Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) recently announced that three North Country libraries were awarded grants to help with construction projects: Plattsburgh Public Library, Saranac Lake Free Library, and Keene Valley Library. $341,902 was allocated to Plattsburgh Public Library to replace the exterior entrance ramp to the library and to replace the chiller compressor, $209,903 was allocated to Saranac Lake Free Library to install solar panels and energy-efficient building upgrades, and $18,788 was allocated to Keene Valley Library to build sound-proof spaces for patrons to use for webinars and phone calls. The funds are from $34 million in capital funds for public library construction and broadband infrastructure projects provided in the FY2022-2023 State Budget.
“Libraries are not just places where you can check out books,” said Jones. “From public programming to access to computers and Wi-Fi, libraries are the centers of their communities. I am proud to support this funding every year in the state budget and it is exciting to see libraries in the North Country take advantage of this program to enhance the library experience for their patrons.”
New York’s public libraries are in urgent need of renovation and upgrading. A recent survey showed a documented need for public library construction and renovation projects totaling more than $1.5 billion. More than half of the over 1,000 public library buildings in communities across New York are over 60 years old. Another third is more than three decades old. Many of New York’s local public libraries are unable to accommodate users with disabilities, are energy inefficient, cannot provide Internet and computer and other electronic technologies to users because of outdated and inadequate electrical wiring. Many do not have sufficient space to house the library’s expanding collection, address the need for adequate meeting room, or provide for public access computers.
Project activities and expenditures eligible for funding from the State Aid for Library Construction Program include financing construction of new library buildings, construction of additions to existing buildings, and the renovation and/or rehabilitation of existing space. Projects may include roof replacement, purchase and installation of alternative energy resources, new HVAC systems, windows, doors, lighting systems, electrical upgrades, EV charging stations, standby generators, and construction of new or replacement of parking lots. Broadband infrastructure projects are also eligible. New furniture, shelving, and equipment, including computer equipment, may be purchased for new or newly reconfigured or renovated space. Renovations designed to provide accessibility for patrons with disabilities are a high priority.
In the FY2023-2024 State Budget, the Legislature provided $34 million for projects that will be announced in the Summer of 2024.