DATE: March 08, 2008
Praise for Public Library Construction Program at Bond Bill Hearing
Westwood Library Director Tom Viti(left), MBLC’s Nancy Rea and MBLC Commissioner George C. Comeau
At the February 27 hearing of Governor Patrick's $2.5 billion bond bill, the Public Library Construction Program received praise with Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez calling it "the best of the best" and noting that the program leverages significant municipal and private funds. State Representative Karyn Polito listed library construction as one of her top priorities stating that the public library construction program helps "create a partnership between the state and the municipalities." She also recognized Shrewsbury Public Library Director Ellen Dolan's efforts and added that it is difficult for libraries to fundraise and plan without the certainty of state dollars.
The five-year bond bill, H4455, includes $100 million to fund library construction or renovation for the 31 municipalities on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioner's (MBLC) Waiting List as of November 3, 2006.
Shrewsbury Library Director Ellen Dolan (left) and Auburn Library Director Joan Noonan
Westwood is just one of 31 communities on the MBLC’s Waiting List, and State Representative Paul McMurtry told the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures & Assets, “I think there is a direct correlation between school excellence (Westwood is rated as one of the top 500 school systems in the nation) and library services. The library certainly played a significant role in my going into public service.”
Fundraising efforts in Westhampton have raised about $450,000
Westwood Public Library Director Tom Viti discussed how important the library is to the community, while MBLC Vice Chairman George C. Comeau highlighted the economic benefits library construction projects bring to the local economy and called the public library construction program, “the gold standard of construction” with state funds being matched by significant local fundraising.
Bourne Library Director Patrick Marshall and Nancy Rea, MBLC Deputy Director
State Representative Peter V. Kocot introduced Westhampton Building Committee Chair Phil Dowling and Trustee Chair Robert Fleischner. Dowling and Fleischner highlighted the creative fundraising efforts in their town including The Great Pumpkin Roll, Lounging for Literacy in which they set a world record for the most people ever reading together in lounge chairs, and Flock to the Library in which 600 pink plastic flamingos are for sale and will "migrate" to the library on May 17 (more information available at http://www.librarywesthampton.org/).
Bonding, Capital Expenditures & State Assets Chair State Senator Mark C. Montigny responded to the day's testimony by stating that it is the job of the committee to "evaluate how much we can afford, not how much we can spend. We're dealing with billions of dollars, this committee will conduct intense and thorough due diligence."
For more information on public library construction, please go to http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/construction/index.php
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.