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September 22, 2021
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Announces $14 Million for 135 Public Library Construction Projects Statewide

The State Education Department awarded $14 million to 135 public libraries and systems statewide to support construction and renovation projects, Commissioner Betty A. Rosa 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.

“Libraries have been instrumental during the pandemic, providing innovative and relevant ways to meet the needs of the communities they serve,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “These important funds enable libraries to improve the infrastructures necessary to support a lasting expansion of equitable and accessible services that New York’s libraries provide.”

“Libraries play an integral role in their communities and it’s critical to ensure the necessary resources to improve library facilities at this unprecedented time of need,” Commissioner Rosa said. “With these funds, our wonderful librarians and staff will be better equipped to help close the digital divide with the necessary infrastructure and accessibility improvements that make urgently important services available to all.”

Project activities eligible for awards include financing broadband infrastructure projects, 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, the purchase and installation of alternative energy sources, new HVAC systems, windows, doors and lighting systems; electrical upgrades; and construction of new or replacement of walkways and parking lots. New furniture, shelving and equipment, including computer equipment, can be purchased for new or newly renovated space. 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.

Awards by region are below:

Awards by Region
Region Total Award Amount

Capital Region


Central New York


Finger Lakes


Long Island




Mohawk Valley


New York City


North Country


Southern Tier


Western New York



A complete list of funded projects is available on the State Library’s website.

Senate Libraries Committee Chair Sean M. Ryan said, “New York’s Public Library Construction Aid program provides critical funding for libraries throughout our state, and its effects are far-reaching. When we invest in libraries, we invest in our communities. Infrastructure investments like these help ensure that libraries in every part of our state can continue to provide a wide range of essential services to the people of New York and, in many cases, serve as cornerstones of their communities.”

Assembly Libraries and Education Technology Committee Chair Kimberly Jean-Pierre said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored just how vital our public libraries are for the viability of our local communities, and New York's library construction program is an essential component to ensuring our libraries can make the appropriate system upgrades they need without the cost burden falling on local taxpayers. As Chair of the Assembly's Libraries and Education Technology Committee, I am thankful to my legislative colleagues for working with me to ensure that this program receives even more funding for the 2021-22 fiscal year. I thank Commissioner Rosa and the entire Department of Education for awarding these critical funds to so many deserving entities across our great state, and I strongly encourage all of our public libraries and library systems to apply for the next round of library construction funding so that we can continue to upgrade outdated library infrastructure and continue moving our communities forward."

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 for final review and approval.

The $14 million in capital funds for State Aid for Library Construction are provided in the 2020-21 Enacted State Budget. In the 2021-22 State Budget, $34 million was provided for projects that will be announced in summer 2022. The deadline to submit an application for that funding to the New York State Library is October 6, 2021.