Fact Sheet

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

State Aid to Public Libraries


The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners administers the State Aid to Public Libraries program which grants annual awards to municipalities whose public libraries meet statutory and regulatory requirements. The three components of the state aid award are:

  • Library Incentive Grant
  • Municipal Equalization Grant
  • Nonresident Circulation Offset


Library Incentive Grant

The purpose of the Library Incentive Grant (LIG) is to provide an incentive for public libraries to develop improved services. For municipalities with populations under 2,500, the LIG is a sum equivalent to the amount appropriated to the library, but not more than $1,250. Municipalities with a population of 2,500 and over receive a LIG amount based on a per capita rate using the population figures mandated by the General Court. They may receive $.50 per capita provided that at least $1,250 was appropriated for library service in the prior fiscal year. Actual annual award amounts may vary from statutory formulas based on the annual legislative appropriation and budget language.

Municipal Equalization Grant

The purpose of the Municipal Equalization Grant (MEG) is to encourage municipalities to maintain minimum levels of public library services and resources. Awards are calculated using an adaptation of the formula used to disburse proceeds from state lottery sales to municipalities.

Nonresident Circulation Offset

The Nonresident Circulation Offset (NRC) award, funded for the first time in FY1994, is intended to offset the costs a library incurs when it circulates materials to residents of other Massachusetts communities. The awards are calculated as follows: the total NRC appropriation is divided by the total number of nonresident circulation transactions reported by all public libraries in the previous fiscal year, and the resulting per transaction amount is multiplied by each transaction reported.


For the State Aid to Public Libraries awards, requirements are as follows (M.G.L., c.78, s.19A and 19B and 605 CMR 4.01):

  • The library must receive a current year municipal appropriation for public library service that is equal to the average of the municipal appropriations for the three previous fiscal years increased by 2½ %. Capital appropriations are excluded.
  • The library must submit an Annual Report Information Survey (ARIS).
  • The library must have complied in the prior fiscal year with a set of minimum standards:
    • be open to all residents of the commonwealth
    • make no charges for normal library services
    • be kept open a minimum number of hours per week
    • employ trained library personnel in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board of Library Commissioners
    • expend a reasonable portion of the library's total budget on library materials
    • lend books to other libraries in the commonwealth and extend privileges to the holders of cards issued by other public libraries in the commonwealth on a reciprocal basis
    • report on the ARIS the total number of nonresident circulations.


LIG, MEG and NRC award payments are "deposited with the treasurer of such city or town and held as a separate account and shall be expended by the public library of such city or town "without appropriation," as stated in the current budget language.


State Aid to Public Libraries is authorized by M.G.L., c. 78, § 19A and implementation of the awards is under M.G.L., c. 78, § 19B and 605 CMR 4.00: Free Public Library Service.


98 North Washington St., Suite 401 • Boston, MA 02114 • 617-725-1860 • 800-952-7403 (in-state only) • fax: 617-725-0140 • mass.gov/mblc
This Web site, and other programs of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, is funded in part with funds from the
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Page last updated on 12/22/2009