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Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards


The New York State Library Division of Library Development and the Public Library System Directors Organization (PULISDO) Public Library Minimum Standards Guide Work Group created this publication, Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards, as a guide for librarians, library directors, trustees, and library system personnel in understanding the why, what and how of each standard.

Success for all libraries, with improved service for library users, is one of the highest priorities of both the New York State Library Division of Library Development and PUSLISDO.  This publication, previously revised in 2002, addresses how library boards and directors can achieve both the letter and the spirit of the minimum public library standards. 

The revised Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards covers amendments to existing standards and information about three new minimum library standards that were adopted by the Board of Regents in July 2018. Standards were last updated over twenty years ago, and amendments and additions were necessary to update and clarify language related to the existing standards and reflect changes in governance, technology and library use that have occurred over the last twenty years. Major amendments include:

  • Updates to the standards related to library bylaws, a long-range plan, an annual report, annual budget, and the evaluation of programs, services, and collections.
  • Addition of language to the existing standards to clarify that current information about the library, its governance and its services should be available to the community in both print and online.
  • Addition of language to the existing standard about maintaining a library facility that addresses community needs and to clarify the need for adequate data infrastructure.
  • Updates to the current language in the standard related to providing equipment, technology and internet connectivity to address community needs, to include the need for a circulation system that facilitates access to the local library collection and other library catalogs.
  • Addition of three new standards — one related to library programming, one related to annual technology training for library staff, and one related to establishing and maintaining partnerships with other education, cultural and community organizations.
  • Providing for a two-year implementation period to allow libraries sufficient time to obtain additional resources or expertise to achieve compliance.

Amendments became effective as a permanent rule on August 1, 2018.  The current standards will expire on December 31, 2020, and all “new” updated standards will take effect as of January 1, 2021.

The Board of Regents sets standards for public and association libraries under Education Law, Section 254.  Registration (Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Section 90.1), which is certified by the State Education Department, means that a chartered (incorporated) library meets the minimum standards (Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Section 90.2) for its size and is thereby qualified to receive and expend state and local public funds. Libraries are registered following Regents incorporation by charter. Once registered, each library provides an annual assurance that minimum standards are met through their annual report to the New York State Library.

We believe that this publication will assist libraries in meeting the minimum standards and provide a framework for system staff in working directly with member libraries.

Members of the Public Library Minimum Standards Guide Work Group

Anja Bouchard, Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System
Mary Beth Farr, New York State Library
Ron Kirsop, Pioneer Library System
Jane Minotti, New York State Library
Frank Rees, New York State Library
Grace Riario, Ramapo Catskill Library System
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Mid-Hudson Library System
Amanda Travis, Onondaga County Public Library
Emma Trevena, New York State Library
Mary Anne Waltz (Work Group Leader), New York State Library