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New York State Standards

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In order to be eligible to collect ANY public funds, a public library in New York State must receive and maintain a "charter" granted by New York State. Through the Division of Library Development of the New York State Library, the State requires public libraries to meet minimum standards to maintain their charters. Failure to meet those standards will eventually result in a library losing its charter and along with the charter, its ability to receive ANY public funds (State or local), effectively forcing the library to close.

The standard that most directly impacts library operating costs mandates minimum weekly hours of service. The number of minimum hours of service is determined by the population of the library's chartered service area, specifically:

Population

Minimum Weekly Hours Open

Up to 500

12

500-2,499

20

2,500-4,999

25

5,000-14,999

35

15,000-24,999

40

25,000-99,999

55

100,000 and above

60

For example, based upon their respective populations, both the Town of Tonawanda (2000 census population 78,155) and the Town of Clarence (2000 census population 26,123) must provide their service area a minimum of 55 weekly open hours to maintain their New York State Charter. Since Clarence has only one library building, it must be open 55 hours per week. For service areas with more than one library location, such as the Town of Tonawanda , any individual library can be open less than the minimum 55 hours per week as long as the schedules are coordinated such that within the Town of Tonawanda there are 55 discrete hours per week in which at least one library is open.

In 2004, the Clarence Public Library was already operating at the minimum standard of 55 hours per week, so they could not reduce their weekly open hours. This limited the dollar amount of reductions feasible, while allowing that library to safely operate.

The five Town of Tonawanda Libraries were collectively open 212 hours per week. Therefore, they could reduce weekly open hours and save a correspondingly larger dollar amount, while still providing 55 discrete (or non-contiguous) open hours per week. Their reduced schedule provides a collective 150 hours per week. Tonawanda still has 95 more total hours of service than Clarence, in part due to Tonawanda 's higher population and population densities.