MPLCP Revealed!

By Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist

(Visit our new website by clicking the image above or link below.)

Are you curious about the impact of the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) on your community? We are delighted to announce that we have a new website showing the entire history of our grant program, now live at

Here you will find all the grants we have awarded, searchable by municipality, with the grant year, the grant amount, the type of project, and the architect. In many cases, we have more data, like the dedication date, contractor, OPM, and total construction cost. Note that if your city or town does not appear in the drop-down list, it means that you have never received an MPLCP construction grant.

You can also scroll down to see a map of the entire state, color coded to show the status of past and current construction grants. We’ve had this map in printed form for many years, and we’ve finally gone digital! You can download a printable PDF of the map if you like the paper format.

(Click the image to download the PDF printable map.)

The great thing about this site is that we can update it periodically to reflect the progress of current projects and add new projects as we go through the 2023-2024 grant round.

Sincere thanks go to Celeste Bruno and June Thammasnong, our amazing Communications Team, as well as Andrea Bono-Bunker, Library Building Specialist and Rosemary Waltos, former Library Building Consultant. The site is the culmination of years of struggling with how to make our wealth of data available to the public – we’ve been working toward this since I started with the agency, over 10 years ago.

For more information about the MPLCP, visit the construction section of the MBLC website. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or Andrea at

The End of a (Construction) Chapter

By Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist

We are delighted to announce the completion of the waiting list from the 2016-2017 Grant Round for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). In July of 2017, the Commissioners approved immediate funding for nine construction projects and placed 24 municipalities on a waiting list for funding as our annual capital budget allowed. Because of escalating construction costs, it’s taken six years to make our way through the waiting list. The final three communities’ provisional grants were awarded by the Commissioners at their monthly meeting on July 13.

Despite the effects of the pandemic, the proportion of declined grants is in line with MPLCP history. Between 25% and 30% of municipalities have declined MPLCP grants in rounds over the last 35 years.

2016-2017 Construction Grant Round – statistics to date:

  • 33 projects approved for funding in 2017
  • 13 projects completed
  • 2 projects under construction
  • 5 projects in final planning
  • 2 projects awarded provisional grants with local funding approved & final planning underway
  • 1 project awarded a provisional grant with local funding to be approved
  • 10 grants declined

(2023 Map of New Libraries in MA and library construction in the past 20 years.)

For more details about the projects and municipalities funded, visit the MBLC’s website page on Construction Programs and Support.

As you may know, we have already launched the the 2023-2024 grant round, which follows a new competitive, single-application process, combining the old Planning & Design grant round with the old Construction grant round. This streamlining eliminates approximately two years from the former project timeline, which we hope will result in more success in passing local funding and lower escalation for awarded projects. As a result of our Small Library Pilot Project, we also added a new grant category for small population towns of under 2,500. We received 27 Letters of Intent to apply for the new grant round, with applications due in May of 2024. We anticipate that the Commissioners will approve these grants in October of 2024, after the independent review process.For more information about the new grant round, visit the MBLC’s Construction Programs and Support page.

If you have any questions about the MPLCP, please contact me at or Andrea Bono-Bunker at

Construction Program Update and Proposed Changes

by Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist

This is a very busy time for me and Andrea Bono-Bunker, the two Library Building Specialists for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). The MBLC offered seven new provisional grants in July, and we are working with those communities on the process to secure local funding and start the contract process. In addition, we are working with three projects in the design process, three projects currently under construction, and eight projects that are completed but still working on final reporting and/or LEED certification.

With so many projects in their final stages and our waiting list down to only seven projects, we are planning for our next round of grants. We have been working hard on some changes to our program, which are intended to reduce the very long waiting list we had in the current round, and with the goal of making our grants more predictable and regular.

How the program will be different

  • There will no longer be separate application processes for planning & design and construction. Instead, a town or city will apply once, and we will take them through a planning & design phase and a construction phase. We estimate that this will eliminate about 2 years from the timeline of our projects, reducing escalation and eliminating the need for redesign caused by changes in library services.
  • The financial outlay for municipalities will be much less prior to receiving funding from the MPLCP. No design work will be done before receiving a grant.
  • Municipal officials must participate in the application process.
  • Applications will be evaluated based on three major factors:
    • Community need, with an emphasis on equity and inclusion
    • The current library building’s ability to meet the needs of the community.
    • The capacity of the municipality and the library to undertake a major capital project, including financial capacity and staffing capacity.
  • Applications will be reviewed by independent reviewers based on three tiers or categories – Large Library (30,000+ sf), Medium Library (15,000-29,999 sf), or Small Library (6,000-14,999 sf). A Library Building Program is required for application, and the square footage is determined by that document.
  • A concurrent grant round will be conducted for Small Population Libraries (in towns under 2,500 municipal census population). This new project type is informed by our Small Library Pilot Project, now underway in Shutesbury. Early planning documents, such as the creation of the library building program and conditions assessment, will be part of the planning and design phase.
  • The grant round will be competitive; only as many projects as can be funded within our projected annual cap for a limited number of years will be awarded or placed on a very short waiting list. Applicants not accepted are welcome to apply in subsequent grant rounds.

How the program will be the same

  • The MPLCP’s goal is to improve library services through improvements to library facilities
  • The Library Building Program, developed with extensive community engagement, is the basis for all design decisions and determines the size of the building.
  • Grants are calculated based on eligible costs and a funding formula, with smaller projects receiving a higher percentage of eligible costs.
  • Applications are reviewed by independent review teams; Designs for grantee libraries are also reviewed by independent review teams prior to securing local funding for construction; reviewers are chosen for specific types of expertise and objectivity.
  • Library Building Specialists are available to help at any time in the process.

We are tentatively planning to announce the grant round in the first quarter of 2023, with an application due date about a year later.

Where we are now

The first step in making these changes official is to amend our regulations. We are holding regulatory hearings in early November. For more information and a copy of the revised regulation, please see our regulations page (, or contact Lauren at or Andrea at

Got UX?

Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC, has begun writing a monthly article on UX in libraries for Public Libraries Online. The first two are available now, with a third coming soon!

Improving Your Library’s UX
Go on a Service Safari
Design Thinking and how it Shakes Things Up (later this month)