DATE: March 12, 2013
Emergency Construction Regulations Approved
At its March 7, 2013 monthly board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved changes to the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) regulations that affect Planning and Design grants, libraries currently on the Waiting List for funding, and establish a new pilot program to assist libraries that lose a major service area due to damage from unforeseen occurrences.
The MBLC approved these changes as emergency regulations which means that they are temporarily in effect from March 29, 2013 until June 29, 2013. In the meantime, the Board will hold a public hearing on the changes on May 2 at 12:30 at the Bolton Public Library. If adopted as permanent regulations, the changes will take effect on June 21, 2013.
Costs associated with planning a public library construction project have increased since the last Planning and Design grant round in 2006 in which the maximum grant award was $40,000 with a required $20,000 local match. At its meeting, the MBLC increased the maximum grant award to $50,000 with a required $25,000 local match. The MBLC anticipates offering a new Planning and Design grant round in FY2014.
Grants to libraries on the Waiting List occur in rank order as funds became available. If there is sufficient funding in the spending cap provided by the state’s Five-Year Capital Plan and the library’s project has secured its local match and can proceed to build or is in the process of building, the emergency regulations allow the MBLC to offer a provisional grant award to one or more libraries farther down the Waiting List.
Current construction regulations address the catastrophic loss of a library facility but do not anticipate the smaller loss of a major library service area such as a children’s or teen room, a reference area or a meeting room. The emergency regulations address this need through a new project type called Loss of a Major Service Area. This pilot program provides financial assistance to a library that has lost use of a critical public service or staff area as the result of damaged caused by an unforeseen occurrence such as a hurricane or fire. Loss of a Major Service Area grants would be used to supplement local funding to repair interior damage and restore the use of an area.
Funding for the MPLCP was authorized by Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature in the General Governmental Needs Bond Bill in 2008. There are currently public library construction projects underway in the following communities: Athol, Edgartown, Everett, Foxborough, Granby, Holyoke, Millis, South Hadley, West Tisbury and Westwood. Construction on the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, which is currently on the waiting list, began in April 2011.
The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program was authorized in 1987. Since then the program has assisted nearly two hundred communities in building new libraries or in renovating and expanding existing libraries. For more information please visit the MBLC’s website.
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.