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[NOTE: Updated per Chapter 389 of the Laws of 2015]
§ 255. Establishment of a public library. 1. By a majority vote at any election, or at a meeting of the electors duly held, any county, city, village, town, school district or other body authorized to levy and collect taxes; or by vote of its board of supervisors or other governing elective body any county, or by vote of its common council or by action of a board of estimate and apportionment or other proper authority any city, or by vote of its board of trustees any village, or by vote of its town board any town, or any combination of such voting bodies, may individually or jointly authorize the establishment of a public library with or without branches, and may appropriate money raised by tax or otherwise to equip and maintain such library or libraries or to provide a building or rooms for its or their use. Any such municipality or district may acquire real or personal property for library purposes by gift, grant, devise, bequest or condemnation and may take, buy, sell, hold and transfer either real or personal property for public library purposes. Whenever twenty-five taxpayers shall so petition, the question of providing library facilities shall be voted on at the next election or meeting at which taxes may be voted, provided that due public notice of the proposed action shall have been given. Whenever the electors of a school district at a district meeting duly held shall have authorized the establishment of a public library under the provisions of this section, at such meeting or at any subsequent meeting duly held, they may determine by a majority of the voters present and voting on the proposition to levy a tax to be collected in installments for the purchase or condemnation of a site and the erection thereon of a library building or the erection of a library building on land acquired otherwise than by purchase or condemnation, or for the purchase of land and a suitable building thereon and make necessary alterations and additions and equip such building for use as a library. 2. Upon the request of a majority of the members of the boards of trustees of two or more libraries chartered by the regents, if it shall appear to the satisfaction of the commissioner that the establishment of a cooperative library system will result in improved and expanded library service to the area and that the area is suitable for the establishment of such a cooperative library system, the commissioner may call a joint meeting of the trustees of such libraries for the purpose of determining whether a cooperative library system shall be established and electing a board of trustees of such cooperative library system. If it shall appear to the commissioner that the area proposed for the cooperative library system is not sufficient to warrant the establishment of such system; that such area is not otherwise suitable or that for sufficient other reason such cooperative library system as proposed should not be established he shall disapprove such request. a. Notice of such meeting shall be given by the commissioner to each trustee by mail to his last known address at least five days prior to such meeting. At such meeting the board of trustees of each library participating shall have five votes. b. Such meeting shall be called to order by the person designated by the commissioner and shall thereupon organize by the election of a chairman. At such meeting a resolution in substantially the following form shall be presented for the action of the meeting: "Resolved that a cooperative library system be established consisting of the following libraries chartered by the regents ............... (name libraries) for the purpose of expanding and improving library service in the area served by the above named libraries." c. If the resolution described above is adopted, then the meeting shall proceed to elect a board of trustees of such library system to consist of not less than five nor more than twenty-five members as determined by the meeting. d. Within one month after taking office, the trustees-elect shall apply to the regents for a charter as a cooperative library system. e. The board of trustees shall manage and control such cooperative library system and shall have all the powers of trustees of other educational institutions in the university as defined in this chapter. Such board shall elect a president, secretary and treasurer. Before entering upon his duties, such treasurer shall execute and file with the trustees an official undertaking in such sum and with such sureties as the board shall direct and approve. The treasurer need not be a member of such board. The funds of the cooperative library system shall be deposited in a bank or banks designated by the board of trustees and shall be expended only under the direction of such trustees upon properly authenticated vouchers. f. The term of office of trustees shall be either three or five years except that the members of the first board of trustees shall determine by lot the year in which the term of office of each trustee shall expire so that as nearly as possible the terms of either one-third or one-fifth of the members of such board will expire annually. Thereafter, the successors of such trustees shall be elected annually by a meeting of the trustees of the participating libraries in the cooperative library system. Where the term of office of a trustee is five years, no trustee shall hold office consecutively for more than two full five year terms and where the term of office of a trustee is three years, no trustee shall hold office consecutively for more than three full three year terms. Provided further, however, years served by a trustee appointed to fill an unexpired term shall not count towards the term limit. Such meeting shall be called by the secretary of the cooperative library system who shall give notice to all the trustees of participating libraries in the manner provided in subparagraph a of this subdivision for giving notice of the meeting to authorize the establishment of such cooperative library system. Within one month after approving a change in the length of the term of office of trustees, the trustees shall apply to the regents for an amendment to the charter of the cooperative library system. Such change in the length of the term of office of trustees shall not take effect