Funding Constraints Result in Fewer Online Resources


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

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) recently announced that the MBLC has awarded contracts to Gale Cengage, Inc., ProQuest, Inc. and Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. for statewide online magazine, newspaper, e-reference and encyclopedia databases to begin on July 1, 2017.  Massachusetts residents rely on these resources for trustworthy online information. Over 7 million full-text articles are downloaded each year by residents.

“I can't tell you how helpful these resources are for our students. We use them daily and for many, many different purposes. I would never be able to purchase the wide variety of resources that is provided by the state with my school's minimal library budget. Having databases funded at the state level makes all schools more equal regardless of the wealth of the district/community. This is exactly what libraries should be doing - making information accessible to all,” said one school librarian.

State budget reductions to the MBLC and MLS have resulted in fewer databases being made available to the public. Residents will no longer have access to important databases such as Opposing Viewpoints which is heavily used by students throughout the Commonwealth through their school and college libraries. “It’s never been more important to make sure that all residents, especially students, have access to trustworthy, vetted online information and resources,” said MBLC Director Dianne Carty. “We worked hard to secure as much as possible with less funding.” These resources are not available to consumers on the Internet without a paid subscription.

Because of the MBLC and MLS collaboration, residents will still have access to 22 periodical, biographical, e-reference and news databases. These resources offer an array of subjects covering general and scholarly interest, biographies, science, consumer health and nursing and allied health, reader’s advisory, literature and literary criticism, history, K-12 interest resources and newspapers including full-text of The New York Times and The Boston Globe dating back to 1980. All are available for desktops, tablets, and phones. No library card is needed for residents to use the resources. They can access them by going to their library’s webpage or through

Over 1600 school, public, academic and special libraries across the state benefit from these resources. If libraries subscribed to these databases individually, the expense would be millions of dollars more than the collaborative statewide contract. “The statewide database program is critical to our being able to help our patrons with reference questions. We would not be able to afford a fraction of the resources available through the state program,” said a public librarian. The resources are funded jointly by the MBLC and MLS with state funding and federal support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the MBLC. 

About MLS
The Massachusetts Library System is a state-supported collaborative that fosters cooperation, communication, innovation, and sharing among member libraries of all types with offices in Marlborough and Northampton.  The MLS promotes equitable access to excellent library services and resources for all who live, work, or study in Massachusetts.

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.