System Orientation for New Trustees

February 7, 2022 Recording

Visit YouTube for the recording of this workshop. This recording is 28 minutes in length.

About Library Systems in New York

Facts About 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 Library Systems

  1. Consolidated (3): Chartered as a single entity under a board of trustees (Brooklyn, The New York Public Library, and Queens Borough Public Library).
  2. 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).
  3. Cooperative (16): An association created by agreement of boards of chartered member libraries, which retain their autonomy.

Public Libraries 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

About Our System


The Pioneer Library System (PLS) is a New York State-chartered, cooperative public library system serving the forty-two public libraries in Livingston, Ontario, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. One of twenty-three public library systems in New York State, our System was created to enhance the service of and promote cooperation among its member libraries.

Each public library is governed by its own board of trustees. A nine-member board representing the forty-two member libraries oversees the administration of the Pioneer Library System.

Library System exists to support the expansion and improvement of public library services. Systems provide consultation services, technology support, advocacy, and guidance on library-related topics to their member libraries. Our System also acts as a forum for discussion, coordination of services, and distribution of State and Federal aid across the four counties.

Relationship with Member Libraries

The Pioneer Library System's main priority is to further library services within our region. The best way to do this is to support the 42 member libraries in our four counties.

Each library has its own governing board and director just like the System. We maintain our independence from one another and act as partners when it comes to services.

System Services

Our System provides services that may not be available at the local library. Specifically, we focus on macro-level programs like the following:
  1. Budget Vote Support and Funding Consultations
  2. Policy Development
  3. Minimum Standard and Regulation Compliance
  4. Trustee Consultations and Training
  5. Training and Continuing Education for Library Staff
  6. Annual Report Training and Support
  7. Long-Range Planning Review
  8. System-Wide Outreach Projects
  9. Computer and Networking Support
  10. Coordinated PC Purchasing
  11. Negotiating Telecommunication (Bandwidth) E-Rate Program
  12. Administration of Construction Aid Program

System Funding

State Aid

Like most cooperative Library Systems, we rely on State Aid for a vast majority of our funding. More than 80% of our overall budget falls within the State Executive Budget under Education. These are the funds that we advocate for annually by appealing to our local legislators in the Senate and Assembly. Looking at years past, State funding for libraries has been chronically underfunded for the last 14 years according to State Education Law.

State Aid comes in the form of categorical (funding with a specific purpose) and non-categorical (our general operating) aid. Through this funding, the System provides the services listed above.

OWWL Cost Shares

Another portion of our budget comes from Member Libraries in the form of OWWL Cost Shares. These funds are paid annually and offset the cost of Evergreen and cataloging services. The amount your library pays goes to salaries (staff involved with Evergreen and cataloging), annual equipment hosting with Equinox, Evergreen costs, and BookWhere (cataloging).

The System subsidizes 20% of the OWWL Cost Shares from our non-categorical operating budget.

What New Trustees Should Know

About the System

  1. The System supports member libraries
  2. Trustees have a direct line of communication to the System through the Executive Director
  3. The System is not a regulatory agency
  4. The System has no control over local decisions


To make sure that you are up to date with local library information, we recommend that you review the following documents:
  1. Charter;
  2. Bylaws;
  3. Policies;
  4. Financial Statements;
  5. Board Meeting Minutes; and
  6. Trustee Handbook

Additional Information

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