing, and distributing information and materials.
  • Provide for the cultural enhancement of individual patrons and the Joplin community by providing materials and attendant activities that foster understanding of the development of international, national, community, and individual heritage and lifestyle.
  • Provide for the continuing educational needs of its patrons by supporting learning beyond that required for attaining academic degrees or meeting job qualifications by providing materials that enhance daily life, personal interests, and job performance.

The Joplin Public Library recognizes the impact of technology, specifically electronic communication and information, upon the Joplin community.  The Library strives to identify, to retrieve, to organize, and to provide access to technology in its various formats.
In fulfilling its mission, the Joplin Public Library fully supports the principle of freedom of expression and the public’s right to know.  The Library will foster an atmosphere of free inquiry and provide information without bias or discrimination.


The Library provides a variety of services to its patrons.  These services include:

  1. Books, magazines, and newspapers
  2. Videotapes and DVDs
  3. Music CDs
  4. Books on CD, audiotape, and Playaways
  5. Downloadable e-books and audiobooks
  6. Computer software
  7. Large print materials, closed-captioned and descriptive videos, and other materials and equipment for the sight or hearing impaired.
  8. Photocopiers and microform reader-printers
  9. Storytimes and summer reading programs for children
  10. Storytimes and summer reading programs for children, teens, and adults
  11. Public use computers, typewriters, and fax service
  12. Internet access and electronic reference tools
  13. Telephone directories, auto repair manuals, and career development materials
  14. Local history and genealogy collection and microfilm census records
  15. Programs, tours, and speakers
  16. Interlibrary loan
  17. Meeting rooms


Board of Trustees

The Library is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees whose members are appointed by the Joplin City Council.  The Board of Trustees (hereafter referred to as the Board) establishes goals and objectives and adopts rules, policies, and regulations for the governance of the Library.  The Board has complete authority, within legal limits, over the Library budget.

Library Director

The Library Director is appointed by the Board and is the chief executive and administrative officer of the Library.  The Library Director is responsible to the Board for the proper administration of all Library affairs.

Library Departments

The Library is divided into eight administrative departments under the direction of individual Department Heads.  Department Heads are responsible to the Library Director for the daily operation of the departments.  Employees within each department answer to the Department Head.  Library Departments and their general areas of responsibility are:

  1. Administration:  Personnel, Finance, Maintenance, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Fixed Asset Inventory, Public Relations.  The Library Director serves as the Administration Department Head.
  2. Technical Services:  Cataloging, Processing, Mending, Bibliographic Control, Weeding.
  3. Reference:  Adult Reference, Interlibrary Loan, Local History and Genealogy, Bibliographic Instruction, Periodicals, Microforms, Collection Management, Materials Inventory.
  4. Circulation:  Circulation of materials, Overdues, Patron Registration, Reserves, Collection Inventory, Stacks Maintenance, Page Supervision, Displays.
  5. Children’s Services:  Children’s Reference, Storytimes, Summer Reading Program, Children’s Programming, Collection Management, Materials Inventory.
  6. Collection Development:  Collection Development, Acquisitions.
  7. Information Services: Systems Management, Computer Lab, Hardware and Software Inventory and Maintenance Responsibility.
  8. Teen Services: Teen Reference, Summer Reading Program, Teen Programming, Collection Management and Materials Inventory.


A. Missouri Public Library Standards

The Joplin Public Library accepts the Missouri Public Library Standards as the minimum standard for all Library operations, services and staffing.  The policies in this manual are designed to meet or exceed the standards, which were adopted by the Missouri Library Association in 1997 and presented to public libraries for implementation by the Missouri Secretary of State in December 1999.

B. Library Roles

The Library defines its primary role in the community as having four main functions:

  1. Popular Materials Center
  2. Preschooler’s Door to Learning
  3. General, Consumer, and Business Information
  4. Independent (lifelong) Learning Center

Library Plan of Service

  1. The Library will provide hours of service during regular business hours, evenings, and weekends.  The Library is currently open 66 hours a week.  The Library is committed to providing full service during all hours the building is open to the public.
  2. The Joplin Public Library District serves the general public and considers its patrons to be all those residents of the library district whose needs can be met by general library services.  The populations specifically targeted by the Library include:  preschool age children; adults out of school; senior citizens; recreational readers, listeners and viewers; and the business community.  The Library does not provide curricular support for public or private schools, institutions of higher education, or homeschooling.
  3. The Library’s range of services will include:

    a. Circulation of materials in formats currently usable by the general public.

    b. Full reference service and open access by patrons to the resources of the reference collection.

    c. Children’s, teen, and adult programming, including regularly scheduled storytimes for the general public and special storytime sessions for organized groups, as well as an organized Summer Reading Program.

    d. Patron access to on-line and other electronic resources, including word processing and spreadsheet applications.  The Library has installed filters on all public use computers in the Library in compliance with both federal and state law.  Patrons of any age may use the computers in the Adult Department, but the computers in the Children’s Department are reserved for those patrons age 12 and younger, and do not provide Internet access.  Computers in the Teen Department are reserved for teens, patrons in grades 6-12, and do not provide Internet access. They are available for word processing and other office applications, games, music and movies.

    e. Photocopy, microfilm copy, scanning and fax service for the public.

    f. Meeting rooms at no charge to not-for-profit agencies and other groups needing meeting facilities for non-commercial purposes.

    g. Meeting rooms for a nominal fee for commercial groups as outlined in Section Ten, I of policy manual.


  • The Library Bill of Rights is a policy statement of the American Library Association, adopted 1946, amended 1967 and 1980.  It was originally adopted by the Joplin Public Library District Board of Trustees in 1981.
  • The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
    1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.  Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or view of those contributing to their creation.
    2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.  Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
    3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
    4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
    5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
    6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
  • The Library also supports the American Library Association policies included in the appendices at the end of this policy manual.


A. Post Memorial Art Reference Library

The Library building contains the Post Memorial Art Reference Library, an independent agency.  The Post Library is a privately endowed art reference library housed in a separate wing of the building.  The Post Library is governed by its own board of directors.  The operation of the Post Library is not governed by any policies established by the Joplin Public Library District except those specifically adopted by the Post Board.  Library employees do not work in or for the Post Library.

B. Joplin Library Foundation

The Joplin Library Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated for the purpose of raising funds and accepting gifts and bequests for the betterment of the Library. 

C. Margaret Hager Book Committee

The Margaret Hager Trust, established when a former library director bequeathed her estate to the Library, is administered by the Board. According to the provisions of Ms. Hager’s will, the interest generated by the trust is used to buy materials for the Library.  Materials purchased by the trust are chosen in the same manner as other Library materials.