The Public Libraries Act from 1998 puts the responsibility for maintaining public libraries on municipal governments. They receive financing from the state for purchases of books etc., for Internet connection, and for costs related to government-initiated programmes. In municipalities with several public libraries, one will act as a central library. In every 1 of the 15 counties, one public library will be used as a regional library. The salaries of four employees of a regional library will be covered by the state. The Estonian National Library fulfils the functions of the parliamentary library, and its work is regulated by a specific Act.
The authors of books borrowed by the library readers have the right for compensation. The amount of compensation is calculated on the basis of how many times the book has been borrowed.
According to the relevant Law (2009), Value Added Tax (VAT) on books and periodicals is 9%, and teaching materials are exempt from tax altogether. Since 2009, the general VAT raised from 18% to 20%.
According to the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act (1994), the state-owned Endowment is comprised of nine departments, one of which gives grants for literature (see also chapter 7.2.3). The Estonian Academy of Sciences may elect eminent writers or artists as its members.
In 2012, the Minister of Culture, Mr. Rein Lang, has introduced a policy of ear-marking 50% of state subsidies to municipal libraries for the purchase of books and journals considered important to Estonian culture. This decision has been widely criticised, as it lessens the libraries’ possibilities to respond to their clients’ demand for popular literature.