Trustee Newsletter April 2021

Libraries and Fines

While COVID-19 halted many library activities, the trend toward eliminating fines and fees gained quite a bit of momentum over the past year. Assessing fines and fees has proved to be a barrier to service and that disparity in resource access was highlighted by the overwhelming financial hardships many people faced due to unemployment or underemployment and the economic downturns caused by the coronavirus.

As a result, we have received an increased number of inquiries about eliminating fines and fees from member libraries. In the Pioneer Library System, eighteen of the 42 libraries have adopted some form of a fine-free model and several additional Boards of Trustees are currently in discussions to eliminate fines and fees on some or all of their circulating materials. Models include no fines on children/teen materials, no fines on print materials and audiobooks, and no fines on any materials (including DVDs and video games). Eliminating fines/fees is a policy change that directly supports the community members that the library has been charged to serve and aligns with the American Library Association’s Core Values of Librarianship.

If your library is considering eliminating fines and fees, here are some helpful resources:

Additionally, the Pioneer Library System can assist your Director with gathering data related to fines/fees and provide the Board with options for obtaining stable funding so that the library does not have to consider fines/fees necessary for operations. Please reach out; we are happy to guide you in any way that we can.

Legislative Bill Updates

Senate Bill S2588A (COVID-19 Vaccine Pay)

This bill relates to granting time off for public employees to receive a COVID 19 vaccination.

Signed by the Governor.

Section one of this bill adds a new section 159-c to the civil service law to grant public officers or employees four hours leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, unless such officer or employee shall a greater amount of time under a collectively bargained agreement. Source:

From the Governor's Update:

[Govenor Cuomo] signed legislation granting employees time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine. No employee should be penalized for needing time off to get vaccinated. Under this new law, public and private employees will be granted up to four hours of excused leave per shot that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. This legislation takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill S4435 (Trustee Education Legislation)

This bill relates to requiring members of a board of trustees of public, free association, and Indian libraries to complete two hours of continuing education per year.

Currently in committee. Trustees are not yet required to complete annual training; I will be sure to keep everyone posted as this develops. Source:

Build America's Libraries

The Build America's Libraries Act is a piece of legislation that aims at investing $5 billion dollars in our countries libraries. The American Library Association is estimating that a minimum of $10 million (but upwards of $100 million) will be available per state depending on population. The funding will be administered through the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and will prioritize funding to libraries serving marginalized communities (i.e. high poverty levels). Eligible projects include needs assessment/master planning; new facilities; bookmobiles; accessibility; safety; tech; environmental impact (e.g. energy efficiency measures, sustainable design); resilience (seemingly, the resiliency of facilities and part of the first restorer role in the face of extended power outages, floods, hurricanes, etc.)

The Act is currently soliciting co-sponsors. ALA's goal is to have 100 congress people by National Library Week (April 4-10).

[This] legislation would provide $5 billion to support long-term improvements to library facilities, including addressing needs that have arisen due to COVID–19, to enable libraries to better serve rural, low-income and underserved areas, as well as people with disabilities and other vulnerable library users. Source:

Below is a summary of the act as well as the letters written to Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer that were mentioned on Friday. If you would like to take action on the Build America's Libraries Act, I would encourage you to complete ALA's Advocacy request here. For more information, take a look at ALA's Advocacy Page.

Federal Government Invests $200M in Libraries and Museums to Stimulate American Communities

While we are unsure how these funds will be distributed or how they will impact libraries, it is good news to know that $6,213,213.00 in federal funding will be available to New York.

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced that President Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which designates $200 million in pandemic response funding for IMLS. Yesterday, both chambers of Congress approved the stimulus plan, a $1.9 trillion response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The $200 million investment will enable IMLS to efficiently provide critical funding to State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs), located in every state and territory and with reach into local communities across the U.S. IMLS will also offer grants to museums, libraries, and Native American and Native Hawaiian communities, so that they may to continue to respond to the COVID-19 health emergency.

The forthcoming grant awards will support the vital programs and services these institutions provide to their communities, including those they were able to offer in new capacities throughout the past year.

“The coronavirus pandemic persists in taking its harsh toll on communities. This infusion of support for America’s vital community institutions is crucial,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “The need for access to information for health, job, educational, and unemployment resources continues across the country, especially in communities that were already vulnerable. We are dedicated to reaching those who need this funding the most as quickly as we can, through U.S. states and territories and directly to libraries and museums.”

For more details about the SLAA funding, please see the state allotment tables [New York: $6,213,213.00].

The passage of ARPA comes one year after the 2020 WHO declaration of the coronavirus pandemic. In March 2020, $50 million in CARES Act funding was also allocated for IMLS. For more information about IMLS CARES Act awards, please visit

For more information about IMLS, please visit and subscribe to email news updates.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies

State Budget Update

As of today, the FY 2022 State Budget has not been finalized. We anxiously await to hear the funding decisions for library aid for the coming year.

NYLA's 2021 Legislative Ask

NYS Library Operating Aid: $123.1M

Increased aid is needed to support the foundational framework of New York State libraries, improving the lives of residents of all ages, abilities and economic status.

Adequate funding is needed to support school, public, and academic libraries and library systems.

NYS Library Construction Aid: $45M

Increased investment is needed to maintain and develop the physical infrastructure of New York State’s libraries, in order to ensure a safe, accessible and sustainable environment for the future.

The New York State Library estimates the deferred maintenance need at over $1.6B.

Over half of New York’s libraries are over 60 years old.
Investments allow libraries to invest in energy-efficiency and support the local construction industry.

Developing Policies Recording

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the Developing Library Policies Trustee Workshop. We had 46 Trustees and Directors ask questions and listen to Suzanne, and I discuss policy development. The recording, as well as the Owwl Docs page, can be found by visiting Trustee Workshop Resources . You can also go directly to the page by clicking here .

Upcoming Trustee Workshops

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