Steps for Creating a School District Public Library

Prior to embarking on the process to create a School District Public Library, it is strongly recommended that the library board or interested parties contact the library system and/or the New York State Library Division of Library Development for assistance and guidance. In addition, it is also recommended that a library retain legal counsel and carefully review the "Where to Start" file within this "how-to" guide.
  1. Residents of a school district who are interested in creating the new library must submit to the board of education a petition signed by at least 25 qualified voters of the school district asking that a proposition to establish and fund a public library to serve the school district be put before the voters at the next regular school district meeting or at a special meeting called for this purpose (Education Law §255.1). The New York State Library's Division of Library Development recommends that the establishment of the library and the initial budget be included in a single proposition. Failure to do so may result in a library being established with no operating funds.
  2. Each candidate interested in serving on the Board of Trustees of the school district public library must submit to the board of education a nominating petition signed by at least 25 qualified voters or 2 percent of the number of voters who voted in the last school district election, whichever is greater. (Education Law §260.8) The library may have no fewer than five nor more than 15 trustees. The actual number to be elected must be specified in the proposition creating the library.
  3. The board of education places the proposition to establish and fund a library and a separate proposition to elect library trustees before the voters at the next regularly scheduled school district election or at a special election to beheld at a separate time and place in accordance with Education law. If the proposed school district public library will replace an existing library, correspondence should be sent to the school district requesting that the votes to create and fund the new library and elect trustees be held within in the existing library on a date that is separate from the regular school election (Education Law §255.1). Though the school district is under no obligation to comply with the request, school district officials may find that it is in their best interest to schedule the election to create and fund the library at a separate time and place from the regular school budget vote.
  4. Campaigns to educate the community and garner support for the proposition to establish and fund the library are coordinated by concerned citizens or by the library board of trustees if the new library is replacing an existing library. Public funds can be used to educate the community but not to advocate for the proposition. Separate and independent library advocacy groups, such as the Friends of the Library, may use private donations to advocate for the proposition. More information on educational and advocacy campaigns.
  5. If the new School District Public Library will replace an existing library, the Board of Trustees should engage officials of local municipalities that had been funding the library to seek their support. This may be critical to ensure continued library funding in the event that the proposition to create and fund the new library fails. In addition, if the title to the library building is held by the municipality, the library board should clarify the terms under which the facility could continue to be used by the new school district public library after the new district is formed.
  6. After the election, the clerk of the board of education certifies the results of the election, showing the number of votes cast for and against the establishment and the initial budget for the new library, and for each candidate for the library board of trustees.
  7. If the proposition to establish and fund the library is passed, several additional actions need to take place before the process is complete. Within one month after taking office, the new library's Board of Trustees submits an application to the Division of Library Development for a library charter. A copy of the library's first year budget, a certified copy of the election results, and a signed and notarized copy of the official public notice announcing the election should accompany the charter application.
  8. If the new School District Public Library is taking the place of an existing library or libraries, the Board of Trustees of the library being replaced passes a resolution to dissolve the old library and submits paperwork to the New York State Library's Division of Library Development transferring assets to the new library.
  9. Once the charter is granted, the library applies for a registration, and trustees must take an oath of office.
  10. The school district collects tax money for the library and turns the funds over to the library board. The school district has no direct control over the operations of the library.
  11. Annual funding for the library will remain at the amount specified in the initial proposition until the library board places another proposition on the ballot to increase the amount. In this case, the library board of trustees will determine the time and place for the vote. Most School District Public Libraries schedule their votes to take place within the library on a separate date from the regular school district election. Education Law 260.7.

NOTE: More detailed information on chartering and dissolving educational organizations in New York State can be found in Law Pamphlet 9 external link; opens in a new window issued by the New York State Education Department.

See also After the Vote -- a checklist of actions.


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Last Updated: July 23, 2009 -- asm [created January 27, 2005]; for questions or comments, contact us