The Arnett Branch of the Rochester Public Library is scheduled to receive $93,135 for structural improvements.
Arnett Branch is one of two libraries in Monroe County to get money from the state Education Department, which awarded $14 million to public libraries across the state. The awards were announced Sept. 22.
The funds for Arnett Branch will go toward roof restoration, flashing and replacement of insulation at the library at 310 Arnett Blvd.
The Central Library’s Bausch & Lomb building at 115 South Ave. is scheduled to receive $510,516 for essential upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to ensure adequate air exchange for COVID operations.
Projects eligible for funding included financing broadband infrastructure projects, new construction, additions and renovations. The projects can include roof replacement, the purchase and installation of alternative energy sources, new HVAC systems, windows, doors and lighting systems; electrical upgrades; and construction of new or replacement of walkways and parking lots. New furniture, shelving and equipment, including computer equipment, can be purchased for new or newly renovated space.
Renovations designed to provide accessibility for patrons with disabilities is a high priority. Priority is also given to projects that will extend library services to people residing in geographically isolated and economically disadvantaged communities.
“Libraries have been instrumental during the pandemic, providing innovative and relevant ways to meet the needs of the communities they serve,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said in a news release. “These important funds enable libraries to improve the infrastructures necessary to support a lasting expansion of equitable and accessible services that New York’s libraries provide.”
State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said the money will help libraries continue with their integral role. “With these funds, our wonderful librarians and staff will be better equipped to help close the digital divide with the necessary infrastructure and accessibility improvements that make urgently important services available to all.”
Construction funds are allocated to New York’s 23 public library systems based on formulas in Education Law. Member libraries apply for the funds allocated to their public library system. Each library system’s governing Board of Trustees then prioritizes the projects and sends approved project applications with recommended project awards to the State Library. After State Library review, applications are sent to the Dormitory Authority of New York State for final review and approval.
The $14 million in capital funds for state aid for library construction are provided in the 2020-21 enacted state budget.
In the 2021-22 State Budget, $34 million was provided for projects that will be announced in summer 2022. The deadline to submit an application for that funding to the New York State Library is Oct. 6, 2021.