DATE: November 04, 2011
Board Awards $600,000 in State Aid
At its November Board Meeting the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners approved partial FY2012 State Aid awards, totaling $599,955 to 89 municipalities that have met State Aid to Public Libraries Program requirements. The awards are roughly half of the total state aid funding that libraries will receive. Since 2008 the economic climate and concerns over library funding have prompted the Board to make partial awards. Additional payments to libraries are expected toward the end of the grant cycle in the spring.
Funding from the State Aid to Public Library Program goes directly to support public library services. "State Aid helps keep the doors open," said one library director. Others use it to provide Internet computers, summer reading programs and other programming for communities or for library maintenance.
The reciprocity that comes with library certification in the State Aid program is often what patrons value most. It allows them to use any State Aid certified library in the Commonwealth and gives patrons access to more than 37 million items available through the shared library system. In FY2010 residents borrowed close to 12 million items from libraries outside their own community.
Although the program is voluntary, most of the Commonwealth’s 370 public libraries apply each year because of the benefits to their patrons and the assistance that state aid funds provide. For FY2012 a record 342 libraries have applied for certification in the program.
The Board is scheduled to consider the second round of libraries that meet program requirements at is December meeting. Libraries that are not able to meet all requirements may use the accommodations built-in to the program to attain certification. Libraries that are not able to meet the program’s funding requirement, may apply for a waiver. Waiver petitions are reviewed by the Board during its meeting in January and are voted on at their February meeting.
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 across the state. 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.