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Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards

Maintaining a Facility to Meet Community Needs

Each...library maintains a facility that addresses community needs, as outlined in the library's long-range plan of service, including adequate space, lighting, shelving, seating, power and data infrastructure, and a public restroom.

How Does the Library Determine If the Facility Is Adequate?

The number one resource for creating a facility that meets community needs is to look at the building in the context of the library’s long-range plan. Any building expert would first ask the library director and board, "what are the goals and service plans of the library?" General services planning precedes Facility Planning because it defines the library users, services, and programs of the library. Once these plans are defined, the board, director, and other stakeholders can determine specific space needs, layout, and technical specifications such as wiring for technology, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, compliance with environmental regulations (i.e. asbestos and lead abatement), energy efficiency, and creating spaces that reflect the community. Power infrastructure and data infrastructure are components of the library's long-range plan (Minimum Standard #2), and take into consideration maintenance, upkeep and scheduled repairs of those elements of the facility.

While there are many resources to help determine the facility needs, the final determination of adequacy rests in the hands of the trustees.

  • A long-range plan with clearly articulated mission statement, goals, objectives and an action plan provide a basis for evaluating whether or not a library has a facility which adequately meets community needs.
  • The planning and evaluation process should involve input from staff, members of the community or communities served (including people with physical disabilities), and the board. The process should be conducted in an open, well-publicized manner. This ensures that those paying for and residing in the service area will have a say in, and take ownership of, their library facility. See Standard #2, Long-Range Plan for more information. 
  • A sub-section of the library’s overall long-range plan should include a facility plan that not only looks at the importance of aligning the building with the community’s needs, but also taking into consideration general maintenance, upkeep, and scheduled repairs. The library may find it useful to contact their library system to assist in the development of a facility plan.
  • Care must be taken to provide for a facility which is accessible to the entire community.
  • Where legal mandates (local, State, or Federal) exist, it is the responsibility of the library to be aware of and comply with those requirements.

What Information Should Be Included in a Master Facility Plan?

A Master Facility Plan can include, but is not limited to:

  • Plans for expansions or building acquisitions.
  • Preventative maintenance schedules for major systems such as HVAC, roof, parking lot, elevators/lifts, sidewalks, etc.
  • Making every aspect of the library accessible to all patrons if they are not currently accessible.
  • Planned evaluation of space use in conjunction with library users’ experience/service.
  • Schedule for evaluating safety and security.
  • Development of a Disaster Response Plan.
  • Environmentally sustainable design and consideration for future generations.

How Does A Library Use A Facility Plan?

  • The library board should appoint a Facilities Committee to regularly evaluate and discuss the library building and its upcoming needs/scheduled maintenance.
  • If funding is required to implement projects such as a renovation, expansion, technology infrastructure, and/or new building acquisitions the library may wish to speak to the library system about applying for State Aid for Library Construction funds.  
  • If a ballot measure, such as a bond vote, is required to fund a facility project, the plan should be widely disseminated and used to gain public understanding and support of the project.
  • The Facility Plan should clearly lay out tasks and job responsibilities, timelines, and items completed.
  • Regular action, review, and evaluation of the Facility Plan is needed in order to uphold this standard. 

Where Can the Library Go For Help?

Below are a number of useful resources to guide the library in meeting this standard. One of the first steps is to contact the library system for guidance.

  • Nichols, J., Aldrich, R. S., Public Library System Directors' Organization of New York State, Library Trustees Association of New York State & New York State Library. (2018). Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State.
  • Aldrich, R. S. (2018). Sustainable thinking: Ensuring your library's future in an uncertain world.
  • NYLA Sustainability Initiative
  • Sannwald, W. W. (2016). Checklist of library building design considerations.
  • Schlipf, F. A., & Moorman, J. A. (2018). The practical handbook of library architecture: Creating building spaces that work.
  • Accessible Building Design, Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Jackson Heights, New York, no publication date. Call 1-800-444-0120.

The following resources prescribe specific building standards to ensure access for all persons including those with disabilities: