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Public Library District Toolkit: Strategies to Assure your Library’s Legal and Financial Stability

Laws Governing Public Libraries in New York State 

All public and association libraries are subject to various parts of the Education Law, Labor Law, Public Officers Law and the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law (including select portions of the NonProfit Revitalization Act), as well as numerous other New York State laws governing the conduct of corporations, both public and private; a compelling reason for the Library to retain knowledgeable legal counsel.

Public libraries, those considered to be municipal, school district or special legislative district libraries, are subject to several laws, regulations and policies designed to protect the public interest that association libraries are not subject to. Most notable of these include:

  • Civil Service Law (Job titles, examinations, due process)
  • General Municipal Law (Bidding and Procurement; Conflicts of Interest)
  • Labor Law (Hour & Wage, Safety and “Wicks Law”)
  • Public Officers Law (Indemnification, Open Meetings, Oath of Office and Freedom of Information Law (FOIL))
  • Office of the State Comptroller’s Policies and Procedures (Accounting standards, investments, internal financial controls, etc.)

Boards are strongly advised to solicit the assistance of their public library system and seek the advice of legal counsel well versed in education and municipal law.

For additional summary information on the applicability of various laws to public libraries, see Excerpts from New York State Law and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education pertaining to Libraries, Library Systems, Trustees and Librarians or Public Library Law in New York Stateexternal link opens in a new window.