State Aid to Public Libraries & ARIS Web Blog

Posts Tagged ‘library closings’

Does it really take three years to get re-certified in the State Aid program?

We are sometimes asked if it takes three years to get re-certified in the State Aid program.

I am not quite certain where this time table originated, but I imagine it has something to do with the calculation of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) — the average of the prior three municipal appropriations to the library, plus 2 1/2 percent.

The answer to how long it takes to become certified again after lapsing depends on the reason that the municipality and its library were not certified as meeting the statutory and regulatory requirements in the State Aid program, and for how long.

  • If a library closes due to a decimated or eliminated budget from the city or town and is certified in the State Aid program at the time, the municipality is, as of the date of the closing of the library, decertified in the program.  The library must then be open a full fiscal year (assuming it meets all of the other requirements) before being eligible to again apply for State Aid to Public Libraries.  So, depending on the timing and duration of the closure, it could be 1 or more years.
  • If a library applies for a waiver of the MAR and is denied by the Board of Library Commissioners, the municipality and its library will not be certified as of the date of denial (the February Board meeting).  The library will be eligible to apply for State Aid in the next fiscal year as long as the other requirements are being met.  If a waiver of the MAR is again applied for, that application will be assessed by the Board at their January meeting and an action taken at their February board meeting.  If no MAR waiver is needed, the municipality and its library could be certified as soon as the first Board meeting at which municipalities are certified, November.

So, as you can see, it really depends on the reason for the loss of certification in the State Aid to Public Libraries program.

Please feel free to contact Dianne Carty or Liz Babbitt with any questions regarding the State Aid to Public Libraries Program.

Posted under State Aid to Public Libraries

This post was written by dcarty on March 15, 2013

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My question is: the pros/cons of charging a user fee to residents of towns that are decertified (or who close a library).

This is an interesting question to put out there for library directors.  I invite you to share your comments on this issue.

Remember,  borrowing privileges for residents of communities that are outside of the State Aid program is a local issue for boards of trustees to decide.

Let me just point out the semantics of certification.

  • A municipality and its library are certified in the State Aid to Public Libraries program  when the annual application is filed and compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements is vetted.
  • A municipality and its library are not certified when:    (1) the annual application for state aid is not submitted,   (2) the library is ineligible due to non-compliance with the minimum standards (hours open or materials expenditures), or   (3) a waiver of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) is denied by the Board of Library Commissioners.
  • If a  municipality and it s library are currently certified in the state aid program and if the library closes, then the municipality and its library are decertified as of the date of closure.

If a library is either not certified or decertified, the municipality and its library are outside the State Aid to Public Libraries program.

Posted under MAR Waivers, State Aid to Public Libraries

Is this a reduction in hours or a library “closing”?

“I’m still a bit unclear on whether if a library closed one entire day per week, but was still open six days and met the “Recommended Minimum Hours Open Per Week” as described in the CMR, it would no longer meet the requirements of certification. This would be a reduction of service but still within the range of hours specified by regulation. Would the MBLC interpret this as a reduction in hours or a “closing”?”

No, not a closing.  As long as the library has not shut its doors and curtailed services to residents it is not considered a closing.  If the library is still meeting the minimum hours open requirement, then the reduction in hours is not a factor in measuring compliance with the hours open standard of the state aid program.

Posted under State Aid to Public Libraries

This post was written by dcarty on February 25, 2009

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FY2009 Budget Cuts, Closing the Library, Furloughs, etc.

Here is a question that I received today:

“We are facing a possible further cut in our FY ’09 budget…  If this comes to pass, we’ve been working on ideas of how to make up the money.  One idea is to just shut the library down for one week rather than messing with our hours yet again.  However, I wondered if this might jeopardize our certification…”

Let me begin by saying that the Board of Library Commissioners’ Policy on a library closing is very specific:  “The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners considers any municipality that closes its main public library or ceases offering library service to the public for any reason other than

  • the undertaking of a project to improve library services (such as construction, automation preparation or inventory) or
  • the occurrence of a natural catastrophe (including a limited emergency closing due to illness or death)

to be, as of the date of that termination of service, no longer a certified participant in the State Aid to Public Libraries program.”

See the entire policy at: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/policies/sa_closure_policy2010.php

Cities and towns are trying to cope with extreme fiscal constraints.  However, closing the library due to lack of funding is not an option in the State Aid to Public Libraries program.  Certainly there has been and will be discussion of furloughs or unpaid leave for library staff along with other cost reduction activities.  These provisions however cannot be an excuse to close the library.  There are ways to spread furloughs over a period of time so as not to affect compliance with the minimum standards of hours of opening.

Posted under Budget Cuts, State Aid to Public Libraries

This post was written by dcarty on January 9, 2009

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