DATE: February 15, 2011
Board awards $6.8 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. For FY2011state aid grants total over $6.8 million and were awarded to all of the 341 libraries that applied for the voluntary program. A complete list of grant awards is available at http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/awards/index.php
Board Chair Katherine Dibble appreciated local efforts to keep libraries funded, “The Board recognizes that the FY2011 State Aid to Public Libraries grant round has taken place in an atmosphere of continued fiscal difficulties. Despite these fiscal constraints 218 municipalities have met the Municipal Appropriation Requirement.” (The Municipal Appropriation Requirement is the required funding level from the city or town that supports the public library.)
One hundred and twenty seven communities applied for a waiver of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR). Four of these communities received additional funding, making the waiver unnecessary. One hundred and twenty one communities received MAR waivers and two communities received MAR waivers with reservation.
A waiver with reservation is given to communities with a disproportionately large cut to their libraries budget, when compared to other town departments (greater than 10%).
While the number of waiver applications is greater than in recent years, the number of libraries receiving drastic disproportionate budget cuts has declined. Only two libraries received disproportionate budget reductions greater than 10%. This compares to FY2010 when 5 libraries were cut disproportionately and FY2009 when nearly one quarter of the libraries that applied for a MAR waiver had disproportionate budget cuts greater than 10%. MBLC staff has worked closely with local communities to help officials better understand the State Aid to Public Libraries Program so that more libraries are able to maintain certification.
Historically, the largest disproportionate budget cut that received a MAR waiver was 29% (Freetown, FY2009). In FY2011 two communities had budget cuts that were significantly disproportionate when compared to other municipal departments. Those communities were: Provincetown -12% and Northborough -14%. Both communities were granted a waiver with reservation. “The Board considers a waiver with reservation to indicate that a significant gap exists between library funding and funding of other departments. This gap signals the beginning of erosion of library services for residents of the community. It is imperative that city and town officials work with their libraries to reduce or eliminate these disproportionate cuts in FY2012,” said Board Chair Dibble.
FY2011 marks the first time that Provincetown has requested a waiver. Northborough received a MAR waiver without reservation in FY2010. For a complete list of FY2011 MAR waiver recipients please see: http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/awards/waiver_list.php
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 certified for State Aid to Public Libraries 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.
Participation in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program is voluntary. It is administered in accordance with statutory and regulatory minimum standards of free public library service. The program encourages municipalities to support and improve public library service, compensates for disparities among municipal funding capacities, and offsets the cost of circulating public library materials to residents from other certified Massachusetts municipalities. For more information please see http://mblc.state.ma.us/grants/state_aid/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.