This list of FAQs is designed to answer questions that applicants may have about New York State Aid for Library Construction. If you have questions after reviewing these FAQs, please contact Frank Rees or Natalie McDonough.
Sections on this page (click section titles to view FAQs for that topic):
A : Any public library or public library system chartered by the Regents of the State of New York or established by an act of the New York State Legislature is eligible to apply for State Aid for Library Construction.
A: A library should submit an application through its public library system. Each year, the State Library publicizes the availability of state aid for public library construction, and posts application forms and other pertinent documents on its website. Interested applicants should follow the procedures outlined on the website and submit completed applications with other required documents to their public library system. After a review and evaluation of the materials, the system will forward the application to the State Library for further review and consideration.
A: Yes. A library/library system can submit a project application for funding in 2021-2024 even if a previously funded project remains open.
Please note, a library/library system can not receive funding for the same project more than once. The project for which funding is being requested in 2021-2024 must be different from any project(s) funded previously.
A: Yes. With legislation passed in 2019 (Chapter 389 of the Laws of 2019), a library system can now submit one or more Coordinated Project Applications that include multiple library buildings within the same project. The library system is responsible for the overall management of a coordinated project. Each library building must be listed separately in the Coordinated Project application. In addition to providing the total project cost and matching funds information, library systems will also provide information about the prorated total project cost and recommended award and match amounts for each participant building. A Coordinated Project Application must be approved by the board of trustees of the library system and the board of trustees of each participant member library.
A library building may only be included in ONE library system Coordinated Project Application per funding year. If a library or library system has multiple buildings (a main building and branches), each building may be included in a library system Coordinated Project Application. Library system Coordinated Projects are eligible for a maximum award of fifty percent of the total project approved costs. Match funds may be provided by local libraries and/or the library system or any combination thereof.
A: No. Single-building project applications must be limited to one project per building, and no building can be the subject of more than one single-building application per year, except in the case of a Coordinated Project. However, a project application may include seemingly unrelated components within a single building as long as the project is within the construction aid program guidelines. A library participating in a library system’s Coordinated Project Application may also submit a single-building application in the same funding year.
A: Yes. If a library or library system has multiple buildings (a main building and one or more branches), the library or library system may apply for construction aid for each building. Libraries are required to submit one project application for each building. A library system may submit either a single-building application for each building or one or more Coordinated Project applications involving multiple buildings.
A: Yes. If the library system headquarters building also serves as the system’s central library, the system can use funds from both the sixty percent reserved for member libraries and the forty percent of money available for use by the library system. (See “How is construction aid funding distributed throughout the state?” below.)
A: The deadline for submission of applications from the systems to the State Library is 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. However, each public library system will set its own deadlines for member libraries to submit applications to allow sufficient time for system review and system board approval. Please contact your public library system to find out its due date.
A: If the applicant is a library, the application for State Aid for Library Construction must first be submitted online to the public library system for review and evaluation. The public library system board reviews and evaluates each library’s application and then submits the approved applications, along with a funding recommendation to the New York State Library. If the applicant is a library system, the system will submit the system application directly to the State Library along with the member library applications. The system application must describe how the project to enhance the system headquarters building will improve system services to member libraries and users. The library system board must “rank the applications from its system area in order of its recommendations, giving particular attention to the service needs of any communities which are isolated, economically disadvantaged or located beyond the reasonable service capabilities of other libraries which are members of such library system.” The submission process for both the library to the library system and the library system to the State Library is an online process.
The State Library will review project applications and submit approved project applications and supporting documents to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) for review and final approval.
Dormitory Authority bond proceeds will be used to reimburse the State of New York for allocations made under this program. Therefore, the Dormitory Authority will need to review each application for statutory and tax law compliance. In addition, the Dormitory Authority will undertake the SEQRA review, unless another lead agency has already conducted an appropriate review. Once the Dormitory Authority and the State Library have approved the application, paperwork will be processed for the initial aid payment.Back to top
A: No. Projects cannot be completed prior to the date of the application**. Applications for completed projects will not be approved. (** The date of application means the deadline date for receipt of applications by the library system.)
