After the Vote

After a successful vote to establish a Special Legislative Public Library District or a School District Public Library, continue to work with your Division of Library Development regional liaison or system contact to complete the following actions required for operation of the new library. These actions include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Obtain copies of the following two documents:

  1. A certified copy of the results of the election. The certification of election results for a special legislative district public library is usually completed by the election inspector(s) named in the State legislation authorizing the local election. In the case of a vote to create a school district public library, the certification of election results is completed by the clerk of the Board of Education.
  2. A certified and notarized affidavit of the publication of the notice announcing the election. This document is obtained from the newspaper or other official publication which printed the legal notice announcing the election to create and fund the district and elect trustees. An official at the newspaper that published the notice must sign the copy of the notice and have it notarized.

These documents must be submitted to the New York State Library's Division of Library Development along with the application for a charter for the new library.

2. The newly elected board of trustees must meet within 30 days of the election

At this first organizational meeting of the board, trustee terms should be established by lot if they were not specified as part of the election process. In addition, the new board should review and approve a formal application for a charter and associated paperwork. The charter packet to be submitted to the New York State Library's Division of Library Development should include the following documents:

  • A Certificate of Establishment of a New Library
  • An Application for Provisional Library Charter and Admission to the University [in Word or .PDF]; or, if the new library is replacing an existing library, an Application: Absolute Library Charter in the First Instance and Admission to the University [in Word or .PDF].
  • A Provisional Charter and Admission to the University {[Application]: Word pdf file [184K] | .PDF pdf file [111K]}; or if appropriate, a Petition for Absolute Charter in the First Instance.
  • Consent to Serve as an Initial Trustee... of the newly created library -- form signed by each of the new trustees
  • List of terms of office of the board of trustees of the new library
  • Certified and notarized affidavit of the publication of the legal notice announcing the election to create and fund the new library and elect trustees. (see section 1 above)
  • Certified copy of the results of the election to create and fund the new library and elect trustees (see section 1 above)
  • Copy of the library's first year budget

3. Immediate Next Steps

  1. After the charter application is submitted:
    1. Establish bylaws.
    2. Establish policies.
    3. Meet with municipality.
  2. After the charter is granted: Within two or three months after the above paperwork has been submitted, upon recommendation by the New York State Library's Division of Library Development, the Board of Regents will formally take action on the new library district’s charter application. Once the Board of Regents has approved the charter for the new library, the new library district board of trustees assumes responsibility for governing the library. Within 30 days of receiving the library charter, the oath of office should be administered to all trustees. In addition, the new library board must submit an application for registration to the New York State Library's Division of Library Development, which will enable the library to receive public funds.  A copy of the library’s bylaws should be submitted along with the registration application.

4. Comply with Civil Service Requirements

Contact your county's civil service office, and speak to other special district libraries in your county to find out what is involved.

5. Comply with New York State Comptroller Regulations

  1. Use accrual-based accounting system
  2. Your must file an annual report with the Comptroller. More information external link; opens in a new window
  3. You must follow the Comptrollers Guidelines for Purchasing and Claims Processing

6. Tax Exempt Status

Once the new library is chartered it is automatically state tax exempt.  In addition, because public library districts are generally considered by the IRS to be state or local government entities, they are not required to pay federal income tax.  If asked by a donor or Foundation to provide a tax-exempt number or determination letter to prove its status as a tax-exempt organization, a library may contact the IRS for a letter describing the tax status of government entities. Information on this can be found on the Affirmation of Your Tax-Exempt Status page on the IRS web site.

In some cases a library may wish to qualify as a 501c3 tax exempt organization under the tax code rather than as a governmental entity.  In this case the new library must file IRS form 1023 in order to obtain a determination from the IRS.

In any case, it is important to note that the federal tax exemption does not automatically transfer from an existing library to a new public library district.

7. Dissolving the old library, transfer of assets, and turning the reins over to the new library

If the new library district is replacing an existing library, the old library board should submit formal paperwork to dissolve and transfer its assets to the new library as soon as possible after the election that creates the new district. Sample forms for these actions are posted on the New York State Library's web site. Once a new library is formed and the new library district board’s application for a charter has been approved by the Regents, the new library board should begin meeting regularly to conduct necessary business. At this point, the old library board should cease to operate as a policy making library board and only continue to meet to complete the asset transfer and dissolution process. When the Board of Regents has approved the dissolution of the existing library, the State Education Department Office of Counsel will send a letter that acknowledges the Regents action and specifies that within three months, trustees of the library being dissolved must petition the Supreme Court in their County for an order directing the disposition of any remaining corporate assets (see Education Law §220). Once all assets of the library have been transferred and or disposed of, it should cease operations.

As mentioned above, the process for dissolving a library includes the passage of a resolution by the library board being replaced stating that all of the library's assets have been transferred to another nonprofit organization (presumably the new library district) and that there are no remaining debts. This process is usually straightforward when all assets are being distributed to the new library district. However, the asset transfer process can be somewhat complicated or delayed when there is a building and/or a private endowment involved. For example, a municipality or perhaps a private foundation that is separate from the public library may hold the deed or title to the library building. Special arrangements may have to be negotiated in these cases for the municipality or the foundation to either transfer the title to the new library district or to enable the new library to continue to utilize the facility under a lease or rental agreement. Another example might involve an Association Library with a large endowment invested in stocks and bonds. This library may wish to transfer that endowment to a private foundation able to invest in stocks and bonds rather than transfer the endowment to the new library district, which as a public entity is limited in the type of investments it can make. In both cases, the asset transfer process and dissolution process may take some time. It is strongly recommended that libraries making the transition to a public library district tackle these issues early on in the process so that there is minimal delay in transferring assets or dissolving the existing library.

Last Updated: June 19, 2014 -- asm [created January 27, 2005]; for questions or comments, contact us