DATE: February 11, 2013
Record Number Certified for State Aid
At its February Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) wrapped up the FY 2013 State Aid to Public Libraries application process by certifying the two remaining libraries that met all program requirements and by approving waivers of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) for ninety one applicants. In total, 344 libraries are currently certified in the State Aid to Public Libraries program. This is the largest number to be certified in the history of the program. Of those certified, 253 public libraries met all program requirements, up from last year when 220 met the standards.
The number of libraries needing MAR waivers in FY2013 dropped from FY2012, when 121 libraries received waivers, making this is the lowest number of MAR waivers granted since 2009. Of the 91 libraries receiving FY2013 MAR waivers, 70 experienced budget increases, five were level funded, and 16 had budget reductions. Saugus Public Library, which originally applied for a MAR waiver, received additional funding making a waiver unnecessary.
Three communities, Fairhaven, West Tisbury, and Wrentham, had cuts beyond the 10% disproportionate budget reduction used as the benchmark indicating that the library has been targeted for budget reductions much greater than other municipal departments. The disproportionate reductions were as follows: Fairhaven -11%; West Tisbury -13%; and Wrentham -13%. These communities received waivers "with reservation" which indicates that a significant gap exists between library funding and funding of other departments.
Board Vice-chair Mary Rose Quinn expressed concern, “When a community cuts its library disproportionately, it is not only the “home” library’s community that is affected. We all share the costs of the disproportionate cuts. There is a ripple effect; an immediate and negative impact on the surrounding communities’ libraries, on the networks that serve those communities, and on the statewide and regional services we all share.”
This is the last round of FY2013 State Aid to Public Libraries. The MBLC awarded the first round of state aid funding in November when it approved the disbursement of FY2013 State Aid awards, totaling $360,326 to 71 municipalities. The second round, totaling $1.5 million to 167 libraries, was awarded in December, 2012. In January, 13 libraries were awarded $86,996.
Initial State Aid awards are roughly half of the total state aid funding that libraries will receive this fiscal year. 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. 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 FY2012 residents borrowed 11.4 million items from libraries outside their own community.
More information about the State Aid to Public Libraries Program is available on the MBLC website along with a list of municipalities that are currently certified and those that are not certified in the program.
State aid is available to all municipalities and their libraries that apply and are certified annually by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) as meeting a municipal appropriation requirement [a local funding requirement] and certain minimum standards [including hours of opening and expenditures for library materials] of free public library service per M.G.L. c.78, s.19A & 19B and 605 CMR 4.00. State Aid to Public Libraries consists of the Library Incentive Grant (LIG), the Municipal Equalization Grant (MEG) and the Nonresident Circulation Offset (NRC). These three awards are disbursed to each municipality meeting the requirements using different formulas (per capita for the LIG; variant of the lottery formula, using population and EQV, for the MEG; and per transaction formula for the NRC).
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.