Guidelines for the New York State Public Library System Services to State Correctional Facility Libraries State Aid Program



In July 1984, library legislation initiated a calendar year program of cooperation between the 23 public library systems and the state correctional facilities in their respective service areas. For full text of the law and regulation governing this state aid program, see Appendix I: Education Law Article 5, Section 285, State Aid For Cooperation with Correctional Facilities; Commissioner's Regulations, 90.14, State Aid For Cooperation With Correctional Facilities.

Each public library system is required to outline its goals, activities and expected results for services to State Correctional Facility Libraries in its State Education Department-approved Five Year Plan of Service.

Of the 23 public library systems, 18 currently have State correctional facilities in their system service area. The number and size of State correctional facilities varies greatly from region to region. The number of correctional facilities in the public library systems' service areas ranges from one to ten. (Appendix III) The State correctional facilities vary in population from 80 to 3,000 inmates. While the public library systems are responsible for administering the program, the law requires close cooperation between the public library systems and the State correctional facilities.

These guidelines are intended to enhance the program as follows:

  • Provide guidance to public library systems for effective administration of the program.
  • Facilitate communication among all participants in the program.
  • Provide guidance that will result in quality public library system services to inmates in New York State correctional facilities.

I. Cooperation Between the Department of Correctional Services, Library Division, and the New York State Library

The State Education Department, through the New York State Library, and the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), through the Library Division, are the two state agencies that oversee the public library systems and the State correctional facility libraries respectively. The State correctional facility librarians are accountable to the DOCS Library Division, and the public library systems are accountable to the State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries. Open communication between the two State agencies from all levels, as well as between the facility librarians and the public library system staff, will enhance the success of this program.

The New York State Library's Division of Library Development (DLD) staff will consult with the DOCS Library Division, for clarification of correctional library procedures and policies as necessary. State Library staff review and approve library system Five-Year Plans of Service, annual budget applications, and reports to ensure that state funds are spent appropriately.

Copies of directives and memos sent to the participants in the program by either the Library Division of DOCS or the New York State Library will be sent to the other State agency to keep both agencies informed of policies, procedures, and problems that may affect the program.

II. Negotiation of Annual Service Agreements Between Public Library Systems and Libraries of State Correctional Facilities

As part of their administration of the state aid program, public library system staff works with the librarians and administrative staff of the libraries in the state correctional facilities to negotiate an annual service plan. Public library system staff meets with correctional facility librarians and, if possible, the Deputy Superintendent for Programs of each state correctional facility in the system's service area and with the DOCS Library Division to develop the service plan. Copies of the agreed upon service plan and budget summary are distributed to each facility. After agreeing on the plan, the correctional facility librarian and the Deputy Superintendent will sign an Authentication of Annual Negotiations... form. This Authentication is necessary for receipt of State aid and it is retained at the public library system.

III. Eligibility Factors for Receiving Public Library System Funds for Services to State Correctional Facility Libraries

Public Library Systems with State Correctional Facilities in Service Area

State aid under this program is available to any public library system that has one or more State correctional facility located within its service area. Funding is per capita based on the population in the correctional facilities as of July 1 of the year preceding the program calendar year. For example, funding for program year 2006 is based on the inmate population statistics collected in July 2005. The funding rate in State law is $9.25 per inmate. If State aid to libraries is not approved according to Education Law, the funding is based on the amount appropriated by the Legislature and Governor.

To obtain State aid under this program, a public library system must do the following:

  • Have an SED-approved Five-Year Plan of Service that includes goals, activities, and anticipated results for services to State correctional facility libraries.
  • Negotiate an annual service agreement with the State correctional facility libraries in its service area, as described above.
  • Submit an approvable System annual budget application.
  • Indicate as part of the system's annual budget application that the service agreement has been authenticated by each State correctional facility to which the system plans to extend services.

If a public library system plans to serve a correctional facility library that is not eligible as defined in the Commissioner's Regulations 90.14 (a) (2), the system must obtain a waiver from the New York State Library.

Correctional Facility Libraries

To participate in the program, a correctional facility must do the following:

  • Have a full-time, certified librarian except for those state correctional facilities that are identified by DOCS as camps and minimum-security facilities. A public library system may decide not to provide services to a State correctional facility library if the librarian position at the library remains vacant for more than three months during any calendar year. If the public library system withholds services for this or any other reason, it will not be eligible to receive that portion of the State aid that would be allocated for services to that facility's library. A correctional facility must report any librarian personnel changes to the public library system in which it is located within one month of the change.
  • Be in full operation, serving a resident inmate population, as of July 1 of the year preceding the calendar year of the program (Commissioner's Regulations 90.14 (a) (3)). A correctional facility that is added to a public library system's service area after July 1 will qualify for participation in the program only after July 1 of the following year, when the Department of Correctional Services reports the facility's population census to the State Library.

IV. Services and Programs Provided by Public Library Systems

The purpose of the program is to supplement library services for inmates in State correctional institutions by providing inmates with broader access to library materials, services, and the statewide library network.

