Q: What is a library system and what does one do?
A: In short, a library system is both a support system for libraries and the general population. A great deal of materials, technology, and knowledge goes towards providing people with modern library services, which can be far too much for rural, one-person libraries. Library systems provide a multitude of services – such as materials that can be shared among libraries, delivery services, checkout software, financial and reporting assistance, etc. – to ease the burden on libraries. Library systems also provide services directly to those who can’t visit a library through the distribution of ebooks and other online content and information tools. Library systems also serve as a means of communication and representation between the state government and libraries and the patrons, ensuring that funding and support keeps coming.

Q: Does CEFLS decide what happens in libraries?
A: No. While we provide support and representation for the 30 public libraries, we do not have control over their operations. Each library is an independent operation with their own staff, director, and board. We will, of course, give each library support and advice on how to run their libraries in the best possible way, but we cannot dictate how they actually run. That being said, in order to receive funding from New York State, libraries are held to certain standards, and we assist them in holding those standards if they need it.

Q: Can I get a library card from the library system?
A: No, a library system does not tend to issue their own cards beyond very rare circumstances. If you’d like to get a library card that can be used in any of the 30 libraries in our service area and for online resources, you can contact your nearest local library for more details. You can find their contact information and current hours right here on our website.

Q: Can I only return my book to the library I checked it out from?
A: No! You can return any item you’ve checked out from any library in our service area to any other library in our service area. Live in Dannemora, but work in Plattsburgh? Feel free to drop off that book at either location. Our van drivers will ensure that whatever is returned will end up back at its home library.

Q: Can I walk into the library system and check out a book?
A: Our office is not open to the public. We do, however, have a collection of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and other materials that help bolster the collection throughout our service area. To check out any of these items, simply contact your local library or request an item through the online catalog to be picked up at your library.

Q: Why am I on a “wait list” for an ebook? If they’re digital, shouldn’t I be able to read it whenever I want?
A: While we would love for that to be the case, we cannot control the limits placed on digital items by publishers and companies. The majority of ebooks and e-audiobooks (along with many other forms of digital content) are leased out to us by the publishers who limit how many people can read it at one time, how many times it can be checked out before it must be leased again, and how long of a period it can be leased for.

Q: Why does CEFLS provide services for prison libraries?
A: The main reason comes down to one word: recidivism. Recidivism is the likelihood of a person convicted of a crime to reoffend. And studies have shown that the rate of recidivism is directly related to the education of the offender. What we vie to do is supply current inmates of correctional facilities with reading materials to help improve their literacy skills. If the main reason why a person might resort to breaking the law is due to educational disadvantages, then improving their education decreases the likelihood that they return to crime once released from prison.

Q: What is a “target group” or “special population”?
A: CEFLS receives funding for our Outreach department to provide services to 9 groups, which we tend to refer to as “target groups” or “special populations”. These groups include people who are developmentally and/or learning disabled, those who are educationally disadvantaged, ethnic minorities in need of special services, people who are geographically isolated, individuals who are physically handicapped, people who are residents of institutions, senior citizens, people who are unemployed or underemployed, and individuals who are visually impaired or blind. The Outreach department does their best to provide traditional and modern solutions to bring the best of library services to as many people as possible.