Types of Public Libraries: A Comparison

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Types of Public Libraries
  Association
Library
Municipal
Public Library
School District
Public Library
Special District
Public Library
How Established By vote of association members or as trustees operating under a will or deed of trust. By vote of county, city, town or village board; or by petition and referendum. By vote of school district voters. By special act of State legislature and vote of special district voters.*
Charter Regents incorporate by charter. Regents incorporate by charter. Regents incorporate by charter. Regents incorporate by charter.
Registration Education Department registers. Must meet minimum standards in order to receive public funds. Education Department registers. Must meet minimum standards in order to receive public funds. Education Department registers. Must meet minimum standards in order to receive public funds. Education Department registers. Must meet minimum standards in order to receive public funds.
Tax Funds May receive appropriation from units of government. Also tax levy by vote of municipal or school district voters. Library should sign contract with appropriating unit. May petition municipal and/or school district taxpayers for funds. Budget approved by county, city, town, or village board. Also tax levy by vote of municipal or school district voters. May petition municipal and/or school district taxpayers for funds. Budget approved by school district voters. May also petition for a tax levy from municipalities. Budget approved by district voters. May also petition for a tax levy from municipalities, unless enactment legislation specifies otherwise.
Bonding Authority Not permitted. Requires a special act of legislation through Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) Municipal government may bond if it owns the library building. School district may bond on behalf of the library, if school district or library owns the library building. A municipality may bond on behalf of district if legislation allows.*
Board of Trustees Number: 5-25. Elected by association members. Term of office: set by charter.

Responsible to association membership and to Regents. Residential requirements may be established in bylaws.
Number: 5-15. Approved by municipal governing board; term of office: three or five years if established after 1921.** Responsible to municipal government, public, and Regents. Must be residents of municipality (except village library). Number: 5-15. Elected by school district voters. Term of office: three or five years (if established after 1921).** Responsible to school district voters and Regents. Must be residents of school district. Number: determined by enabling legislation. Elected by residents of special district. Term of office: five years or as defined by legislation. Responsible to special district voters and Regents. Residency requirements determined by enabling legislation.
Community Involvement Public can join association and may vote for trustees. Public "owns" library; votes for elected officials who are sympathetic to library needs. Public "owns" library and votes directly for trustees and budget. Public "owns" library and votes directly for trustees and budget.
Retirement Benefits May purchase retirement benefits from private vendor. Some may be in State Retirement System if specified in statute. State Retirement System benefits through municipality. State Retirement System benefits through school district or independently. State Retirement System benefits if library district opts to participate.
Civil Service Employees not covered by Civil Service. Employees subject to Civil Service Law. Employees subject to Civil Service Law. Employees subject to Civil Service Law.

Notes:

* Special district public libraries are created by act of the New York State Legislature. Each one is different and reflects the particular needs and situation of that district. There is no comprehensive legal definition of a special district public library. SEE ALSO Public Library Districts How-To Kit; New York State Public and Association Libraries; Library Types by Public Library System.

** Became effective January 1, 1999.

Abbreviation Type of Library Abbreviation Type of Library
ACi Association City PCi Public City
ACo Association County PCo Public County
AO Association Other PO Public Other
ASD Association School District PSD Public School District
    PSLD Public Special Legislative District
AT Association Town PT Public Town
AV Association Village PV Public Village

SEE ALSO Find Your Public Library listings.

Last Updated: August 14, 2019 -- sm