Libraries and Library Systems

With more than 215 million volumes, New York State's approximately 9,400 libraries are an important part of the State's educational system.  Public, school, academic, institution and special libraries are essential to teaching and learning, research, community life and lifelong learning.  Library staff answer hundreds of thousands of reference questions and provide career, job, community agency and educational information.  State-supported library systems link all types of libraries to share resources and extend services.
Library use is increasing each year.  In 2008, public libraries will loan some 148 million items.  Academic libraries will serve more than 1.4 million students and faculty, supporting the research and learning programs essential to the intellectual life of the State.  School libraries will help more than 3 million students develop lifelong learning skills.  Libraries in Correctional and Division for Youth facilities will serve individuals preparing to rejoin society. Some 1,800 corporations, scientific institutes, government agencies and industrial research units are linked to the library resources of the State through their special libraries.  Important ethnic and cultural resources are safeguarded through programs offered by institutions such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Akwesasne Library on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Public Library Systems

The 23 public library systems, supported by $80 million in State aid, provide a means by which some 753 public libraries and 502 branches and other outlets can serve the public efficiently and effectively.  State aid of $6.4 million is targeted for outreach services to persons who are blind, physically handicapped, aged, confined in institutions, unemployed or in need of job placement assistance, illiterate, educationally disadvantaged, isolated from existing library services, or members of ethnic or minority groups in need of special library services.  In 2007, 76 percent of public library income was from local sources; 7 percent was State-funded; about 1 percent was from Federal library support programs and the remaining 16 percent was from endowments, gifts and other receipts.

Reference and Research Library

Resources Systems

The nine reference and research library resources systems, supported by $8 million in State aid in 2007, enable academic, hospital, law, business and other special libraries, public library systems and school library systems to share resources.  They provide interlibrary loan, delivery, access of electronic resources, digitization support, direct borrowing and other services to meet the reference and information needs of library users, students, faculty, the professions and others.

Academic Library Resources

Library resources of colleges and universities are an important part of the State's total intellectual resource.  Of academic library holdings totaling more than 111 million volumes, 66 percent are held by independent colleges and universities, and 34 percent are held by publicly supported institutions.  Nine of the largest academic research libraries, the New York State Library and the New York Public Library are participating in a State-aided program to preserve library research materials.

School Library Systems

The forty-one school library systems are based in 36 of the State's Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and the Big 5 city school districts, and were supported by nearly $7.5 million in State aid during 2006-07.  Systems qualify for aid on the basis of an approved plan of service which includes, but is not limited to, resource-sharing, automation of library materials, professional development activities, cooperative collection plans and special client needs. State aid is allocated by a formula based on full-time equivalency counts of students (FTE), number of districts, square miles and base grants.  Systems serve the resource-sharing needs of three million public and non-public school students.

New York State Library

Established in 1818, the New York State Library is the largest state library in the nation.  It has two divisions, the Research Library and Library Development.  Both serve the people and the libraries of New York State. 
The Division of Library Development works in partnership with 73 library systems to bring cost-effective, modern library services to the millions of people who use New York’s 9,400 academic, public, school and special libraries.  It develops, strengthens and improves library services through 25 statewide grant programs for library systems and local libraries which support over 1,500 projects. Library Development provides advisory services, including telephone consultation, regional and Board/Council meetings and site visits, coordinates chartering (incorporation) and registration (approval) of public libraries, collects and disseminates information about all types of libraries and library use and operates a public librarian certification program.  State and Federal grant programs administered by Library Development totaling $100 million strengthen interlibrary cooperation and increase access to information and library services through a cost efficient statewide library service network.
The Research Library is a leader in the use of technology in information services, with an on-line public catalog, Excelsior, an electronic reference station, and access to more than 1,000 databases.  Its collection of 19 million items includes major holdings in law, medicine, the social sciences, education, American and New York State history and culture, the pure sciences, and technology.  The Research Library provides reference and research services to support the work of New York State government and it serves as a resource and referral center in the New York State Interlibrary Loan Network and operates a regional Talking Book and Braille Library.  The State Library is also the headquarters of the New Netherlands Project, a translation program concerned with the significance of the Dutch in colonial New York.