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August 10, 2018
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Announces $24 Million in State Aid for 230 Public Library Construction Projects Statewide

The State Education Department awarded $24 million in state aid to 230 public libraries statewide for construction and renovation projects, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. These funds help libraries construct new buildings, create additions, update electrical wiring and computer technology, improve broadband infrastructure, meet energy efficiency standards, renovate facilities to provide full accessibility to library users with disabilities, and provide meeting spaces to accommodate community needs.

“New York’s libraries are in urgent need of renovation and upgrading to meet the increasing needs of the children, families and adults they serve every day,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “These funds are not just investments in our public libraries but investments in our communities.”

“Public libraries support communities in many ways – from providing early childhood programs, summer reading programs and afterschool activities to helping job-seekers find employment and offering internet access to the community,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “That’s why it’s so important to invest in our libraries across the state. The Board of Regents and I thank the Governor and the State Legislature for committing these funds so libraries across New York can improve and update their facilities to better meet the needs of students, adults, and families.”

Awards range from $2,626 to $3 million. A complete list of funded projects is available on the State Library’s website. Awards by region are below:

Region Total Award Amount

Capital Region


Central New York


Finger Lakes


Hudson Valley


Long Island


Mohawk Valley


New York City


North Country


Southern Tier


Western New York


“Today, more than ever, we need to support our libraries,” said Senator Carl L. Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “In my visits to our local libraries, I am repeatedly reminded how demand for their services is on the rise. Our libraries make our community a better place to live, and we simply must invest to protect and expand their buildings and programs. These funds will allow for much needed construction and technology upgrades statewide.”

“I would like to thank Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the State Education Department for continuing to make critical investments toward the construction of community libraries throughout the state,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “Our neighborhood libraries serve as lifelines in our communities, and it is vital that we continue to make these investments.” 

“All across New York State, countless people rely on their libraries for books, community events, job searching resources and so much more. That is why I fought to include record funding in the new state budget for library construction upgrades and renovations,” said Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries. “Through these awards, we are ensuring our libraries can not only continue to provide these critical services to patrons, but also improve them and in turn, improve the communities they serve.”

“The role libraries play is more important than ever as our country is facing challenges to internet service neutrality, an upcoming census with anticipated electronic submissions, and a growing desire for community spaces,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Chair of the Assembly Libraries and Education Technology Committee. “The increase in construction aid funding that we were able to secure in this year’s budget will enable libraries to make critical structural and infrastructure improvements to grow their services, increase accessibility and offer the highest quality educational and technological services. Libraries, our most democratic of institutions, support lifelong learning in a safe environment and we must maintain our commitment to them and to our communities.”

Public libraries may apply for an award that could fund up to 75 percent of a project. Project activities eligible for awards include financing construction of new library buildings, construction of additions to existing buildings, and the renovation or rehabilitation of existing space. The projects can include roof replacement, purchase and installation of alternative energy sources and new HVAC systems, windows, doors, and lighting systems, electrical upgrades, and construction of new or replacement of old walkways and parking lots. New furniture, shelving and equipment, including computer equipment, can be purchased for new or newly renovated space. Broadband infrastructure projects are also eligible. Renovations designed to provide accessibility for patrons with disabilities is a high priority. Priority is also given to projects that will extend library services to people residing in geographically isolated and economically disadvantaged communities.

Construction funds are allocated to New York State’s 23 public library systems based on formulas in Education Law. Member libraries apply for the State funds allocated to their public library system. Each library system’s governing Board of Trustees then prioritizes the projects and sends approved project applications with recommended project awards to the State Library. After State Library review, applications are then sent to the Dormitory Authority of New York State (DASNY) for final review and approval.

The state funds are from $24 million in capital funds for State Aid for Library Construction provided in the 2017-18 State Budget. In the 2018-19 State Budget, the Legislature provided $34 million for projects that will be announced in Summer 2019.