MBLC Awards First Round of State Aid


November 12, 2015
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its November Board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved the disbursement of FY 2016 State Aid awards, totaling $464,420 to 56 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.

State aid funding is vital to the operation of the successful statewide library system because it provides the basis for sharing library resources across the Commonwealth. Libraries that are certified in the state aid program work together to give residents access to more than 40 million items beyond what their local library is able to offer.

This funding is also vital to the operation of local libraries. Libraries often use state aid funding to join automated library networks, supporting better technology in libraries and facilitating the sharing of library resources. Residents received more than 6.5 million items through resource sharing last year.

In addition, ebook circulation has increased 126% since FY 2011 and many libraries use State Aid funding to join the statewide Commonwealth eBook Collections program, giving their patrons access to more ebooks and electronic content. State aid funding is also used to meet local community needs such as buying computers, offering new and innovative programs, or simply keeping the library open for more hours during the week.

Funding to the FY 2016 State Aid to Public Libraries Program totals $9 million, the same as it was in FY 2015 before midyear 9C cuts reduced funding to $8,847,300. This funding went directly to the 344 public libraries certified in the FY 2015 program. The slight increase in the FY 2016 budget line that supports state aid is due to a $29,000 earmark from the legislature which will be divided equally among the towns of Granville, Russell, Southwick, Tolland, and Montgomery.

"Our libraries are busier than ever," said Mary Rose Quinn, the MBLC's head of state programs and government liaison. "State Aid to Public Libraries funding is local aid that supports the work our libraries do. Every certified community benefits, but state funding is simply not keeping pace." The MBLC prioritized increased funding to the State Aid to Public Libraries Program and other budget lines that support sharing library resources in the FY 2016 Legislative Agenda.

The Board is scheduled to consider the next round of libraries that meet full program requirements at its December meeting. Libraries that are not able to meet all requirements may be eligible to use the accommodation policy 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 in February.

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.

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.