Fact Sheet

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Statewide Services to Libraries


The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is committed to providing statewide services that enhance and expand the resources available to residents of the Commonwealth through Massachusetts libraries. Through the three programs described below, all Massachusetts residents have access to information and materials beyond what one library can possibly afford on its own for its constituents.


Under M.G.L. Chapter 78 Section 19 (E), the Boston Public Library (BPL) is designated as the Statewide Reference & Referral Center. BPL provides mediated supplemental reference and information services via telephone, telefacsimile and electronic access for Regional Reference Centers, as well as for individual regional member library reference requests in specialized subject areas.


Statewide database access grew out of the Strategic Plan for Libraries in Massachusetts (1993). The Strategic Plan called for basic periodical full text and indexing/abstracting periodical and reference resources to be provided electronically through the Massachusetts Library and Information Network for libraries that join one of the six Massachusetts Regional Library Systems. This vision became a reality in March 1997 when a Gale database demonstration project was implemented for all Massachusetts libraries and has since become one of the most valued services by regional member libraries. K-12 schools and academic institutions are permitted campus-wide access, and anyone with a Massachusetts public library card can use the databases from any computer with Internet access through this Web site.

Through the statewide licenses, any PC with Internet access is transformed into an information mecca accessing thousands of consumer and K-12 magazines, scholarly journals, encyclopedias, newspapers, news wire services, business directories, investment reports, biographies, health pamphlets, prescription drug information, and literature reviews, as well as electronic books. The following Gale Power Search® web- accessible databases are currently available under a statewide license: Academic OneFile (including The New York Times from 1995-), General OneFile General Reference Center Gold, Health Reference Center Academic, Expanded Academic ASAP, General BusinessFile ASAP (with Investext), Biography Resource Center (with the Complete Marquis Who's Who), Biography Resource Center: African Americans, Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, InfoTrac® Junior and Student Editions, Kids InfoBits, Educator's Reference Complete, the Gale Virtual Reference Library, and Massachusetts History Online. For more information about the Gale databases, see our Magazine and Newspaper Articles Web page. Twelve full-text Massachusetts newspapers (current and archives) are available through Proquest: The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Telegram & Gazette (Worcester),  Patriot Ledger (Quincy), Berkshire Eagle, BusinessWest (Chicopee), North Adams Transcript, Plymouth County Business Review, Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg), and The Sun (Lowell). Back issues of the Haverhill Gazette and Standard Times (New Bedford) are also available.  Libraries in the Western part of the state have access to the Springfield Republican through a cost-sharing arrangement with the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System and a license with NewsBank. 


Multitype libraries are able to share resources efficiently and effectively through a statewide cross-state delivery service that connects with the regional library systems delivery services. The Boston Public Library implements and manages the cross-state delivery operation. Daily (M-F) delivery stops are made to one routing hub in each of the six regions. The Boston Regional Library System Headquarters staff troubleshoots delivery problems and maintains an online Delivery Routing Directory.


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
Page last updated on 06/11/2015