State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) today announced that community libraries throughout the 51stsenatorial district have been awarded a total of over $950,000 in public library construction grant funds.

“Our libraries are significant educational resources that also serve as community hubs,” Seward said. “In many towns and villages, the local library is also a historic landmark in need of costly technological and accessibility upgrades that must be accomplished while still maintaining the building’s traditional character.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, our local library administrators have met new challenges head-on and I applaud them for continuing to safely serve the public under these trying circumstances.”

The grants are from $34 million in capital funds for public library construction and broadband infrastructure projects provided in the 2019-20 state budget.

“Libraries have evolved a great deal over the years to continue to meet community needs, especially in the rural areas I represent. Electronic lending has skyrocketed and many people utilize the Internet at their local library to job search or catch up on news from around the globe.  Many adjustments have taken place over the past few months, but our local libraries are still vital community beacons,” Seward added.

The Little Falls Public Library received $8,438.00 as part of the package to improve access and increase safety.

Public library construction grants help local libraries and library systems to construct new library buildings, create additions to existing structures, update electrical wiring to accommodate computer technology, meet standards of energy efficiency, renovate facilities to provide full accessibility to library users with disabilities and provide meeting rooms to accommodate community needs.  New furniture, shelving, and equipment, including computer equipment, can be purchased for new or newly reconfigured or renovated space.  Renovations designed to provide accessibility for those with disabilities are a high priority.  Broadband infrastructure projects are also eligible

New York’s public libraries are in urgent need of renovation and upgrading.  A recent survey showed a documented need for public library construction and renovation projects totaling more than $1.5 billion.  More than 52 percent of the over 1,000 public library buildings in communities across New York are over 60 years old. Another 31 percent are more than three decades old.

Senator Seward is a past member of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries and a consistent advocate for libraries.  He has routinely received high marks from the New Yorkers for Better Libraries for his support of libraries.

“Assisting libraries with state funds takes the burden off local taxpayers while preserving and improving these valuable resources for generations to come,” Seward concluded.