T. 5/1/92 SBO:SK:Arthur DJ# 182-06-00019 JUN 03 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." cc: Records; CRS; Oneglia; Kaltenborn; Friedlander; Arthur UDD: Kaltenborn Klauber 01-00854

-2The 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 01-00855

SCLS Suffolk Cooperative Library System 627 NORTH SUNRISE SERVICE ROAD / BELLPORT, NEW YORK 11713 / TEL. 516-286-1600 October 21, 1991 Mr. Stewart Oneglia Civil Rights Division U.S. Department of Justice P.O. Box 66118 Washington, DC 20035-6118 Dear Mr. Oneglia: As per my conversation with Brenda Shepherd this morning, I am writing to request a written opinion as to whether the public libraries of Suffolk County, New York fall under Title II or Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Suffolk has 54 independent public libraries. One is a "municipal" library, one is a "special district" library, and all of the others are "school district" or "association libraries." Attached is a description of the public libraries of New York State and each of these types. The association libraries were created by groups of individuals as private, not for profit membership organizations, although they generally function in a

public capacity. The school district libraries were created by votes of the residents of the respective school districts. The special district library was created by the state legislature, and the municipal library is a department of its township. With the exception of the municipal library, each of these libraries has its own board of trustees and sets its own policies and budget. These budgets are generally voted upon by the residents of the district, although the taxes themselves are collected by the local school districts. We have had many conflicting opinions as to which Title of the ADA these libraries fall under, and obviously need this information as quickly as possible in order to assist them in meeting the regulations of this law. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Julie Klauber Outreach Services Administrator 01-00856

Libraries, Library Systems and Networks Some 7,600 libraries serve the people of New York State. Many of these libraries are linked with others in resource sharing systems and networks. These libraries have book collections of some 171 million volumes. Brief summary data on the several types of libraries are shown in the table on the preceding page. Public Libraries. The people of New York State are served by 733 chartered public libraries and over 390 branch libraries. Of these chartered libraries, 730 are members of the 22 public library systems. Some 63 percent of the libraries (463) in the State are small, serving fewer than 7,500 popu- lation. Only 105 of the libraries (and almost half of these are located on Long Island) serve a population of 25,000 or more. The three public libraries in New York City, (the Brooklyn, The New York and the Queens Borough public libraries) serve more than 40 percent of the population of the State.

In 1985 the total public library operating expenditure in New York State was $383 million. The main financial support for public libraries in New York State (an average of 70 percent) comes from local public funds ($274 million in 1985). The average per capita expenditure for public library service (including that for public library systems) in 1985 was $21.83. The Regents of The University of the State of New York charter (i.e., incorporate) the public libraries. A library serves a village, town, city, county, school district, a combination of these units, or in exceptional cases a special library district established by the Legislature. These libraries are subject to State Education Law and to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. A board of trustees governs each library, with specific powers and responsibilities under Education Law. Each public library board is autonomous. The four major types of public libraries (and the number in the State) are: Municipal (209). Created by a village, town, city, or county government (5-11 trustees appointed by local government). Association (392). Created by a membership association. Contracts with a unit of government or a school district to provide library services (525 trustees elected by the membership of the association). 5 01-00857