A: No. Aid can be provided only “on approved expenses incurred during the period commencing July first and ending June thirtieth” of the funding year “for up to three years, or until the project is completed, whichever occurs first.” Any costs incurred before July 1, 2021, are not eligible for direct construction aid for the 2021-2024 funding cycle. However, funds expended on the project between January 1 – June 30, 2021, can be considered match funds and may be included as part of the total project cost.
A: The minimum allocation is $2,500. There is no maximum, but the amounts of the aid will depend on the number of project applications received and the total funding available.
A: Costs eligible for approval include construction or acquisition of a library building, renovation or rehabilitation of a library building, or renovation or rehabilitation of a building leased for library purposes. The purchase and installation of equipment and furnishings are eligible costs within the context of a construction project application for a new building, building addition or substantially renovated/rehabilitated space. Assistive listening devices and systems are eligible expenses. The purchase, installation or replacement of a library's broadband infrastructure is eligible. Other eligible costs include site acquisition (purchase of vacant land or an existing building to be used for library purposes), site grading of owned property in conjunction with a building project, and supervision/management of the construction, renovation, or rehabilitation. The purchase and installation of one or more generators is also an eligible expense. The program gives priority to projects that increase energy conservation, provide accommodation for computer equipment and new technologies and brings libraries into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Libraries and library systems are encouraged to support “green” projects that may result in buildings eligible for LEEDS certification. Priority is also given to projects that will extend library services to people residing in geographically isolated and economically disadvantaged communities.
A: Yes, a library or system may use the construction funds to purchase computers and equipment that will upgrade the library or system’s technology capabilities—e.g., automated systems that permit library users to check out materials themselves, public access computers for a newly constructed computer lab. The purchase of new technologies must be within the context of a construction project for a new building, building addition, or a substantial renovation/rehabilitation project. Requests for new computers that are not intimately connected to a construction/rehabilitation project are not eligible for funding from this program. The purchase, installation or replacement of broadband infrastructure is eligible as a stand-alone project.
A: Yes, the purchase, installation or replacement of broadband infrastructure is eligible as a stand-alone project. The purchase of initial necessary equipment or the upgrade of existing equipment, such as servers, routers and wireless hubs are also eligible expenses as part of a broadband project.
Broadband infrastructure projects involving fiber buildout that are eligible for State Aid for Library Construction funds should meet the following criteria:
Broadband Wireless Projects
A: Yes. Participation in a coordinated project with a Library System to provide broadband services to several library buildings does not preclude a library from submitting an individual application.
A: No. Commissioner Regulations specifically exclude “routine maintenance” from eligible funding categories. Projects with emphasis on repair and/or building upkeep and tasks that need to be done on an annual basis are generally considered to be routine maintenance. This includes tasks that involve keeping any sort of mechanical, plumbing or electrical device in working order (preventive maintenance).
Expensive projects with a large scope that are not done every year, such as carpet replacement for large areas of the building and repointing bricks are not considered routine maintenance. Brick repointing as a stand-alone project is eligible for funding, as it is a safety issue. However, carpet replacement as a stand-alone activity does not qualify as a construction project. The carpet replacement must be a component of a construction / renovation project, such as sub flooring replacement, a renovation project that creates new space, the creation of a building addition or a completely new building.
A: Yes, project management costs of the construction, renovation, rehabilitation or broadband library services infrastructure project, including such costs as project manager and clerk of the works, are eligible for funding.
A: Yes, architectural and engineering plans for locally approved new or ongoing projects, provided they are submitted in the same application as the relevant project, are eligible for funding. The work outlined in the architecture or engineering plans MUST be carried out as part of the same project number/application. Those plans cannot be funded if the specified work is not included within the same project application and carried out within the same project timeframe. Speculative architectural and engineering plans are not eligible for funding under the State Aid for Library Construction Program.
A: Yes. Other costs ineligible for funding include, but are not limited to, speculative architectural and engineering plans, building consultant feasibility studies, interest or carrying charges on bonds financing the project, long-term debt payments on bonds or loans financing the project, purchase of books and other library materials, asbestos, mold, and lead abatement, and landscaping. Library signage (with or without lighting) is not considered landscaping and is an eligible expense.
A: State aid for library construction can be provided for “up to seventy-five percent of the total project approved costs for buildings of public libraries that are located in an economically disadvantaged community,” as determined by the library’s library system. Public libraries that are located in communities that are not identified by the library system as economically disadvantaged communities are eligible for a maximum of fifty percent of the total project approved costs.
