Library Network Fees to Increase


October 16, 2015
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) listened with concern during their monthly board meeting as MBLC Library Information Systems Specialist Paul Kissman announced that due to state funding cuts of nearly 25% to the MBLC's Technology and Resource Sharing line item (account 9506), funding that supports the nine automated library networks and the Small Libraries in Networks program would be reduced.

The MBLC's funding to the nine automated library networks will be reduced by over 23% and support for small libraries in the Small Libraries in Networks program will be reduced by 12%. This reduction is likely to cause either an increase in the membership fees libraries pay to belong to a network or a scaling back of the services networks are able to offer to their library members.

"We're reducing funding to the networks at a time when we should actually be expanding it. Our libraries' bandwidth is far below national benchmarks and we rely heavily on the networks to make sharing digital content like eBooks possible," Kissman said. Demand for digital content such as eBooks has risen 192% since 2012.

Libraries pay a membership fee to belong to an automated library network, which gives their residents access to more than 47 million items from libraries across the Commonwealth.

"It's the power of sharing resources," MBLC Director Dianne Carty said. "No library could ever afford to own all the resources its patrons need and thanks to sharing resources through networks, everyone has equal access to all the holdings at libraries across the Commonwealth."

While all libraries will be impacted, small libraries may be hit the hardest.

In FY 2015, more than 57 small public libraries that had struggled to be part of automated library networks received funding to support their network membership through the Small Libraries in Networks program. Eighteen libraries that are still unable to join a network received funding to provide Internet access in their libraries.

"Network membership saves local libraries money and improves library services," said Cindy Roach, the MBLC's head of library advisory and development. "It is important for all libraries, but particularly so for small libraries because it enables them to become the portal for rural and isolated residents to access holdings in libraries throughout the Commonwealth."

With the 12% reduction in funding to the Small Libraries in Networks program, the MBLC anticipates that many small libraries will find network membership beyond their means. With support from the library community, the MBLC has made increased funding to Technology and Resource Sharing (account 9506) a priority in its FY 2017 Legislative Agenda.

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( 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.