State Senator James L. Seward today announced that area libraries have been awarded state public library construction funds to assist with construction or renovation projects. The money is separate from special grants recently announced by Seward
"The program enacted by the legislature offers our public libraries the opportunity to renovate and upgrade their facilities to meet the code and technological changes of the new century," Seward said. "It is important to support our public libraries because they are centers of our communities."
In Cortland County, Cortland Free Library will receive $33,750 for replacement of its roof. Peck Memorial Library in Marathon is in line for $12,174 for reconfiguring its existing space to expand square footage of library and opening up east side of building to unify 1st floor as library. Phillips Free Library in Homer has been awarded $65,623 for reconstruction of interior and exterior of existing building; purchase of furniture and equipment for newly renovated space.The grants flow from a special allocation of $14 million in capital funds for public library construction provided by the state legislature in the 2007-2008 state budget.
A recent survey showed a documented need for public library construction and renovation projects totaling $2.1 billion. More than 40 percent of the over 1,000 public library buildings in communities across New York are more than 60 years old. Another 30 percent are more than three decades old. Many of New York’s local public libraries are unable to accommodate users with disabilities, cannot provide Internet and computer and other electronic technologies to users because of outdated and inadequate electrical wiring, do not have sufficient space to house the library's collection, and lack sufficient space for public access computers.
The state grants help local libraries and library systems build new libraries or additions, update electrical wiring to accommodate computer technology, meet standards of energy efficiency, renovate facilities to provide wheelchair accessible entrances and lavatories to provide full accessibility to library users with disabilities, and provide meeting rooms to accommodate community needs.
Annual state funding for public library construction is $800,000. The announced grants are in addition to regular budget support.