Before applications are approved, applicants must provide evidence of the availability of funds to pay for the cost of the project, minus the amount allocated through State Aid for Library Construction. Verification must be in the form of bank or bond certification, an official document(s) signed by a financial authority connected with the applying institution, and/or such other evidentiary documents as necessary. Note: Library applicants do not receive the final ten percent of the State aid until the project is completed and closed. Applicants need to make sure enough local funds are available to complete projects.
A new law passed in 2019 (Chapter 381 of the Laws of 2019) allows for additional State funding up to 90% of the total project costs for a library serving economically distressed communities. This new law allocates to each library system a limited amount of funding to support such projects (funding is capped at 10% of the library system’s construction aid allocation. If a library’s application is selected by the system for State funding above 75%, the entire State-funded portion of the library’s project application must come from this capped system allotment of 10%. If a system does not use the entire 10% allotment to fund projects requesting over 75%, then those State funds may be used to support other library projects.
Libraries serving economically distressed communities must first meet all requirements to receive State funding at the 75% level. In order to be eligible for additional State funding beyond 75%, a library must meet these additional requirements:
Please note: The library system must also attach a copy of the criteria used to determine 75% reduced match status to the application of each library so identified.
Links to help determine economically distressed communities:
A: No. SAMS money cannot be used as matching funds for your project. Chapter Law 54 of 2014 states: “No funds from this appropriation may be used as a required match or be considered a local share to other state programs or to leverage state aid or grants including but not limited to the apportionment of aid under the education law.”
Additional project costs that are not paid for by the aid or required local match funds can be paid for by SAMS funds.
A: If the project for which a library has submitted an application is or will be funded in whole or in part through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, bond anticipation notes, revenue anticipation notes, or some similar form of obligation, the application must include the applicable authorizing resolutions adopted by the library or issuing party authorizing the bond issuance, a detailed breakdown of the expected or actual sources and uses of bond proceeds, equity or other funding sources for the project, a copy of the final official statement relating to the applicable issuance if available and a current cost estimate of the entire project including:
Keep in mind that since State Aid for Library Construction projects are funded with tax exempt bonds, the only portion of the project that can be funded with bonds is the total cost of the project minus the amount allocated that is being requested.
A: The project, if not already started at the time of application, must begin within 180 days after approval. (**The date of approval is the date on the official electronic approval notification from the NYSL/Division of Library Development to applicants informing them that their application for funding has been approved.) Applicants must indicate assurance on the application that the project will begin within 180 days of approval. The 180-day certification must be completed and submitted to the NYSL/Division of Library Development when requested.
A: There is a three-year allowance for project completion under State Aid for Library Construction. For applications submitted for FY 2022, projects must be completed by June 30, 2024. If a project is not completed by the end of the second year, June 30, 2023, the library or library system must file a progress report with the State Library for an extension to be granted for the third year. There is no allowance for further extensions beyond the three years. If a project is not completed by June 30, 2024, the State Library may request the return of any unexpended state money allocated for the project.
A: No. A project cost estimate that is a reliable assessment of true project cost must accompany the application. Such estimate must be in the form of a quote document from a contractor(s) to assure that the full cost of the project can be reliably assessed. If the construction project is multifaceted and more than one contractor will be involved, e.g., an electrician, plumber and carpenter, a quote document from each contractor is required. Cost estimates from architects, engineering firms, or construction consulting firms are not acceptable.
A library does not have to have entered into final agreements with a contractor(s) at the time of application. However, allowing for reasonable increases in the cost of construction from the time the application is submitted, great care should be taken to assure that the cost estimates reflect anticipated true cost to ensure that sufficient funds are available to pay for the cost of the project, minus the allocation amount.
A: Per Education Law 273-a, fifty percent of the allocation is payable after January 1, 2022, pending final approval of the application if not rendered prior to that date. Forty percent of the allocation is payable after April 1, 2022, pending application approval. Based on prior year schedules, libraries should expect to receive final project approval from the State Library and the first 90% payment during Summer 2022. The remaining ten percent is payable upon project completion and filing of an approved FS-10-F, post-project photographs, and a Certificate of Occupancy if applicable to the project.
