Sandwich Loses State Aid Certification


February 09, 2016
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its February board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) denied Sandwich Public Library's petition for a waiver of the FY 2016 Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR). The MAR is funding from the municipality used to support the library. This and other State Aid to Public Libraries Program requirements help create a foundation for reciprocal borrowing that allows patrons from certified libraries to check out materials from other libraries around the Commonwealth. Each year, patrons borrow millions of items from libraries outside their own communities.

Sandwich Public Library's budget was cut 9.55% more than other municipal departments. Whenever a library sustains a disproportionate cut of greater than 5%, the MBLC requests that library and municipal officials attend the January board meeting to present information about the effect of the funding reductions on library services and answer questions from Commissioners.

During the January board meeting, library director Joanne Lamothe was the only representative present. Commissioners expressed concern that while she could speak to the impact on library services, they had further questions for Sandwich's municipal officials. Commissioners cited this again as they voted to deny the MAR waiver for the community, noting that it is the municipality that applies for the State Aid to Public Libraries Program and that they still had unanswered questions regarding funding.

Sandwich may appeal the Board's decision, which would result in a hearing at the March board meeting and a determination at the April board meeting.

Denial of the MAR waiver results in immediate loss of certification in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program. Sandwich will not receive state aid funding in the amount of $23,178.50. The library is not eligible for grants from either the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program or the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) direct grant program, and neighboring libraries are not required to extend borrowing privileges to Sandwich residents.

One other community, New Bedford, had a disproportionate cut of 6.91%. The Commissioners voted to approve a MAR waiver with reservation for New Bedford. Waivers with reservation can be given to communities when the reduction to the library's budget exceeds 5% compared to other town departments. Commissioners also approved MAR waivers for 47 communities whose budget reductions did not exceed the 5% threshold.

For the FY 2016 State Aid to Public Libraries Program, 342 communities have been certified with 294 of those communities meeting all program requirements. To date, the MBLC has awarded $4,378,916 in state aid funding. This is 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.

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.

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.