Free Direct Access

Free Direct Access and the Regents Commission on Libraries

December 19, 1997

The State Education Department issued the following news release regarding actions of the Board of Regents concerning "free direct access" and the Regents Commission on Library Services. More information on the content of the "free direct access" recommendations an on the charge to the Regents commission on Library Services will be posted on NYLINE and sent to libraries and library systems in the next few weeks.

State Librarian Janet Welch says, "We hope to receive comments from a broad spectrum of library users, municipal officials, librarians, library trustees and other interested persons to help us revise "free direct access" regulations."


The Board of Regents approved the release of recommendations on "free direct access" to libraries for public comments.

At a meeting held in Albany today, the Board of Regents released recommendations for regulatory changes that ensure free direct access to public library services. The goal of these changes is to provide relief to libraries being over-burdened by non-resident borrowing, while preserving the concept of library service for all without direct charges to individual users.


The following goals and strategies are recommended to improve the effectiveness of "free direct access":

  1. Insure library service for all New Yorkers.
    • Reaffirm the Regents commitment to library service without direct charge to the individual
  2. Remedy inequities
    • Charge a Regents Commission on Library Service to find ways to ensure high-quality library service for all communities.
  3. Reduce burdens on overused libraries.
    • Allow flexibility for library systems to respond to local patterns of use and to modify "free direct access" at the system level.
    • Provide a procedure for waivers when remedies are needed outside of those listed in regulation.


The following are next steps in the process to revise the free direct access regulations:

  1. The recommendations will be distributed to libraries, library systems, municipal officials and library users for comments.
  2. The State Librarian and other State Education Department staff members will hold meetings throughout the State to solicit comments.
  3. Based on comments, proposals for changes in the regulations will be revised and forwarded to the Regents for discussion and a vote.


The Regents Commission on Library Services will develop and recommend to the Regents a vision for library service to the people of New York State and a plan to ensure equal access to information for all New Yorkers. This will be the first broad examination of library services in New York State by a special commission since 1981.

Members of the Commission will include prominent citizens, users of libraries and library leaders. There will be 12 voting members. Commission members will develop recommendations and will serve as advocates for libraries and for the implementation of their recommendations.

The goal of the Regents Commission on Library Services will be to ensure that all communities within New York State have quality library service. Among the tasks with which the Commission will be charged, one of the most fundamental will be to examine and develop recommendations to address the underlying inequities in library service regarding "free direct access". The Commission will develop its recommendations for library services for lifelong learning in the context of radical change in the production, transmission, handling and use of information.


Last Updated: July 8, 2009