MBLC Authorizes Library Construction Grant Round


May 05, 2016
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its May 5, 2016 Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) authorized  the 2016-2017 Library Construction Grant round under the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP).  Many public libraries struggle to meet the growing demand for library services in buildings that were built to serve much smaller populations and well before technology became essential to economic and educational development. The MPLCP works with local communities to assist with major capital improvement projects that involve building new facilities, expanding and renovating an existing library building, or adapting and reusing another building for use as a library.

 “We’re sometimes asked whether libraries are still necessary in this digital age,” said MBLC Chair Mary Ann Cluggish.  “The answer is an overwhelming ‘yes.’  Libraries are busier than ever assisting residents with job searches, teaching residents to use new technology or simply providing the only free space where everyone in a community can continue their education.”  Attendance at library programs across the Commonwealth has increased 42% over the past decade and library visits have increased 26%. 

 The average MPLCP Library Construction Grant award is 45-50% of the eligible costs. A local financial commitment of no less than 25% of the project's eligible costs is required.

The MBLC also offers Green Library Incentives which help offset the cost of incorporating environmentally friendly and energy-efficient systems and materials in library building projects. Projects that attain the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification will receive 2% to 3.5% of the grant award in additional state funds administered by the MBLC.

To be eligible for an MPLCP Library Construction Grant, the municipality and applicant library must meet eligibility requirements including certification in the State Aid to Public Libraries program. The library must also have an updated Long Range Plan and Action Plan filed with the MBLC by December, 2016. Full eligibility requirements are listed in the program Regulations 605 CMR 6.00.

Letters of intent are due October 7, 2016, with an application filed by January 26, 2017. The MBLC will hold mandatory workshops for applicants in October. The MBLC anticipates announcing provisional grant awards in July, 2017.

The last time the MBLC authorized a Library Construction Grant round was in June, 2010. Funding for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program is authorized by the governor and state legislature. The MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, the MPLCP has helped build 51 new library buildings and 126 addition, renovation, and conversion projects. The MPLCP also awards planning and design grants to support public libraries as they prepare to apply for a construction grant. MPLCP projects are currently underway in Eastham, Hopkinton, Leicester, Reading, Sherborn, Shrewsbury, Stoughton, Webster and Woburn. Communities with projects that were recently completed include: Edgartown, Framingham, Salisbury and West Springfield.

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.