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Construction: SHPO

A guide to the New York State Public Library Construction Aid Program

Welcome & Overview

Library buildings more than 50 years old must* submit an application to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for approval.  Projects with ground disturbance may also need SHPO approval.

*Some library projects are exempt from review if they are simple in nature and unlikely to affect the historic nature of the library - see The MOU section for more information,

*Libraries that have been determined by SHPO to have no historic significance are exempt from review. Submit the letter documenting that with every application,

Projects featuring ground disturbance more than 10 ft from a structure also require SHPO review. 

The application for SHPO approval is a separate portal:  The process is now paperless.  Documents, photos, etc, will be submitted through the portal.

View the recorded Webinar: Understanding SHPO | View the slides

After determination, SHPO will send a letter indicating 'no adverse impact' to the portal.  Upload this letter to the construction aid portal as a pdf.

SHPO impact letters are specific to the project described in the application and may now be used in subsequent years (unless the determination is that the building has no historic significance.)

You may wish to consult with SHPO at the outset of the process. A consultation early could help avoid complications later.  For the counties in our region, contact:

Mariana Montes Staines: 518-268-2142

SHPO Application Tips

  • After starting a new submission, the portal will send a token by e-mail. Use the token # to return to the portal.
  • Use 'Save and Continue' in the portal to safeguard data
  • For Agency - Select State Education Department
  • Combine photos in a word document or powerpoint slide  for easier uploading
  • It can take 2-3 weeks from submission to determination depending on te nature of the building and the scope of the project


The MOU is an agreement between the State Education Department and the Historic Preservation Department.

The crux of the agreement is that many construction activities undertaken by schools and libraries have no impact on the historic nature of a building.  The MOU identifies many such activities.  If your project can be located in the activity descriptions, you do not need to submit a formal application for SHPO approval.

The list of activities begins on page 5.

The MOU does not apply to buildings on the state or national register.