DATE: November 15, 2013
MBLC Awards State Aid--First Round
At its November board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners approved the disbursement of FY2013 State Aid awards, totaling $457,708 to 61 municipalities that have met State Aid to Public Libraries Program requirements. The awards are roughly half of the total state aid funding that these libraries will receive. Following the Commonwealth's disbursement schedule, additional payments to libraries are expected toward the end of the grant cycle in the spring.
Libraries that are certified in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program work together to give residents access to millions of items beyond what their local library is able to offer. Libraries also use their state aid funding to meet local community needs such as buying computers, offering new and innovative programs, or simply keeping the library open during more hours.
Total FY2014 funding to the State Aid to Public Libraries program is $6,823,657, where it has been since FY2010. This is 31% lower than the FY2009 high of $9,989,844 and the MBLC has made increased funding to the State Aid to Public Libraries program a priority in the FY2015 Legislative Agenda.
Based on FY2013 data, municipal funding to libraries is slowly improving. In FY2013, 344 libraries were 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 FY2012 when 220 met the standards. The number of libraries needing waivers to be certified dropped from 121 to 91, the lowest number of waivers granted since 2009.
The Board is scheduled to consider the second round of libraries that meet full program requirements at its 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 the 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.
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.