Fact Sheet

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program
  Fact Sheet
March, 2013


The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then the MPLCP has helped build 51 new library buildings and 126 addition/renovation or conversion projects. The MPLCP also awards planning and design grants to support public libraries as they prepare to apply for a construction grant.

Grants & Green Incentive
Planning and Design grants
assist libraries in preparing to apply for MPLCP construction grants. Grant funds help with the preparation of library building programs, project management services, site investigations, soil studies, architectural design and engineering services for feasibility studies, schematic designs and site plans, and construction cost estimates. Grants are capped at $50,000 and must be matched with $25,000 in local funding.

Construction grants assist libraries with major capital improvement projects that involve building new facilities, expanding and renovating an existing library building, or adapting and reusing another building for use as a library. Funds pay for a portion of eligible project costs. These costs include the purchase of real property, design and engineering services, project management services, site preparation, construction and fixed capital equipment.  Grant funds do not pay for furniture, computers, or landscaping and paving. The average grant award is 50% of the eligible costs. Local financial commitment of no less than 25% of the project’s eligible costs is required. 

Green Library Incentives help offset the cost of incorporating environmentally friendly and energy-efficient systems and materials in library building projects.  Projects that attain the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification will receive 2% to 3.5% in additional state funds administered by the MBLC.

To be eligible for an MPLCP grant, applicant libraries must be certified by the MBLC as meeting minimum state standards for public library service and must have a long-range plan on file with the Board. Any project funded under the program must meet the 20-year needs of the applicant's municipality for library service. Proposals for new buildings and addition/renovations must be based upon a library building program that has been written prior to retaining an architect. Applicants must have local approval to apply for, accept and expend grant funds as well as approval for the proposed preliminary design.

MBLC Project Support
MBLC’s library building consultants provide support services to library directors and their trustees, building committees and architects. Services provided include assistance with: assessing space needs; project planning and advocacy; evaluating library building programs; organizing workshops and providing information for completing MPLCP applications, and evaluating architectural designs. Support services extend throughout all stages of actual construction.

How grants work:

  • On average, the state grant is 50% of the total eligible project costs. Communities typically raise the remainder of the funding through fundraising and municipal debt exclusion.
  • Once the MBLC awards a provisional grant award, the municipality has six months to secure local funding and sign a grant agreement (contract).
  • Grant funds are released for payment on the following schedule:
  • Upon signing a grant agreement with the MBLC – 20%
  • MBLC approval of the final project plans-20%
  • Completion of the public bidding process, signing of the contract with a general  contractor and issuance of the building permit – 20%
  • Certificate of occupancy and opening to the public for regular library services-20%
  • Certifications that construction contracts are complete and all liens have been released– 20%
  • A project will receive funding through the MBLC’s Green Incentive after documentation verifying official U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification is submitted to the MBLC. 

Waiting List libraries:

  • Wait listed libraries will receive their grants in order as funds become available through the state’s Five–Year Capital Plan. If funds are available in the MBLC's approved cap in the Five-Year Capital Plan, the MBLC may offer a provisional grant to a project on the Waiting List that has confirmed local funding.
  • If a library that received a provisional grant the first library on the Waiting List will receive a provisional grant award.

In August 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed the General Governmental Needs Bond Bill that authorized the expenditure of $95 million for public library construction projects. In August 2008, the Board awarded provisional construction grants to the libraries that had been on a Waiting List since 2005. In July 2011 the Board awarded provisional construction grants to eight libraries and placed fifteen others on a Waiting List. In May, 2012 the Board approved the addition of five communities to the waiting list. In October, 2012, the MBLC awarded provisional grant awards to eight communities that had been on the Waiting List.

More information about the program is available on the Board's Web site, http://www.mass.gov/mblc

This Web site, and other programs of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, is funded in part with funds from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning.
Page last updated on 06/26/2013