August 9, 2000
Director, Communications & Public Information
Library Commissioners Announce Availability of Construction Grants
BOSTON: The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has announced the beginning of new grant rounds in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. Two application rounds will begin simultaneously, one for Planning and Design grants and one for Construction grants. The Legislature recently allocated $12 million in a FY2000 supplemental budget for the construction grants and authorized the expenditure of some $200,000 from the previous year's supplemental budget to fund the planning and design program.
The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, administered by the Board of Library Commissioners and first funded by the Legislature in 1989, has already helped over 160 communities build new library facilities or renovate existing ones. On average, a state grant funds about 38 percent of a project's cost and serves also to stimulate additional local municipal funding and private donations.
While the two grant rounds will begin at the same time, they will subsequently run on separate timetables. Workshops to assist applicants will be offered in October and November and deadlines will occur in December and January. The Board will make its final awards in the spring of 2001.
Keith Michael Fiels, director of the Board of Library Commissioners, commented,"We are delighted to be able to conduct a new application round, the first for Construction grants since April 1996 and the first for Planning and Design since April 1999. Each project we are able to fund represents a dramatic step forward in the services that a local library will be able to provide to its community." Director Fiels estimates that there are still more than 150 main public library buildings in Massachusetts in need of serious renovation or restoration.
Chairman of the Board Edward Bertorelli remarked, "The last ten years have been an outstanding decade for public libraries in Massachusetts. The Board of Library Commissioners has given a total of 149 construction and reimbursement awards and 32 planning and design awards since 1989. The Board recognizes the full support of the Weld/Cellucci and Cellucci/Swift Administrations as well as the support of the Senate and House in making this the "new Golden Age" in library construction in Massachusetts. We still have significant challenges before us, but it is encouraging that the Administration and the Legislature working together with the Board of Library Commissioners have accomplished so much for the citizens of the Commonwealth."
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.