State Aid Awarded to 344 Libraries


February 05, 2018
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. FY2018 State Aid program grants total more than $9 million and were awarded to all of the 344 public libraries that applied for the program. Thus far, libraries have received half of their grant awards with the remaining amount to come later this spring.

Commissioners also approved applications from 22 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 more than 6 million items from outside their own communities.

The number of libraries needing a MAR waiver has dropped dramatically since 2011 when a program high of 123 libraries applied for waivers. For FY2018 none of the 22 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.

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 53 million items available through the shared library system.

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.

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.