Fall 2015

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

Get Your Library Questions Answered!

Ask Joe Eisner

Fall 2015 issue of Trustee

A Service for LTA Members:


Another service of provided by LTA- have a question? Ask Joe by e-mail: or by calling toll- free: 1-866-720-8969.  (All questions are handled with appropriate discretion. The questions posted in Mr. Eisner’s columns are generalized frequently asked questions.)



Can a municipal appropriating body require the municipal library it sponsors to return unexpended funds to the municipality?



No. While the municipal governing board “…possesses budgetary control over the expenditures of a public library…. Once such library appropriation has been made the money is earmarked and becomes the property of the library trustees….” [emphasis supplied]) (Op State Compt 78-549, 1978). Additionally, “While a public library is sometimes viewed as an agency or department of a municipality or school district…. A public library, for a great may purposes, is considered an entity separate and independent from its sponsoring municipality or school district (Opns St Comp.  1982. No. 82-37 and citations therein) . Particularly we have recognized the relative independence of public libraries over fiscal matters n(Opns St. Comp. 1978, No. 78-549 and Opns St. Comp. 1976, 76-554, both unreported….)”  (Op State Compt 82-84, 1984.


Further, a public library commenced an action against a county for a declaratory judgment concerning powers and duties pertaining to management and fiscal control of the library; the court ruled: “: Library was distinct and separate corporation which had power and duty to determine and carry out policies and principles pertaining to operations of library and library personnel apart from county supervision…. Upon adoption of county budget, county share of library appropriation was fund for library purposes subject to exclusive management and control of library trustees, as restricted to audit powers of county comptroller and fiscal laws applicable to expenditure of public funds generally; county could not interfere with  trustees’ use and expenditure of library funds and unexpended funds from library appropriation remained separate property of library, McK Unconsolidated Laws ss6211-6227;  …Education Law ss272, 273)” (Buffalo and Erie County Library v County of Erie, 1991, 171 A.D. 2d 369, 577 N.Y.S. 2d 993 (A.D. 4 Dept., 1991).


However, “…[T]he town board, in determining the amount to be raised by taxes for library purposes, may take into account a library’s private source funds and, therefore, may request from the library information concerning such funds” (Op State Compt 93-15, 1993).


The foregoing should not be construed as legal advice, for which an attorney should be consulted.


Who Can Use this Service?

Any LTA member — library and system trustees and directors; librarians; and Friends (if your library is a member, you are a member!) — is welcome to contact Joe with a library question free of charge.


For more information about Joe Eisner’s experience and background, please click on the “Ask Joe Eisner” tab under “Resources and Links” on LTA’s website.

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