Use of State Aid and Nonresident Policies, A Summary of Two Surveys, November 2002 (v.6, n.1)


Use of State Aid to Public Libraries


In light of the 20% reduction of State Aid to Public Libraries over the last 2 years, an email survey was sent out to public library directors on October 8, 2002, asking them about their use of state aid and why it is important to them. Of the over 200 library directors who responded to the email request, almost everyone reported use of state aid in more than one category. The use of state aid for FY2002 and projected use for FY2003 are very similar.


fiscal year materials for library use staffing capital projects programming other save for future use
FY2002 66.35% 27.88% 31.25% 30.29% 37.98% 34.30%
FY2003 62.02% 32.21% 33.17% 24.04% 37.50% 31.73%

In the "other"category, the preponderance of responses were for technology related uses such as computer purchases and network membership. The second greatest "other" use is for construction related projects. Those who stated that they save their state aid, either in total or in part, plan to use the state aid for emergencies, when that rainy day comes, and also for future construction and capital improvement projects.

Below are just a few of the responses to the question, "Why is State Aid to Public Libraries important to you?"

--We do not have a budget for computers/technology at all! The state aid allows us to purchase supplies, furniture (like a new bookshelf) and computers and pay for CW/MARS access fees.

--The state aid pays for almost everything print or non-print.

--It provides a number of things that would not be possible without it due to limitations of the City Budget and restrictions on endowed funds. Some of our donations happened so long ago that computers were not even imagined! Without State Aid we would have to go much more slowly in providing Internet access - this is very important to our community where many people do not own their own computers. ...Indeed, we greatly depend on State Aid as one of our important resources to provide services.

--Becoming full members of a network we have seen dramatic increases in our network charges. State Aid is critical for maintaining our full member status.

--Without State Aid, the library would have to reduce hours by at least 25%.

--It is very instrumental in supporting the basic reason the public comes to our library–a quality collection. Our use of State Aid is very "bread and butter" and no frills.

--State Aid has been very important for my library because it provides extra money to support so many different projects and services. During the 90's we saved our State Aid and spent it on becoming a full member of C/WMARS. Because we were willing to spend so much of our own money and split the cost of the automation project it was much easier to get the Town Boards to support this very costly venture.

--Without it we could not afford to belong to the Minuteman consortium, nor offer computer access for the public, or programs for the public. It is essential to our services.

--It supplies financial planning support in the good times and a safety net in the bad. Our patrons benefit from it daily.

--It is vital to our operation. It allows us to provide services and programs beyond our limited budget and benefits every member of our community. Further cuts would be devastating.

--We purchase all our computers with state aid funds. We do not have the budget to do it any other way. We also make large repairs such as roof re-shingling, new windows etc. The town would not fund such projects unless the building was falling down on our heads.

--Since the State Aid money transcends a fiscal year there have been many times when book and material bills with an unacceptable due date have been paid from this account. We depend on this money...it is a life saver for public libraries!

--As a small public library, State Aid is absolutely essential to supplement town budget. Our entire programming and nearly one quarter of materials budget comes from State Aid and donations.

--Our library is in one of the poorer towns in Massachusetts and also has one of the highest property tax rates. Towns people are very supportive of the library both financially and as volunteers but there is only so much they can afford. State aid has been essential each year in stretching our budget to provide quality service to a deserving and grateful population.

--Our local appropriation is insufficient to fund library services in our town. State Aid to Public Libraries is a VITAL part of our budget.

Nonresident Policies

On September 4, 2002, an email survey was sent out to library directors asking if their library had a policy regarding library services to residents of other municipalities that are not certified to receive State Aid to Public Libraries. Only 73 directors, or about 20%, responded.

The results are as follows:

(1) 26% indicated that the library had a policy denying services to residents from non-certified communities; therefore 74%, or most of the responding libraries do not have a policy.

(2) of the libraries with no policy, only three directors said that their library charged residents from non-certified communities.

(3) in addition, of the libraries reporting no policy, 32% stated that their library would base their decision on a case by case review.



prepared by Dianne L. Carty, Head of state Aid and Data Coordination

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Page last updated on 09/20/2007