A: No. The State Library will take action to trigger that payment to each of the libraries receiving aid under the construction program.
A: No project activity changes can be made during the program activity period without the approval of the State Library.Back to top
A: Sixty percent of the $34 million ($20.4 million) is available solely for member library projects. That sixty percent is based on population served. The amount received by each system for its member libraries is no greater than the ratio of the population served by the system to the population of the state as a whole. Forty percent of the $34 million ($13.6 million) is available for use by the library system and/or its member libraries and is divided equally among the 23 public library systems. Each library system receives the same amount.A chart detailing the distribution of the $34 million
A: If a library system is unable to use all of its formula allocation, the State Library will reallocate the unused portion of the system’s funds to other approved construction projects in other library systems.Back to top
A: Yes. New and renovated public library and library system buildings are required to be in compliance with all current ADA regulations, which include addressing specific requirements such as assistive listening devices and systems. Priority is given to construction projects that provide improved access to and use of building services by persons with physically handicapping conditions.
A: Public libraries, as described in Section 253(2) of NYS Education Law, are subject to the prevailing wage law. Free Association libraries are usually not subject to such law, unless they are involved in construction contracts that take place on municipal property or involve municipal use. In the case of Free Association Libraries, prudence would dictate that such libraries contact the Department of Labor and request a determination as to the applicability of the prevailing wage law in the particular circumstances then present. Projects subject to the prevailing wage law require the payment of certain minimum wages for all laborers, workers and mechanics, and it is vital that such information be provided to any party bidding on such a project.
A: SHPO, New York’s State Historic Preservation Office, is part of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The mission of SHPO is to help communities identify, evaluate, preserve, and revitalize their historic, archaeological, and cultural resources.
If your library building is 50 years old or older and/or the project involves ground disturbance and/or demolition, please read the following documents to determine if your project requires a SHPO approval:
If appropriate, an approval letter from SHPO must be attached to the library’s construction application as a signed PDF.
In the event a building is determined by SHPO to be of historical significance, the SHPO approval letter must specify the precise changes to the building that are being approved. Any project components not specifically approved in writing will not be considered for funding. In the event a building is determined by SHPO to lack historical significance, a letter to that effect from SHPO must accompany the application. Such letter may be used in subsequent years to comply with construction application requirements.
For more information about SHPO requirements, please call 518-237-8643. You will be directed to the regional office in the area where the library building is located.
A: The State Education Department’s Office of Facilities Planning is charged with enforcing the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code with respect to buildings, premises, and equipment as they relate to school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). If a public library is housed in a building owned or operated by a school district or BOCES and is applying for construction aid for a project costing $10,000 or more, the library must submit plans and specifications to the Office of Facilities Planning for approval before the application will be considered for funding by the State Library.
NOTE: The designator “school district public library” does not necessarily indicate ownership of a library building by the school district; rather, it refers only to the boundaries of population served by the library. OFP approval is required only if the building is OWNED by a school district or BOCES, regardless of the library’s service area.
For more information about SED Office of Facility Planning requirements, please call 518-474-3906. You will be directed to the appropriate Project Manager for the school district in which the library building is located.
A: The State Environmental Quality Review Act requires certain entities, including state agencies, public benefit corporations and certain libraries, to evaluate the potential environmental consequences of certain activities and to minimize adverse impacts. Accordingly, a SEQRA review must be undertaken in connection with projects funded under State Aid for Library Construction.
All applicants must complete the Short Environmental Assessment Forms (SEAF) as part of the application process. A map showing the location of the project must be attached to SEAF Part 1.
In most cases, the SEAF will suffice to commence the SEQRA process. In certain cases, however, the applicant may need to complete a long form EAF.
More information on Environmental Assessment Forms.
A: Yes. If the project requires that a local “Certificate of Occupancy” be obtained at the completion of the project, a copy of the certificate must be scanned and attached as part of the Final Project Completion activities. Note: the library cannot receive final payment until all of the required Final Project Completion activities are complete.
Examples of when a “Certificate of Occupancy” is typically required include: New Building Construction; Construction or renovation that significantly changes the current or intended use of library space. For example, a space that is currently used for offices or storage and is converted to public use space would possibly require a certificate of occupancy. Be sure to consult and follow local government laws as they apply to certificates of occupancy to ensure compliance.Back to top