State Aid Certification and Waiver Applicants


January 20, 2016
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its January meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved an additional group of libraries that met all requirements for the State Aid to Public Libraries program. To date, 284 communities have been certified and nearly $3.4 million has been awarded in State Aid funding.

Commissioners also reviewed applications from 49 libraries that need a waiver of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) in order to be certified in the program. The MAR is funding collected from the municipality to support the library.

Requirements like the MAR help create a foundation for reciprocal borrowing that allows patrons from certified libraries to borrow materials from other libraries throughout the state. Last year, patrons borrowed more than 6.5 million items from outside their own community. The number of libraries needing a waiver to gain certification has dropped significantly since the high of 123 applicants in FY 2011.

In reviewing MAR waivers, the Commissioners consider several factors including how the library's budget was reduced in comparison to the municipal budget. Libraries that sustain disproportionate reductions of greater than five percent are required to appear before the Board to outline future plans for the library. In FY 2016 two libraries, Sandwich and New Bedford, fell into this category. Sandwich’s disproportionate reduction was 9.55%; New Bedford’s was 6.91%. Commissioners will vote on MAR waiver applications at the February board meeting.

In addition, several libraries are not certified in the FY 2016 State Aid to Public Libraries program because they did not apply. Municipalities that did not apply, or were ineligible, were not certified as of January 1, 2016. Municipalities that are denied a MAR waiver will be not certified as of February 4, 2016.

Libraries not certified in the State Aid program, FY 2016

1. Alford
Did not apply - last applied FY 1988

2. Groveland
Ineligible to apply

3. Hancock
Did not apply - last applied FY 1975

4. Monroe
Did not apply - has never applied

5. New Ashford
Ineligible - no library service

6. Savoy
Did not apply - has never applied

7. Tyringham
Did not apply - last applied 1961

8. Wareham
Did not apply

State Aid awards are roughly half of the total state aid funding that libraries will receive. Additional payments to libraries are expected toward the end of the grant cycle in the spring.

Funding from the State Aid to Public Libraries program goes directly to support public library services. The borrowing reciprocity that comes with library certification in the State Aid program is often what patrons value most. It allows them to borrow from and use any certified library in the Commonwealth, giving patrons access to more than 53 million items available through the shared system. Increasing funding for State Aid to Public Libraries and other budget lines that support resource sharing is a priority in the FY 2017 Legislative Agenda.

More information about the State Aid to Public Libraries program is available on the MBLC website, along with a list of municipalities that are currently certified and those that are not certified in the program.

Notes on the State Aid to Public Libraries program in Massachusetts

State aid is available to all municipalities and their libraries that apply. Libraries are certified annually by the MBLC as meeting the MAR and certain minimum standards (e.g., hours open and expenditures for library materials) of free public library service per Massachusetts General Laws c.78, s.19A & 19B and 605 CMR 4.00.

State Aid to Public Libraries consists of the Library Incentive Grant (LIG), the Municipal Equalization Grant (MEG), and the Nonresident Circulation Offset (NRC). These three awards are disbursed to each municipality meeting the requirements using different formulas (per capita for the LIG; a variant of the lottery formula, using population and EQV, for the MEG; and per transaction formula for the NRC).

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.