What are library districts?
There are two types of district options available for public and association libraries in New York state: special legislative district libraries and school district public libraries. Forming either type of district changes your funding mechanisms, the manner in which trustees are elected, your service area (usually), and your charter. When you form a district, your budget is voted on by the public, trustees run for office, and you receive a new charter that reflects your new service area, name if you change it, and type of library.
The main difference between a special legislative district and school district public library are the service area boundaries. If the service area is available, you could choose to form a district that mirrors the boundaries of your school district. If a school district boundary is not available (because another library resides within it) you would then form a special legislative district using the boundaries of a town, multiple towns, or even a set of census tracts.
This chart shows all of the districts formed in New York state since 1999. At the present time, we have only two district libraries in the North Country Library System, and those are the Potsdam Public Library (re-chartered as a school district public library in 2006) and the Oswego School District Public Library (re-chartered as a school district public library in 1999).
Why form a district?
There are several possible motivations and reasons why libraries decide to form a district. 1) Better, more equitably distributed, more stable funding. 2) A more accurate reflection of your true service area. 3) Taxation with representation. 4) Local funding comes from just one source (no more annual begging at village and town board meetings).
If you would like more information about forming a district, please invite your Consultant to a board meeting to discuss the options for your library.
Below are more helpful links to information about districts from the NYS Library web site:
- Public Library Districts: An Introduction
- Creating Public Library Districts in New York State: A How To Guide
- Service area maps: Jefferson | Lewis | Oswego | St. Lawrence
- Public Library Districts and Funding Options - a presentation by Libby Post, CEO / Founder, Communication Services