# 11 II-1.

2000 DJ# 182-06-00019 May 3, 1992

Ms. Julie Klauber Outreach Services Administrator Suffolk Cooperative Library System 627 North Sunrise Service Road Bellport, New York 11713 Dear Ms. Klauber: This responds to your request for an interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as applied to public libraries. The ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding how the ADA may apply to you. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of your rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. You requested an opinion on whether the public libraries of Suffolk County are covered by title II or title III of the ADA. Title II of the ADA applies to any "public entity," which is defined in accordance with section 201(1) of the ADA as any State or local government; any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government; and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter authority (as defined in section 103(8) of the Rail Passenger Service Act). Title III applies to public accommodations and commercial facilities, and defines "public accommodation" as a private entity that owns, leases (or leases to) or operates a place of public accommodation. The term

"private entity" is defined as a person or entity that is not a "public entity." The libraries in question would, therefore, be covered by title II if they are components of a State or local government. If they are not components of a State or local government, they would be covered by title III as private entities operating a place of public accommodation, i.e., a library. Generally speaking, the question of whether an entity is public or private is not difficult. For example, a municipal library, as a department of the township, would be a public entity covered by title II. The question may be difficult, however, where an entity has both public and private features. A library operated by a private organization would not be a "public entity" merely because it is open to the public. In such cases, it is necessary to examine the relationship between the entity and the government unit. The factors to be considered include whether the library is operated with public funds; whether the library employees are considered government employees; whether the library receives significant assistance from the government by provision of property or equipment; and whether the library is governed by an independent board selected by the members of a private organization or is elected by the voters or appointed by elected officials. We hope that this information is helpful. Sincerely,

Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division