Public Officials


According to the American Library Association (ALA) Library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons. Recently, ALA submitted comments about the impact to the House Oversight Committee.

Massachusetts has also seen a dramatic surge in book challenges and disturbances.
The MBLC provides advice and guidance to Massachusetts public libraires regarding access to information and the right to read. Public libraries are required by statute MGL Ch. 78, Sec 33 to have a collection development policy which details the criteria materials are evaluated with for inclusion in the library collection. Library collections are provided for the interest and information of the community the library serves and should be inclusive of all diverse viewpoints.  More information can be found at Collection Development Intellectual Freedom Guide.
Contact: Maura Deedy


State funding to the MBLC – FY2024 Legislative Agenda

The majority of state funding to the MBLC goes to support local libraries and library services.

To support digital equity and help address cybersecurity, the FY2024 state funding request prioritizes funding to the budget line that supports the Automated Networks and statewide databases (budget line 7000-9506). Networks provide the popular statewide Library eBook and AudioBook program which has been hampered by exorbitant publisher pricing and unfair lending practices. The Massachusetts Library Association and Library Futures are currently working with Representative Ruth Balser on eBook legislation to resolve these issues.

The MBLC is also making accessibility a focus and has prioritized funding to Perkins Library (budget line 7000-9406) and The Talking Book Library at Worcester Public Library (budget line 7000-9402).  Learn more about the state funding request.
Contact: James Lonergan

State Aid to Public Libraries (local aid for libraries)

Libraries certified in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program will receive the largest state aid awards  since the program began over 100 years ago. Legislators and the governor responded to years of efforts by the library community with steady increases to the program since 2018 and a 23% increase in FY2023. Local libraries have benefitted. Attleboro, for example, went from $59,422.67 in state aid funding in 2015 to an estimated* $108,778 in the current cycle.
Learn more about how the State Aid to Public Libraries Program saves money and gives residents more access to resources.
Contacts: Mary Rose Quinn; Jen Inglis

Federal funding to libraries (MBLC's direct grants to libraries program)

The MBLC’s direct grant program is helping local libraries meet local needs. Using federal LSTA funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the MBLC develops grant opportunities for public, school, academic, and special libraries that go beyond what local funding can do. Find out what your district or municipality received.
Contacts: Rob Favini; Lyndsay Forbes


The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) provides funding for major capital projects for public libraries throughout the Commonwealth. The MPLCP has helped over 250 communities plan, build, renovate and expand their public libraries and serves as a model for other states. MPLCP projects are currently underway in Amherst, Deerfield, Gloucester, Marlborough, Melrose, Sharon, Shutesbury, and Westford.

  • The MPLCP needs a new $150 bond authorization to run a new grant round. Numerous libraries throughout the Commonwealth have expressed interest in participating in the upcoming grant round.
  • The MBLC is requesting that the annual cap, currently at $24 million, increase $1 million annually to keep pace with escalation, allowing the program to maintain the level of support to libraries offered throughout its existence.
  • Newly adopted construction regulations make it easier and more cost effective for communities.

Contacts: Lauren Stara; Andrea Bunker-Bono


Libraries, as providers of connectivity, literacy training, and a source of online resources, such as eContent and research databases, play an important role in achieving digital equity.

Mobile Hotspots for Patron Lending

The MBLC used ARPA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to for 14 months through September 30.  Most libraries received 5 to 10 hotspots for lending to users, while a few larger cities created deposit collections to be placed with community-based organizations, such as those targeting low income or unhoused individuals.
Contact: Paul Kissman

Affordable Connectivity Program

MBLC hosted an FCC webinar and continues to encourage active library engagement with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).  Proving eligibility and applying for ACP benefits are barriers to free or reduced cost internet and devices for low-income residents. The MBLC participates in western Massachusetts’ Alliance for Digital Literacy efforts to organize a cadre of libraries to eager to support ACP uptake.
Contact: Paul Kissman

Digital Equity Act Planning

The MBLC is engaging with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to support the state’s Digital Equity Plan, a requirement for further support from the bipartisan infrastructure act’s Digital Equity Act capacity and challenge grants.  Along with partner state agencies, the MBLC acts as a communication channel between statewide planning efforts, and libraries of all types, including school libraries. In addition, the MBLC is working to ensure that public libraries are familiar with the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program recently announced by MBI.
Contact: Paul Kissman


