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Public library trustees in New York State oversee an estimated $1.6 billion of the public’s money—a responsibility that must be undertaken by informed, thoughtful, prudent, and trustworthy library boards. Requiring trustee education will foster an understanding of complex governance processes so that this responsibility is met.

Furthermore, to provide effective oversight, board members must appreciate their mandated duties and responsibilities. An effective way of providing this appreciation is to offer the training necessary to be good financial stewards.

The Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State states that “trustees must learn and grow during their entire tenure on the board, developing an ever-deepening awareness of the affairs of their own library and an appreciation and understanding of other libraries and library organizations. The public library is a multifaceted organization functioning in a complex world.”

Beginning January 1, 2023, each member, elected or appointed, of a board of trustees shall be required to complete a minimum of two hours of trustee education annually. (Education Law 260-d added by Chapter 468 of the Laws of 2021).

Per Education Law, trustee education topics may include financial oversight, accountability, fiduciary responsibilities and the general powers and duties of a library trustee. Libraries should consult with their public library system about acceptable trustee education topics, formats and activities.

See for information on meeting training requirements, approved trustee education providers, tracking compliance, etc.


• Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State This is the definitive guidance for library trustees and each trustee should familiarize him/herself with the information included. MVLS provides paper copies of the latest edition of the Handbook.

• Statement on the Governance Role of a Trustee or Board Member The NY State Board of Regents iterates the responsibilities and roles of trustees of educational institutions.

• Oaths of Office for Trustees Trustees of public libraries are legally required to take an oath of office to be filed with the local municipal or county clerk. Information (including the text of the oath) is available here:

• NY Division of Library Development The Division of Library Development is the State
Education Department division dealing with libraries with an extensive website of resources for trustees.

• Handbook for New Library Directors in New York State An excellent guide for new (and seasoned) library directors.

• Civil Service Public Libraries in New York State must comply with their local Civil Service requirements. There are many Civil Service Commissions in the state. For most MVLS communities, you are covered by the county commission. To find your local commission look here:

• Civil Service Guide for Librarians

• Opinions of State Comptroller Relating to

• NY Committee on Open Government Information on Open Meetings Law, Freedom of Information and Privacy protections in New York.

• New York State Confidentiality Law Library Records Law (CPLR Sec. 4509) §4509. Library
records “Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute.”


• Types of Libraries

• Minimum Standards for Public Libraries Libraries must meet these requirements to retain their charter and registration and receive state aid and verifies compliance on the annual report to the State Education Department.

• Public Library District Information Becoming a library district provides a library with a stable fiscal base and accountability to the residents of their community. Detailed information on re-chartering including step by step how-tos are available at:

• System Maps Showing Served and Unserved Areas


• Americans with Disabilities Act ADA website:

• Public Library Construction Grant Program