New York State's Public Library Systems

Improving information literacy, educational achievement, economic development, and quality of life for all New Yorkers

Facts About Public Library Systems

  • Serve over 19 million people statewide
  • Serve 755 public libraries with over 1,100 outlets
  • Operate over 300 neighborhood branches, 11 bookmobiles, and over 100 other community outlets extending services to people in correctional facilities, nursing homes, urban and rural areas
  • Facilitate over 15 million interlibrary loan requests annually
  • Provide access to e-books, NOVELNY and other electronic resources
  • Provide professional development and training opportunities for library staff and trustees
  • Operate multi-county computer networks and automated catalogs of resources
  • Connect with the New York State Library, school library systems, reference and research library resources councils, and school, academic and special libraries for access to specialized resources
  • Serve as a liaison to the New York State Library and the New York State Education Department

Three Types of Public Library Systems

Consolidated (3): Chartered as a single entity under a board of trustees (Brooklyn, The New York Public Library, and Queens Borough Public Library).

Federated (4): Created by action of the board or boards of supervisors or legislature of the county or counties involved while member libraries retain their own charters (Buffalo & Erie, Clinton-Essex-Franklin, Monroe, and Onondaga).

Cooperative (16): An association created by agreement of boards of chartered member libraries, which retain their autonomy.

See also Types of Library Systems

Public Library Systems Provide

  • Free direct access to resources and services of all system member libraries
  • Support for a central library that provides extended public hours and a strong research and reference collection
  • Support for the latest technologies and telecommunication services including e-books, the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVELNY) and other electronic resources
  • Interlibrary loan, daily delivery and other resource sharing services
  • Special outreach and literacy services for persons with challenging conditions and life situations, the institutionalized, underserved and unserved communities, and people who have difficulty reading, writing, and speaking English
  • Cooperative grants administration and grant writing assistance to member libraries
  • Access to free talking books, braille materials, and playback equipment from the State Library and The New York Public Library
  • Programs that assist local communities without libraries to obtain library services
  • Staff expertise in areas such as library law, library budgeting and management, technology, collection development, grants, youth services, outreach and more
  • Professional development and training for library staff and trustees

New York State's Public Library Systemsmap of public library systems

  • Brooklyn Public Library -- (718) 230-2403
  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Library -- (716) 858-8900
  • Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System -- (716) 484-7135
  • Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System -- (518) 563-5190
  • Finger Lakes Library System -- (607) 273-4074
  • Four County Library System -- (607) 723-8236
  • Mid-Hudson Library System -- (845) 471-6060
  • Mid York Library System -- (315) 735-8328
  • Mohawk Valley Library System -- (518) 355-2010
  • Monroe County Library System -- (585) 428-8045
  • Nassau Library System -- (516) 292-8920
  • The New York Public Library -- (212) 930-0674
  • Nioga Library System -- (716) 434-6167
  • North Country Library System -- (315) 782-5540
  • Onondaga County Public Library -- (315) 435-1900
  • Pioneer Library System -- (585) 394-8260
  • Queens Borough Public Library -- (718) 990-0700
  • Ramapo Catskill Library System -- (845) 243-3747
  • Southern Adirondack Library System -- (518) 584-7300
  • Southern Tier Library System -- (607) 962-3141
  • Suffolk Cooperative Library System -- (631) 286-1600
  • Upper Hudson Library System -- (518) 437-9880
  • Westchester Library System -- (914) 674-3600

Background Information

In the late 1950s, the State Legislature and Governor authorized the establishment of public library systems in Education Law. Governance and function are established in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Each public library system is governed by a board of trustees.

See also Types of Library Systems

The State created library systems to expand the resources of all local libraries, enabling them to buy services and share resources cooperatively. Most of the 23 public library systems are supported entirely by State Aid. Systems qualify for aid based on an approved five-year plan of service and annual report. A portion of the State Aid is direct aid for member libraries.

More information on State Aid programs for libraries and library systems

Public library systems facilitate sharing of library resources so all New Yorkers have access to information and library services that advance and enhance their lives as workers, citizens, family members, and lifelong learners. Systems provide cooperative programs and services that help local communities take advantage of economies of scale. System staff provide professional expertise that helps local libraries achieve their full potential.

For more information on and links to Public Library Systems and public libraries:

public library systems map

For more information on the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVELNY):


Visit the New York State Library's NOVELNY web site

The above document as a printable brochure pdf icon (308k)

Last Updated: June 23, 2020 -- sm