School eContent

The Massachusetts Library System’s Commonwealth eBook Collection (funded in part by the MBLC) offers an ever-growing robust collection of rich and diverse titles to help support the 550+ K-12 school libraries that participate in this program. The collection contains over 140,000 eBook and audiobook tiles exclusively for schools. In 2021 and 2022, program circulation exceeded one million checkouts each year and this program currently ranks 2nd in the US and 3rd world in total circs for K-12 shared collections. The MBLC continues to use federal funds to support school eContent.
Contact: Kate Butler


The statewide database program provides critical access to research databases that no community or school system could afford to purchase on its own. 1500 school, public, academic and special libraries from across the state benefit from these resources. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System recently increased funding to these resources that are not available to consumers on the internet without a paid subscription.
Contact: Kate Butler

Summer reading

In summer 2022, more than 284,000 people participated in statewide summer reading programs proven to help kids maintain academic skills. In fact, kids read more than 2.5 million minutes as part of the Baker and Blades reading challenge and residents of all ages shared their summer success stories.  These programs help close the literacy gap, a critical predictor of academic success.
Contacts: Celeste Bruno; June Thammasnong

Remote learning software

Nearly 130 public libraries offer an online summer program, of those 76% used software provided through federal grants from the MBLC. Participants register for summer reading programs, track progress, earn badges, write book reviews and stay connected during the summer months. The software also allows for year-round remote learning as well and is currently be used as part of the Massachusetts Center for the Book's yearlong reading challenge.
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes


Managing Special Collections

For over four hundred years, the public and private histories of Massachusetts residents have been recorded in books, newspapers, archives, artworks—and now, increasingly, digital AV collections—which are often deeded to public libraries and historical societies for public benefit. The MBLC provides expert consulting services and administers grant programs that support libraries, staff, and other stakeholders to collaboratively preserve and more widely share (online and in-person) these irreplaceable local histories in affordable and sustainable ways.
Contact: Evan Knight


Statewide trainings are free to librarians, library staff, and trustees and provide opportunities to learn new ways of improving library services. The Massachusetts Library System, funded through the MBLC, also offers a wide array of free training.

Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainings
    The MBLC partnered with Walker Cares to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid to library staff. Youth Mental Health First Aid helps adults who work with youth to recognize, support, and refer youth who may be experiencing mental health challenges or may be in crisis, for professional mental health services.
  • Library Accessibility for People with Disabilities
    The MBLC and  (a division of Perkins School for the Blind) teamed up to teach librarians ways to increase library accessibility. Workshops included a range of topics: creating accessible web content and multimedia; creating accessible documents in Canva, PowerPoint, and Google docs; and writing about people with disabilities.
  • Mental Health First Aid Training for Librarians
    The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) partnered with Walker Cares to offer Mental Health First Aid for Adults to library staff.  Mental Health First Aid  teaches people how to identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of a mental health or substance use challenge in adults ages 18 and over.
  • Accessible Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) partnered with the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) to present Welcoming Patrons Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Late Deafened to Your Library.


Network membership

Membership in one of the nine automated library networks saves libraries money by providing the library catalog, circulation services, patron registration, public internet access and more. Libraries pay a membership fee to join a network and MBLC offers support that keeps membership fees affordable and helps new public libraries join.
Contacts: Paul Kissman; Kate Butler

Sharing Resources

Network membership also gives residents access to 59 million items from libraries across the state and access to millions of eBooks and audiobooks through the statewide Library eBooks and Audiobooks (LEA) program. This saves money because libraries don't have to purchase each item residents need. The MBLC also provides funding to purchase statewide eContent.
Contacts: Paul Kissman; Kate Butler


The MBLC provides advice to Massachusetts library trustees and assists them with interpreting laws and regulations, understanding their responsibilities, and supporting library administration.
Contact: Maura Deedy

  • Trustee Deep Dives  are a monthly series that bring friends and trustees together for an in-depth conversation on roles and responsibilities. Each month explores a different topic, with a brief overview presented by Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist, or with an expert special guest, with time for questions and conversation. This is a space to connect with other library advocates and supporters across the state, make connections, and build a toolkit to be an effective library supporter. Topics include board governance, recruiting new board members, hiring a library director, advocacy, and more. The MBLC emails reminders for registration.
  • MBLC Trustees Resource Guide
    Helpful links, guidance, and information about upcoming workshops.
  • Trusty Trustee Pocket Guide (PDF)
    This short guide is adapted from the above handbook. Please contact MBLC to request printed copies of the Pocket Guide.

 *Exact awards cannot be calculated until certification of the remaining libraries is determined, which will occur in February 2023.

Questions or Comments

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For More Information

Mary Rose Quinn, Head of State Programs
617-725-1860 x220
857-488-7155 (Mobile)