Assemblymember Barrett’s legislation supporting public libraries signed into law


Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Dutchess/Columbia) announced that legislation she sponsored directing critical construction grant funds to libraries in economically distressed communities was signed into law (Ch. 281 of 2019).

“Throughout our state, libraries play an increasingly critical role in our communities from internet services to early literacy to help with job searches and interviews,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “But many libraries in economically distressed communities struggle with outdated technology, inadequate facilities and lack of ADA compliance. This bill will make Construction Grant funding more accessible to those libraries by reducing the matching requirement.”

          Jeremy Johannesen, Executive Director of the New York Library Association (NYLA), said, “The New York Library Association is grateful to see this expanded flexibility implemented in the law, and the increased accessibility to funding by our smallest and most in-need libraries that it brings. Our thanks go out to Assemblymember Barrett for her leadership and ongoing support of libraries and the access to information at technology that they make possible for their patrons.”

The Public Library Construction Grant program currently provides $34 million to public libraries across the state for renovation and construction projects, but many libraries do not have the matching funds to apply for the program. Barrett’s legislation lowers the matching threshold to 10% for public libraries in economically distressed communities, defined as those communities with higher than average poverty rates and who’s libraries demonstrate that they cannot provide 25% of a project cost. This change makes it easier for these libraries to receive much-needed construction grants to keep their facilities safe, accessible and up to date.

In addition, this legislation makes permanent a 2011 law, which was set to expire in March 2020, authorizing funding of up to 75% of project costs from the state for struggling communities.