Thousands in state aid fund construction at library


The Baldwin Public Library received $168,000 through the State Aid for Library Construction program to replace damaged spandrel glass, according to state and library officials.

The funding is part of the State Education Department’s new initiative, allocating a total of $34 million to support construction and renovation projects in 197 public libraries across the state.

“All of the money went toward the spandrel glass,” Elizabeth Olesh, the library director, said. “You need to apply beforehand and tell the state what you are planning to do with the money. The library has to match the amount that they receive.”

Spandrel glass is designed to be non-transparent to help hide features between the floors of a building, including vents, wires and mechanical equipment.

“We have just applied for some funding toward a new digital sign under the same program, state construction aid for libraries,” Olesh said. “I’m not sure how much we will get, and I won’t know until October.”

Assemblyman Brian Curran recently unveiled the allocation of state aid to support construction projects at several local libraries, including Baldwin.

“I am very pleased to announce that five of our local libraries will be receiving much-needed funds to renovate,” Curran said. “Local libraries are invaluable to our communities, as centers for not only reading but learning and exploration as well. Many happy memories are made in local libraries, and I cannot wait to see how they put these funds to great use to better our community.”

In addition to Baldwin, the libraries in Malverne, Rockville Centre, Oceanside and Freeport will also benefit from the program.

The state allocation comes three months after the Baldwin Public Library passed an $11.6 million referendum to renovate the library’s first and second floors. Although all of the recent state aid money will be used to replace the spandrel glass, the referendum and other projects at the library show that more financial assistance is needed from the state, officials said. With that extra money, the library could undergo additional construction projects that will improve the library’s services, they added.

The state aid that the library received for the spandrel glass was drawn from a capital fund appropriation, which was included in the 2022-23 state budget.

State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa praised the initiative, remarking that the funds will bring about various improvements aimed at enhancing library facilities and services.

“Thriving libraries are essential to thriving communities and to the wellbeing of all New Yorkers,” Rosa said. “Libraries give individuals the opportunity to learn, collaborate, gain new skills, and become active participants in their communities. This funding is not only critical to improving library infrastructure, but also to enriching the lives of New Yorkers in every region of the state.”

The improvements could include creating new building construction, upgrading electrical infrastructure, modernizing computer technology, and making libraries even more accessible.

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. stressed the importance libraries play in creating lifelong learning opportunities for all New Yorkers. Young added that investing in library infrastructure is critical to maintaining the vitality and accessibility of public libraries, enabling them to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

“This capital investment keeps our public library buildings accessible and vibrant so that they can meet the evolving needs of our communities now and long into the future,” he said.


Additional reporting by Mohamed Farghaly