What is a “special district” library?

learnmoreThere is a lot of buzz about “special district” legislation and the Governor’s veto of this legislation. But what exactly is a special district public library you might ask?

First, let’s define a “district” public library: “….a public library district is a public library which has a process that requires: (a) public election of its trustees; (b) the library to secure 60 percent or more of its operating revenue through a public budget vote; and (c) the library to ensure financial accountability by presenting annually to appropriate funding agencies, and the public, a written budget which would enable the library to meet or exceed the minimum standards (see 90.2) and to carry out its long-range plan of service.” [Source: What is a Public Library District?, NYS Division of Library Development]

A “special” district library is one that has legislation created to help bring it into existence, the legislation is passed at the state level to authorize the local voters of the potential district, those that are to be served by the library, to vote on whether or not to

  • create the district
  • approve the tax levy to fund the district
  • elect the trustees that will govern the library district

From the “Creating Public Library Districts in New York State: a “how-to” guide“:

Advantages of the Special Legislative District Public Library Model

  • The service area of a Special Legislative District Public Library can be freely drawn to meet the specific needs of the library. This allows the library to obtain tax support from those people who most often use the library’s services. It also offers the best opportunity to eliminate unserved areas. New proposed service areas should be approved by the New York State Library’s Division of Library Development in advance and should correspond to boundaries of full census blocks, municipalities or school districts.
  • The legislation that creates a Special Legislative District Public Library can provide the library with the ability to raise funds for capital projects by placing a bonding resolution on the ballot.
  • The time and place for the local election to create a Special Legislative District Public Library is specified in the State legislation. In most cases, these elections are scheduled to take place within the existing library.
  • Once a budget to fund a Special Legislative District Public Library is approved by voters, funding will remain at the same level until a subsequent vote changes the amount. This results in much more stable funding for the library.”