327 Receive State Aid Awards; 17 Request Waivers


January 04, 2019
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its January Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners certified twenty-two additional municipalities meeting all FY2019 requirements for the State Aid to Public Libraries Program.  In total, 327 libraries have met all state aid requirements and have been awarded $4,247,669.12 in state funding. The awards are roughly half of the total state aid funding that these libraries will receive. Following the Commonwealth's disbursement schedule, additional payments to libraries are expected toward the end of the grant cycle in the spring.

Commissioners also considered waivers of the Municipal Appropriations Requirement (MAR) for seventeen applicants. This is the lowest number of MAR waiver applicants since 2008 and well the below the 2011 high of 123 waiver applications. The MAR is funding, required in statute, to be provided by  the municipality to support the library. This and other State Aid requirements help create a strong foundation for reciprocal borrowing that allows patrons from certified libraries to borrow materials from other libraries. Of the seventeen libraries that applied for FY2019 MAR waivers, only two communities had budget reductions: Attleboro and Millville. The rest of the communities had budget increases but fell short of meeting the MAR.

Millville Public Library’s disproportionate budget reduction of 68.51% required that representatives from the community appear before the Board because the reduction was more than 5% greater than the adjusted municipal budget. Five percent is the benchmark used to indicate that the library has been targeted for budget reductions when compared with other municipal departments.  In their presentation to the commissioners, Library Director Colleen Anderson, Trustee Chair Colleen Curis, and former Finance Committee Chair Paul Oulette shared with Commissioners the value of the library to the community and potential pathways forward to improved library funding.

Attleboro Public Library’s reduction differed 4.82% from its municipal budget and it therefore was not required to appear before the Board. Commissioners will vote on MAR waiver applications at their February meeting.

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.

Participation in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program is voluntary. It is administered in accordance with statutory and regulatory minimum standards of free public library service. The program encourages municipalities to support and improve public library service, compensates for disparities among municipal funding capacities, and offsets the cost of circulating public library materials to residents from other certified Massachusetts municipalities.

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.