Board Approves Changes to State Aid


March 07, 2016
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its March board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved several recommended changes to the State Aid to Public Libraries program. These changes affect the following:

  • the Compliance Period for the Minimum Hours Open Requirement
  • the Materials Expenditure Requirement to include technology for patron use
  • the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) that removes municipally appropriated revolving funds from the MAR calculation

"During the past year, the State Aid Review Committee has examined the findings of the white paper from the Collins Center and considered feedback received from a series of library community meetings and surveys," said MBLC Head of State Programs Mary Rose Quinn. "These recommendations will offer local libraries greater flexibility in meeting State Aid program requirements and standards each year."

Minimum Hours Open Requirement
Currently, in order to meet the Minimum Hours Open requirement, a library must be open the minimum required hours, days, and evening hours for its population group between Labor Day and Memorial Day of each fiscal year. Summer hours are not used in measuring compliance.

The new requirement allows libraries to determine which nine months of their public schedules in a fiscal year they will use to meet the compliance period. This change provides flexibility for communities that are busier in summer months as a result of vacation population increases in resort communities or high participation in popular summer reading programs. These libraries benefit because they can adjust staffing and open hours to accommodate their busiest periods and reduce hours during the slower winter months, which may result in cost savings for the library. Libraries that prefer the current compliance period can continue to use the time between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Materials Expenditure Requirement
Currently, equipment that circulates for patron use is included in the Materials Expenditure Requirement calculation. The new requirement allows libraries to include the cost of technology for patron use in the library as part of their Materials Expenditure Requirement. This helps libraries keep up with the latest technology for patrons and provides them with greater access to electronic materials purchased for their use.

Up to ten percent of the Materials Expenditure Requirement would be available each year for the purchase of hardware. Examples of hardware include patron access computers, monitors, laptops, tablets, keyboards, mice, and headphones. The purchases allowed are from appropriated or non-appropriated operating funds, not capital funds.

Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR)
The current practice for calculating the MAR includes municipally appropriated revolving funds. Revolving funds are projections in anticipation of revenues. In some cases, libraries may not receive the total amount of revolving funds, meaning their MAR calculation may be too high.

The approved change would calculate the MAR without including municipally appropriated revolving funds. Libraries that have revolving funds would have their MAR recalculated to reflect this change.

When the changes will go into effect
The MBLC anticipates the changes to the MAR calculation will go into effect for the FY 2017 State Aid to Public Libraries application. Because changes to the Materials Expenditure Requirement and to the Minimum Open Hours Requirement require a change in state regulation, the MBLC will need to go through the regulatory change process. The effective date is dependent on how long this process takes.

More information about the State Aid Review process can be found on the MBLC's website.

About the State Aid to Public Libraries Program
An average of 98% of public libraries are certified in the State Aid to Public Libraries program each year. The program serves as the basis for statewide resource sharing, giving all residents access to more than 53 million items from across the state.

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. Libraries apply for certification in the program each year. 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.

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.