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Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards

Written Budget

Each . . . library annually prepares and publishes a board-approved, written budget, which enables the library to address the community’s needs, as outlined in the library’s long-range plan of service.

Why Is Presentation of a Board-Approved Written Budget to the Public Necessary?

  • A written budget request ensures fiscal accountability from the board to the public. It allows for the provision of services necessary to ensure proper functioning of the library.
  • A budget request notifies the funding agency of the fiscal requirements for the library in the coming year so that funds may be properly and timely allocated.
  • A written budget request serves as a barometer for future needs and avoids potential future shortfalls.
  • A written budget request is a powerful advocacy tool notifying the public about the crucial role of the library in the community through the breadth and variety of programs and services provided.

Who Should Prepare the Budget?

Preparation of the budget should be a joint project of the board of trustees and the library director. It is recommended that the budget draft be reviewed by the library treasurer and/or a board finance committee prior to presenting to the full Board.

Helpful Tip: “The best budgets are developed in relationship to the library’s long-range and strategic planning process and include projections for future years.” (Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State, 2018 Edition, pg. 50.)

Helpful Tip: In order to be transparent to community members, the library’s budget should be made readily available for review by any members of the public, both in person at the library and online at all times.

What Should the Budget Include?

Although formats and fiscal year may differ, all library budgets should:

  1. Indicate the resources that will be needed to meet the library's goals and objectives within the time period covered in the document.
  1. Indicate income and expenditure figures based on past experience considering anticipated changes.

The library’s long-range plan should be the foundation for the development of any library budget. Library budgets should contain sufficient expenditure allocations to meet the information and service needs of the community while complying with the NYS Comptroller's guidelines and meeting the minimum standards.

Should Budgets Be Made Available to the Community?

Yes. The current, board-approved budget is required to be publicly available online (See Standard 11: Provides access to current library information) and the library should also have printed copies available for public distribution.  Online and printed budgets provide the community with transparency and accountability about library operations.

Where Can the Library Go for Help?

Contact the library system for assistance.

See the chapter on Budgets and Finance in the Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State.

The Office of the New York State Comptrollers has a useful series of Local Government Management Guides that include technical information and suggested practices for various financial and budgeting topics.