DATE: April 05, 2012
Franklin Granted Waiver
At its April 5, 2012 meeting the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) voted to grant the appeal of the FY2012 Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) to Franklin and rescinded its action of February 2, 2012 denying Franklin a waiver of the FY2012 MAR. This action certifies the library in the FY2012 State Aid to Public Libraries program which provides funding to local municipalities, access to federally funded grants, and reciprocal borrowing for patrons of certified libraries.
The Board decision was based on recent increases in funding to the library that helped close the gap between minimum program requirements for funding (MAR) and the actual appropriation from the municipality. At the MBLC Meeting, Franklin officials announced that on April 4, 2012 the Franklin Town Council approved an additional $50,000 to support the library. This is the latest in a series of funding increases that began after Franklin submitted its State Aid to Public Libraries application.
Franklin’s application for the FY2012 State to Public Libraries program in October 2011 showed the library’s budget had been cut 31% between FY2011 and FY2012 when compared to the overall municipal operating budget. In January, Franklin officials presented their MAR waiver application to the MBLC and demonstrated that additional funding to the library had decreased the net budget reduction to 29.03%. However, the Board denied a waiver of the FY2012 MAR at their February 2, 2012 meeting with several Commissioners expressing concern that the library had been singled out for a drastic budget reduction.
Franklin officials appealed this decision and at the MBLC‘s March meeting they reported to Commissioners that additional funding totaling $31,000 had been appropriated to support the library. The latest funding increase, voted by Franklin Town Council on April 4, of an additional $50,000 brought the net library budget reduction to 19.82%. Officials also pledged future support for the library.
Franklin received a waiver “with reservation” of the FY2012 MAR which is granted when a library’s budgets is reduced more than 10% when compared to the overall municipal budget. The Board considers a waiver with reservation to indicate that a significant gap exists between library funding and funding of other departments. It signifies that it is imperative that city and town officials work with their libraries to reduce or eliminate these disproportionate cuts in FY2013 so that library services are not further eroded.
In an effort to assist communities during the economic downturn, state budget language for FY2012 permits the MBLC to grant as many FY2012 MAR waivers as needed to eligible municipalities and their libraries. In FY2012, 342 municipalities applied for State Aid to Public Libraries. Of those 342, 216 met all requirements and were certified without waivers. MAR waiver applicants totaled 122. One community, Millville, was denied a FY2012 MAR waiver on the basis of 95.74% net reduction to the library’s budget. Two communities, Franklin and Stoughton, received FY2012 MAR waivers with reservation
Public libraries use state aid funding in a variety of ways including purchasing library materials and computers, paying staff salaries, and repairing library buildings. On average municipalities spend 1.24% of their total budget on their public library.
Certification in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program guarantees residents access to library materials from other libraries across the Commonwealth. In FY2011 residents borrowed over 11.4 million items from libraries outside their own community. Certified libraries may apply for Library Services and Technology Act grants 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.