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Facilities Planning for Your Library

December 2021 Recording

Watch the December 6, 2021 recording on YouTube .


Education Department Regulations (8 NYCRR) ยง 90.2 (a) (8) requires the board to "maintain a facility which meets community needs." While various formulas exist for determining the appropriate size of a library, the final determination of adequacy rests in the hands of the trustees. Square footage is only one factor in deciding whether a library meets the community's expectations. Location, internal arrangement, accessibility for all patrons, environmental quality, and intangibles such as ambiance all contribute to the overall adequacy of a library building. Trustee Handbook, pg. 65.

Facilities Plan

Creating an annual facilities plan for your library will help keep the Board and Director aware of upcoming projects. This plan should be refreshed at the end of each fiscal year and reserve funds should be established to save for critical projects. The library should also consider what will be viewed as general maintenance and what will be larger construction projects.

Your board should appoint a Facilities Committee to oversee the building and grounds, update annual building plans, and suggest cost estimates to the full board on a regular basis.

Planning Resources

Construction Project Team

Attorney: Small-scale maintenance and projects may not need attorney involvement, however, you will want to contact one before starting any large project.

Architect: The person or firm who will be designing your building, renovation, or space. Many firms have worked with libraries in the past, be sure to conduct interviews so everyone is comfortable with the potential relationship.

Contractors: The person or firm(s) who will be completing the work for your overall project.

Clerk of the Works: A person employed by an architect or a client on a construction site. The role is primarily to represent the interests of the client in regard to ensuring that the quality of both materials and workmanship are in accordance with the design information such as specification and engineering drawings, in addition to recognized quality standards.

Project Managers: The person or firm overseeing the overall progress of the project. Often times this is handled by the architect for smaller projects.

Library Team: While there will be many professionals involved with projects, be sure the library's interests are not lost. The library should have an internal team that is involved with clearing project amendments, risk assessments, and bid documents.


Seeking competition in procurement is important in our business and often in our personal lives too. In our personal lives, we seek competition instinctively when we shop at the grocery store, or when we purchase a new or used vehicle. No one needs to tell us that it’s a smart idea to make price and quality comparisons between different stores and different manufacturers in an effort to obtain the most favorable terms for our own money.

In our business lives we also know that we need to seek competition, but rather than just relying on common sense, seeking competition is often required by State law or by locally adopted policy. If managed effectively, State and local procurement requirements can increase competition and reduce the cost of goods and services of acceptable quality. A fair and open competitive process will also help discourage favoritism in public procurements, encouraging additional vendors to compete for your business. Increasing your organizational knowledge about State and local requirements will help you create a proactive, competitive environment in your procurement function. Seeking Competition in Procuement, pg. 5

Procurement policies are required to have a policy guiding their procurement procedure, even for services not subject to competitive bidding.

Public library boards, in addition to compliance with New York State competitive bidding statutes, are required to adopt a written procurement policy and procedures governing all purchases of goods and services; even those that are not subject to competitive bidding, in accordance with New York State General Municipal Law. Soliciting competition through competitive bids, requests for proposals, written and/or verbal prices quotes is considered an effective process by the State Comptroller. Association libraries are also encouraged to follow such responsible practices. Trustee Handbook, pg 52-53.

Procurement Resource

Public Bidding

Going out to bid for a project can be a daunting task. Generally, for larger projects, your architect will be able to assist during the bidding process. A non-exhaustive list of things to consider include the following:
  1. Legal Notice: Publicising an invitation to bid with a timeframe for responses, the purpose of the project, deadlines, specs/drawings, conditions, etc.
  2. Instructions to Bidders: Definition of terms, document availability, examination of the site, format for proposals, qualifications of bidders, pre-bid conferences, etc.
  3. Legal Compliance: Legal constraints with prevailing wage, General Municipal Law, Wicks Law, or other legal issues.
  4. Project Management: Commencement of work, progress schedules, coordination with other contractors, etc.
  5. Change Orders: How will change orders be communicated, how will questions be answered for all bidders.
  6. Insurance: Mitigate risks to the library.
Remember, going out to be is a formal process. All actions, no matter how small, need to be documented so all potential bidders are treated equally.

General Advice

  • Review library building with an outside perspective.
  • Understand the staff perspective.
  • Understand the patron's perspective.
  • You should always be maintaining, fixing, or improving library space.
  • Take responsibility for the building, it is your most expensive asset.

Funding Facilities Projects

Bonds: When the time comes for a major expansion or renovation, public and association libraries generally seek public approval to borrow the necessary funds from a financial institution or to issue municipal bonds through an authorized agency such as a school district, Community Development Corporation or the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). Libraries are not authorized under state law to issue municipal obligations on their own. Such financing is quite complex. Professional legal and financial assistance is strongly recommended.Trustee Handbook, pg. 57

Capital Campaigns: Fundraising for library construction. Keep in mind that Public Libraries have limitations on fundraising as it raises questions about the appropriate use of public funds.

NY Construction Aid Program: Funding from the State that supports library projects.

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