until such charter amendment is approved by the regents. Any cooperative library system that changes the length of the term of office of trustees pursuant to this paragraph, may appoint an individual for a shorter term in order to ensure that as nearly as possible, an equal number of trustees shall be elected to the board each year, with the trustees assigned such shorter terms determined by lot, and provided further that the term of office of each incumbent member of the board shall not be decreased thereby. g. A contract may be entered into between the board of trustees of a cooperative library system and the department under which the state library will provide services, facilities and staff to the cooperative library system upon terms agreed upon by and between the parties to such contract. h. Nothing herein contained shall be deemed to deprive any participating library of its property. i. The board of trustees of any library chartered by the regents which is not participating in a cooperative library system may adopt a resolution requesting that such library become a participating library in a cooperative library system. Duplicate copies of such resolution certified by the clerk of such board of trustees shall be filed with the board of trustees of the cooperative library system. If such board approve such resolution such approval shall be endorsed thereon and a copy thereof shall be filed with the commissioner. Upon such resolution being approved by the commissioner such additional library shall become a participating library in such system and shall have the same rights, duties and privileges as other libraries participating therein. j. The participating libraries in such library system shall be those libraries, members of the boards of trustees of which join in petitioning the commissioner to call the meeting for the establishment of the cooperative library system pursuant to this section, and who are named in the resolution voted upon by such meeting and in the charter of the library system. k. The board of trustees of each public library system shall meet no fewer than six times a year. 3. Trustees of a reference and research library resources system shall have those powers set forth in section two hundred twenty-six of this article with respect to trustees of corporations chartered by the regents, and in addition shall have the following powers and duties: a. The board of trustees of a reference and research library resources system shall include at least one representative of each constituent public library system, at least one representative of the member academic library with the largest collection, and at least two nonlibrarians from the research community served by the system. b. The term of office of trustees shall be five years except that the members of the first board of trustees shall determine by lot the year in which the term of office of each trustee shall expire so that as nearly as possible the terms of one-fifth of the members of such board will expire annually. Thereafter, the successors of such trustees shall be elected annually by a meeting of the designated representatives of the member institutions participating in the reference and research library resources system. No trustee shall hold office consecutively for more than two full terms. Such annual meeting shall be called by the secretary of the reference and research library resources system who shall give notice to all the participating libraries by mail at least five days prior to such meeting. c. The board of trustees shall meet no fewer than six times a year. 4. By a majority vote of the tribal government of an Indian reservation, or upon the request of the tribal government of an Indian reservation, an Indian library may be established, with or without branches, and may make application to the state or other source for money to equip and maintain such library or libraries or to provide a building or rooms for its uses. Notwithstanding the provisions of section seven of the Indian law, the board of trustees of such library, on behalf of the tribal government, may acquire real or personal property for use by an Indian library by gift, grant, devise, bequest and may take, buy, sell, hold and transfer either real or personal property for the purposes of such library. No more than one Indian library may be established on a reservation and such library shall serve all inhabitants of that reservation. No such library shall be established on any reservation that has fewer than three hundred permanent residents and one thousand acres of land. 5. The boards of trustees of any two, or more, public libraries, Indian libraries, reference and research library resources systems, cooperative library systems, or association libraries, as defined in this article, may pool surplus funds to be used for the purchase of certificates of deposit in any bank or trust company, provided that such certificate of deposit be secured by a pledge of obligations of the United States of America, or any obligation fully guaranteed or insured as to interest and principal by the United States of America acting through an agency, subdivision, department or division thereof, or obligations of the state of New York. Each participating public library, Indian library, reference and research library resources system, cooperative library system or association library shall be entitled to its pro-rata share of interest earned on such certificates in proportion to its contribution to the purchase price of such certificates. 6. The board of trustees of any two, or more, public libraries, public library systems, reference and research library resources systems, as defined in this chapter, shall have the power to enter into, amend, cancel and terminate agreements for performance among themselves or one for the other of their respective functions, for the purpose of cooperatively advertising and awarding bids for equipment, supplies and services, provided: a. such advertising and awards have been made in accordance with the requirements of article five-A of the general municipal law; b. the purchasing and making of contracts shall be subject to general laws applicable thereto; and c. that any such agreements shall include a manner of responding for any liabilities that might be incurred in the operation of the joint service or agreement.
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