Changes Give More Flexibility to State Aid Program


May 11, 2017
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its May Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) unanimously approved changes to the State Aid to Public Libraries Program.  The program, which is voluntary, annually certifies public libraries who meet State Aid requirements. Certified libraries receive state funding that supports the local library, and certification in the program guarantees residents access to library materials from across the state. “The changes reflect the reality of how libraries work today and allow them more flexibility to meet the program requirements, “said Mary Rose Quinn, Head of State Programs at the MBLC.

Information about the changes is below:

Requirement Current policy New Policy How it benefits the library and residents When it goes into effect

Minimum Standards of Hours of Service for Public Libraries

Compliance period is from Labor Day to Memorial Day.

Compliance period is defined as 38 consecutive weeks; the 38 weeks may span two fiscal years if compliance includes summer months.

It gives libraries the option to expand hours in the summer and reduce hours in the winter. This is particularly beneficial to small libraries and libraries in tourist areas that are busier during certain times of the year.

Goes into effect in FY2018 to be reported in the FY2019 State Aid Application and Financial Report.

Minimum Materials Expenditure Standard Calculation

"Library materials" is defined as the cost of books, serials, audio materials, electronic, and other non-print materials that circulate to library patrons or are used by library patrons with in the library. Included are online costs, (including money paid to networks for electronic content), and museum passes. Supplies used to prepare library materials for circulation are not included (e.g., bar codes, book pockets, etc.) and the monetary value of donated books may not be included.

The new policy adds the following: Up to 10% of the materials expenditure requirement may be used to purchase hardware for direct patron use. This includes but is not limited to hard drives, laptops, peripherals (mouse, keyboard, etc.), adaptive technology, and scanners.

Many libraries purchase digital resources for their patrons, but do not have adequate in-library technology for patrons to access these resources. This change helps libraries update their technology.

Goes into effect in FY2018 to be reported in the FY2019 State Aid Application and Financial Report.

Other Changes

Change Why When it goes into effect

Municipal Revolving Funds will no longer count towards the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR).

For towns that currently receive a Municipal Revolving Fund, the TAMI will be adjusted and the MAR will be recalculated.

It is expected that libraries which currently receive Municipal Revolving Funds will continue to receive them from the municipality.

Municipal Revolving Funds are an estimation of funds which for many libraries do not materialize in the actual amount and artificially inflate the MAR.

To be reported in the FY2019 Financial Report and State Aid application.

The MBLC will recalculate the MAR for affected libraries in January/February 2018.

The changes were recommended to the MBLC by the State Aid Review Committee which began a periodic review of the program in 2015. Regulatory changes were approved and the appropriate updates were made to the Hours Open and Materials Expenditure Requirements in 605 CMR 4.00.

A separate State Aid Task force is currently reviewing the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) policy and the MAR Waiver process. The library community will have an opportunity to weigh in on the Task Force recommendations after ARIS Workshops and during State Aid Information Sessions in June, and through a statewide survey.

In Massachusetts there are 350 municipalities with libraries. In FY2017, 344 libraries applied for and were certified in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program.  Please visit the MBLC website for information about current policies and requirements. State Aid has been awarded to municipalities and their libraries since 1890 when The Acts of 1890, chapter 347, ‘An Act to Promote the Establishment and Efficiency of Free Public Libraries,’ established the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, now known as the MBLC.

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.