The Kansas City Public Library was established by the Kansas City Board of Education in 1873, and remained under the jurisdiction of that Board until 1988 when the Library became an independent institution. The Library boundaries and tax base encompass a constituency of 257,940. Reciprocal and contractual use agreements with neighboring library districts and institutions, remote access to the Library's on-line databases, interlibrary loan and document delivery have made Kansas City Public Library's resources available beyond the metropolitan area.
Demographically, the Library District (which includes the city's central core) consists of 58% Caucasian, 38% African American, 4% Hispanic and less than 1% other. Median income within the Library District is $22,535. The Library system consists of a central library, nine branches, and an Outreach Services program. Two of the branches are located outside the city limits.
In addition to providing library services to the residents of the tax district, the Library serves as a resource for the 1.7 million metropolitan residents of greater Kansas City. Greater Kansas City, crossing a state line and encompassing seven counties, consists of 84% Caucasian, 13% African American, 2% Hispanic and 1% other ethnic groups and the median family income is $33,485.
The Kansas City Public Library Collection Development Plan is designed to inform the public and guide professional staff about the principles and criteria upon which resource selections are made and retained. A policy cannot replace the judgment of staff responsible for the selection of print, non-print and electronic resources but stating priorities and indicating boundaries will assist them in choosing what best meets the needs of the community while maintaining budgetary responsibility.