New York State Library – Division of Library Development

The New York State Library’s Division of Library Development, working in partnership with the 73 library systems, brings cost-effective, modern library services to the millions of people who use New York’s 7,000 academic, public, school and special libraries.

Who We Are

Library Development is a major unit of the New York State Library. Organizationally, the New York State Library is located within the Office of Cultural Education within the New York State Education Department and is led by Bernard A. Margolis, State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries.

The New York State Library has two major divisions, Library Development and the Research Library. Both serve the people and the libraries of the State. Carol A. Desch, Coordinator for Statewide Library Services, directs the day-to-day operations of the Division of Library Development. The Director of the Research Library, which includes the State Library’s Talking Book and Braille Library, is Loretta Ebert.

Library Development currently has fifteen staff – the director, eight Library Development Specialists, one webmaster, three program assistants and two administrative assistants. Library Development’s offices are housed on the tenth floor of the Cultural Education Center building in Albany, New York.

What We Do

The State Library is a strong voice for New York’s libraries and library services at the local, State and Federal levels. State Library staff work with State and Federal government agencies that impact library services for all New Yorkers. Librarians, trustees, public officials and community leaders depend on the Division of Library Development to help find new ways of making library services and resources available to people of all ages.

In addition to providing statewide leadership and support for the improvement of library services, the Library Development staff also:

  • Make recommendations on statewide policy and planning to the State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries and the Board of Regents, including changes in laws and regulations that impact library services and programs.
  • Work with the State Librarian, the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries and other stakeholders and partners such as the Library Trustees Association of New York State and the New York Library Association to implement Regents policy for libraries and statewide services plans, including policies such as Free Direct Access, the Public Library Districts InitiativeDigital Inclusion and Fluency, and the extension of library services and programs to those New Yorkers who face difficulties in accessing library services (the educationally disadvantaged, members of ethnic or minority groups in need of special library services, the unemployed and in need of job placement assistance, those who live in areas underserved by a library, those who are blind, physically disabled, have developmental or learning disabilities, or those who are aged or confined in institutions).
  • Manage over $100 million in State and Federal grants-in-aid for more than 25 different statewide library services and programs that are codified in law and regulation and that benefit all types of libraries across the State.
  • Position New York’s libraries and library systems to take full advantage of other federal, state and private funding programs such as Federal IMLS grants, Federal E-rate Discounts, private Gates Foundation Grants, State and Federal Broadband and Technology Grants and more.
  • Act in an oversight, monitoring and advisory capacity, with staff regional liaisons assigned to the 73 library systems to assist systems and public libraries in achieving compliance with State Education laws, Commissioner’s Regulations and other State or Federal program guidelines.
  • Provide helpful information and expert advice for library staff and trustees on national trends, state initiatives and best practices through a variety of communication channels, including NYLINE, the State Library’s website, publications, conference exhibits, webinars, in person training and group presentations.

The Division of Library Development staff also coordinates:

  • chartering (incorporation) and registration (approval) of public libraries,
  • collection and dissemination of information and data about 756 public libraries and the 73 library systems (public, school and reference and research library resources systems),
  • statewide reading, literacy, technology, preservation and other library initiatives, and
  • certification (licensing) of public librarians for employment in New York State.
NEw York State Library with water feature

What the Library Community Values

According to a 2012 statewide survey of the library community, of the dozens of programs and services offered, the three most highly valued programs and services of the New York State Library are:

  • NOVELNY, the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library, providing free access to a rich array of e-resources 24/7 for all New Yorkers through over 5,600 local libraries.
  • Summer Reading at New York Libraries, providing a high-quality public library summer reading program to more than 1.7 million participants annually through over 1,000 local public libraries.
  • New York’s statewide program of 73 library systems, supported by State funds and working at regional levels to improve local library programs and services for all New Yorkers. Systems offer expert technical assistance, continuing education, cooperative technology and other resource sharing programs that no one library could possibly afford on its own.

These results were not surprising, as together, these three statewide programs touch more than 6,300 local libraries in every corner of the State. But many other programs, products and services of the State Library are equally important to those who use them, sometimes on a daily basis, to carry out their important work.

For example, there are invaluable resources located on the Library Development website to help trustees learn more about the legal and governance structure of their own library and how it compares to other public and association libraries across the State.

The website also includes helpful information such as:

Multiple years of State public library annual report data and national public library data is freely accessible to any New Yorker through an online product called Bibliostat Connect. Library boards and staff can use this online tool to conduct peer comparisons, review census and other demographic data and to create local advocacy materials.

Colorful online maps show public library types and service area boundaries by county, by library system and by legislative district.

The Chartering web pages include all the forms that a library board might need to establish a new library or to amend the library’s existing charter (incorporation).

A good way to get started is to visit the NYSL 101 factsheet for public library trustees at:

Get the Power of Information

Looking to the Future

The State Library is always looking to the future, working with library leaders and the library community and other partners interested in improving library services, to identify what services and programs New Yorkers will need in a constantly evolving world.

Envisioning where New York’s libraries will need to be in 2020 in order to best serve the needs of New Yorkers for library services, was a major initiative of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries that culminated in the publication of Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Services in New York State.

The sixty recommendations in this important document will shape the work of the State Library, libraries and library systems across the State for the foreseeable future. As the State Library works with the library community to implement these important recommendations for libraries of all types serving communities of all sizes, the Division of Library Development’s efforts will focus on achieving the following strategic goals through 2017:

Cover of 2020 plan with child reading on the cover
  1. All New Yorkers will have improved access to library resources that advance and enhance their personal, educational, and working lives.
  2. The New York State Library, library systems, and libraries will deliver new and improved programs that anticipate and meet New Yorkers’ constantly changing needs for library services.
  3. New Yorkers of all ages will perceive libraries as community learning spaces offering high-quality lifelong learning, literacy, and knowledge creation opportunities that enhance civic engagement and economic vitality.
  4. All New Yorkers will benefit from statewide programs and services of the New York State Library that effectively leverage private and public funding through collaboration and partnerships and maximize value in order to achieve goals one, two and three.

Library Development staff look forward to working with the Library Trustees Association of New York State and with our many other partners in “creating the future” …an exciting future in which all New Yorkers, regardless of their age or where they live, will have access to the library programs and services they need in order to lead productive and fulfilling lives.