DATE: February 04, 2010
Board Awards nearly $7 million in State Aid
At its February Board meeting the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) certified the final round of libraries for the State Aid to Public Libraries program. FY2010 State Aid program grants totaled close to $7 million and were awarded to 339 of the 342 public libraries that applied for the program.
Ninety seven communities applied for a waiver of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR), funding from the city or town that supports the public library. While this number is higher than in recent years, the number of libraries receiving drastic disproportionate budget cuts has declined. Only five libraries received disproportionate budget reductions greater than 10% as compared to FY2009 when nearly one quarter of the libraries that applied for a MAR waiver had disproportionate budget cuts greater than 10%. The MBLC attributes this decline to the extensive outreach by MBLC staff to municipal officials. State Aid staff have conducted workshops across the state and have developed State Aid to Public Libraries: A Guide for Municipal Officials which helps explain the program. On average communities spend 1.24% of their total municipal budget on the public library.
Historically, the largest disproportionate budget cut that received a MAR waiver was 29% (Freetown, FY2009). In FY2010, five libraries had budget cuts that were significantly disproportionate when compared to other municipal departments. Those communities were:
All but Hull received a MAR waiver and are certified for the FY2010 State Aid to Public Libraries program. For a complete list of libraries that received FY2010 MAR waivers please visit: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/awards/waiver_list.php
In FY2009, 4 libraries had cuts greater than 21% and two communities were denied MAR waivers: Hubbardston which had a 69% disproportionate budget cut and Norton which was cut by 33%. For a history of MAR waiver awards please see: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/awards/index.php
FY2010 also marks the return of Medway Public Library to the State Aid to Public Libraries program. The library lost its certification in FY2007 due to a nearly 50% reduction in its budget. Since losing certification the community has worked to restore library services and hours and has increased funding to the library.
The Board also welcomed the community of Washington to the State Aid program for the first time. Washington has no public library, but through an informal agreement with Beckett, Washington residents were able to access library services at Beckett Public Library. The two communities have formalized their agreement and worked together to meet State Aid requirements. State Aid funding will benefit both communities.
Public libraries use state aid funding in a variety of ways including purchasing library materials and computers, paying staff salaries, and repairing library buildings. In addition, libraries that are State Aid certified have access to materials from across the Commonwealth, may apply for Library Services and Technology Act grants that total over $1 million, and are eligible to participate in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program.
For more information about the State Aid to Public Libraries program, please visit:
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.