The distribution of State aid funds for this program is based on the negotiated agreement between the parties. It is not legally required that distribution or allocation of funds be made on a per capita basis according to correctional facility populations. The program is not a substitute for basic library services and programs that each correctional facility provides for its inmates. The Department of Correctional Services provides the basic annual budget for staffing, acquisitions, and equipment.

Materials and equipment purchased through the program remain the property of the public library system, although the system may provide them to a correctional facility library on long-term loan. The library system and the correctional facility library negotiate responsibility for repairs and/or maintenance of these materials and equipment.

All negotiated plans for services are contingent on the public library system's receipt of annual state aid monies for the program. The amounts of the funding to be used to provide services will be based on the latest available budget information from New York State. The actual amounts expended will be based on the actual amount of aid received by the public library system.

The funding for this program may not be used to purchase textbooks or manuals for education and vocational classes that the facility provides.

Some of the services that public library systems may provide include the following:

  1. Interlibrary Loan: One of the most important system services to correctional facility libraries.

    If correctional facility librarians do not have access to online searching tools and system catalogs, systems may have to handle and search facility ILL requests from correctional facility libraries in a different manner from member library ILL requests. The correctional facility libraries and the systems must ensure that requests are submitted and handled as efficiently as possible. Because incarcerated people are an outreach target population, systems may consider use of Coordinated Outreach State Aid for these ILL expenses. The systems and the correctional facility libraries will negotiate filling of ILL requests from holdings within the system and filling from outside the system.

    It is common, while not required, to include in the negotiated plan a replacement policy and budget for materials. Sometimes these expenses are covered by the inmates' funds, some through the correctional facility and some through the state aid program budget.

  2. Special Formats: Assistance in gaining access to library materials in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, recorded and digital format for people with print-related and other disabilities.
  3. Collection Development: Purchase of all types of library materials to supplement the collections of the correctional facility libraries.

    Consultation with the facility librarian ensures that the most-needed materials are purchased for long-term loan to the facility. Such materials are the property of the public library system.

  4. Cataloging and Processing: Cataloging and processing services for materials acquired for the correctional facility library either with program funds or with the facility libraries' own funds.
  5. Consultant Services: Training programs, bibliographies, identification and location of vendors for specialized materials, and visits to facility libraries to assist the librarians in making effective use of resources, assistance with program development, workshops for inmates, exhibits, etc.
  6. Continuing Education: Continuing education and specialized programs offered to system member libraries that may be useful to correctional facility librarians as well, including opportunities for professional conferences and travel when appropriate.
  7. Technology and Automation Services: System services as negotiated to assist correctional facility libraries with collection management, interlibrary loan, reference and other software and hardware needs.
  8. Additional system services may include but are not limited to the following:
    • Guides and directories to inmate transitional services
    • Loan of rotating or deposit collections
    • Printing and graphic arts

V. Budget Application for State Aid

The public library system submits the budget application for this program as part of its system annual budget application to the New York State Library. An annual budget summary is included as a part of the application. The budget summary should reflect how the expenditures support the goals and expected accomplishments for services to State correctional facility libraries as they are identified in the library system's approved Five-Year Plan of Service.

The State Library's Division of Library Development will provide copies of the annual budget application and budget summary to DOCS. If the budget submitted to the State Library by the public library system is altered as a result of review by State Library staff, copies of the revised application and budget summary will also be provided to DOCS.

As part of the public library system's budget application to the New York State Library, the system must provide assurance that it has a signed Authentication of Annual Negotiations... form from each facility library on file at system headquarters. This Authentication of Annual Negotiations... form shows evidence of successful negotiation between the system and the State correctional facility library of the annual budget and service agreement.

Appendix I -- Education Law and Regulation

Education Law: Article 5, Section 285

Regulations of the Commissioner of Education: S. 90.14

Appendix II -- Elements of Annual Application for Correctional Services State Aid Program

The Annual Application for State Aid Funds includes the following:

  • Budget Summary to explain how the expenditures in the budget application attain the goals, activities and expected accomplishments described in the system's approved Five-Year Plan of Service.
  • Budget information. Allowable services and resources to be provided through these state aid funds include: salaries, purchased services, library, supplies and materials, travel, employee benefits, equipment and furnishings. (System overhead expenses are not allowed).
  • Request for waivers as needed.

NOTE: Services noted under Section IV, items 1 - 8 are commonly carried out with funding from this State aid program. Those and other agreed-upon services and resources which directly impact library services to inmates in State correctional facilities may be provided through this funding

Appendix III -- Populations: New York State Correctional Facility Libraries Listed by Public Library System


Appendix IV -- Outreach Services Consultants; NYS Public Library Systems

Go to Roster

Appendix V -- Form: Authentication of Annual Negotiations for the New York State Public Library System Services to State Correctional Facility Libraries; State Aid Program

Authentication of Annual Negotiations... form (in MS Word iconWord [330k]or pdf icon.PDF [43k] format)

[NOTE: Librarian must hold either a professional or a conditional certificate as per CR 90.14(a)(2) and further explained in CR 90.7. If this regulation is not met, contact Mary Beth Farr at the New York State Library/Division of Library Development: 518/486-4927.]

Last Updated: July 15, 2014 -- asm; for questions or comments, contact Mary Beth Farr