The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) is a federated library system uniting 23 New York State chartered public library service areas within Erie County . The County Tax for Library Purposes as well as additional County funding pays to support OPERATING EXPENSES and LIBRARY MATERIALS. The library buildings themselves are not owned by the B&ECPL, but in most cases by the city, town or village in which they reside. As each facility owner pays for, builds and owns the building, the size, features and amenities of an individual library are locally determined.
B&ECPL Central Library Also Houses Library System Functions
Library Systems serve individual libraries in a role similar to that performed by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) for school districts. At the B&ECPL those functions, housed at the Central Library, serve every library in the System. System services include managing the on-line catalog, circulation system, telephone and email reference, electronic databases, automation, acquisition, cataloging, library material processing, repair damaged materials, program development, inter-library loan and shipment of requested books and other library materials amongst the 52 libraries.
B&ECPL charges no fees to the individual libraries within the System for services. Further, these libraries do not have to pay for their books as well as audio and video materials, which are purchased and paid for centrally (supported by Erie County capital funds). To supplement New York State aid that has been mostly stagnant for years, other Library systems in the State, charge individual libraries fees depending upon the service levels received (for example, an individual library might pay a fee for online catalog/request service or elect not to offer the online features to their users). For the individual libraries in those systems, this is on top of having to fund the purchase of computers and most of their books and audio and video materials.
Single libraries could not function without these services, and the cost of them on an individual basis would likely be higher because of the loss of "group purchasing power.