Public Library Accreditation

The 2021-2023 accreditation cycle brings a new framework for the accreditation of public libraries in the Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS). The previous framework drew from the 2016 Standards for Kansas Public Libraries, but gradually lost its ability to challenge member libraries. All libraries are encouraged to download and review the 2020 Standards for Kansas Public Libraries. Many of the elements of these standards may be found in the new framework for NEKLS accreditation.

The new Library Development Accreditation Program (“Program”) framework challenges public libraries to stretch and grow in response to needs within their unique communities.

  • All public libraries are encouraged to participate in the Program. Accreditation certificates will be awarded to libraries upon approval of accreditation applications and NEKLS will issue a press release to the library that may be shared locally.
  • The Program is a requirement for those eligible libraries applying for a Library Development Grant or any other grant offered by the System.
  • A library may choose to apply for accreditation at the level of service it deems to be appropriate for its community. Standards are intended to apply to the main or central library location in libraries operating multiple branch libraries.
  • Libraries wishing to be accredited will submit an application each year. Eligibility for Library Development Grants or any other grants offered by the System requires successful achievement of Tier I Standards and Service Level Standards within the desired accreditation level.
  • Libraries must achieve the Tier I Standards and the Service Level Standards appropriate for their service level. Libraries achieving 14 of 18 Tier II Library Standards are recognized as a “Library of Distinction” within their service level.
  • Libraries may request a waiver of any Tier I Standards or Service Level Standards. For 2021, libraries may also request a waiver for any Tier II Standard: #77, #78, #79, or #80. The System Director will consider requests for waivers and decisions may be appealed to the Executive Board of the Northeast Kansas Library System. NEKLS may grant a waiver in order to provide libraries sufficient time to achieve a standard that is “in process.” When requesting a waiver, libraries must provide a proposed timeline for achieving the standard.
  • NEKLS staff will audit accreditation applications and supporting materials as needed.

Some standards reference 2021-2023 NEKLS Accreditation Standards: Best Practices as an additional resource. This document is a work in progress. It may be accessed here: