State Aid Awards for FY2017


February 21, 2017
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its February Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved the final group of libraries that met all requirements for the State Aid to Public Libraries program. To date, 344 communities have been certified and more than $4,414,490 has been awarded in state aid funding. This is roughly half of the total state aid funding that certified libraries will receive.

Commissioners also approved applications from 35 libraries that needed a waiver of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) in order to be certified in the program. The MAR is funding from the municipality to support the library. This and other requirements help create a foundation for reciprocal borrowing that allows patrons from certified libraries to borrow materials from other libraries. Last year patrons borrowed nearly 16 million items from outside their own community.

The number of libraries needing a MAR waiver has dropped dramatically since 2011 when a program high of 123 libraries applied for waivers to become certified. For FY2017, two libraries that applied for MAR waivers received disproportionate budget cuts greater than 5%. Disproportionate budget reductions are one factor in the Board's consideration of whether or not to grant a MAR waiver. The library's budget reduction is compared with the overall reduction in the municipal budget. Cuts beyond the 5% budget reduction used as the benchmark for disproportionate cuts indicate that the library has been targeted for budget reductions much greater than other municipal departments.

Adams Public Library received a 20.88% budget reduction when compared with other municipal departments. The community received MAR waivers in 2012, 2011, and 2010 and in their presentation to the Board at the January meeting, Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco demonstrated that the reduction was due staffing changes that resulted in lower salary and benefits costs. He added that other departments received budget cuts in previous years while library funding was maintained. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the MAR waiver with reservation.

Wilbraham Public Library received a 5.85% disproportionate reduction. It has received MAR waivers every year since 2010. In her presentation to the Commissioners at the January Board meeting Library Director Karen Demers stated that improved efficiencies allowed the library to operate at reduced staffing levels and that the most recent budget reduction did not further impact library services. Commissioners approved the MAR waiver with reservation; Commissioner Comeau voted against it and Commissioner Caro abstained.

Funding from the State Aid to Public Library Program goes directly to support public library services. The reciprocity that comes with library certification in the State Aid program is often what patrons value most. It allows them to use any State Aid certified library in the Commonwealth and gives patrons access to more than 30 million items available through the shared library system.

More information about the State Aid to Public Library 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.

State aid is available to all municipalities and their libraries that apply and are certified annually by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) as meeting a municipal appropriation requirement (a local funding requirement) and certain minimum standards (including hours of opening and expenditures for library materials) of free public library service per M.G.L. 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; 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.