The legislative body of any county and/or the governing body of any incorporated city or town has the power to establish and maintain a free public library, give support to any free public library already in existence, contract with another library for library service for its citizens, or enter into contractual agreements with one or more counties or cities for joint operation of a free public library. T.C.A. § 10-3-101 et seq. To fund these services a county may levy a property tax or may use funds raised for general county or municipal purposes. Libraries established under these statutes must be free to all inhabitants of the county and/or city; the city or county may allow use of the library by those residing outside its territorial boundaries upon such terms as it may deem proper. T.C.A. § 10-3-107.
If two (2) or more counties have qualified for participation in the state's multicounty regional library program, have been recognized as a region by the State Library and Archives Management Board, and have made the minimum local appropriation of funds required by the management board, then they may execute contracts with each other to create a regional library board to administer the library services within the region. The State Library and Archives Management Board manages regional libraries, whose employees are employees of the state. After the governing body of a county authorizes participation, municipalities within the county may also participate in the regional library service as long as the county participates. Larger single counties may also constitute a region upon recognition by the State Library and Archives Management Board by executing a contract between the county and one (1) or more cities within the county. T.C.A. § 10-5-101. The formation and creation of these boards is not mandatory for any county. T.C.A. § 10-5-107.