Progress on Construction Bond and Cap


November 01, 2019
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

Efforts by Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) staff, commissioners and members of the library community to increase the bond authorization for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) after its FY2020 request fell short, are paying off.  Late last week the MBLC was notified that the bond authorization in H4154 for library construction was increased to $150 million from $100 million. “We’re encouraged,” said Director Lonergan. “Legislators clearly understood that this increase was needed to get all waitlisted projects funded.” 

That understanding came, in part, from a recent hearing for H4154, where MBLC Chair Roland Ochsenbein, MBLC Director Lonergan, Swansea Library Director Eileen Dyer, and Director of Neighborhood Projects at Boston Public Library Priscilla Foley provided testimony and answered questions about the construction program. Swansea is last on the MPLCP waitlist and would not have been funded without the increase; Boston’s Dudley Square branch is also on the waitlist and Boston Public Library has indicated an interest in applying for the next grant round. Library directors and trustees from the public libraries in Westborough, Grafton, Berlin, Lynnfield, Pittsfield, and Gloucester also attended and were recognized at the hearing.

Legislators who supported an increase include Representatives Natalie Higgins and Brian Murray, co-chairs of the House Library Caucus, Senator Dean Tran, and Representative Antonio Cabral, Chair of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets who, in a recent meeting with MBLC staff, indicated his support for increased funding.  The MBLC also received letters of support from the communities of Nahant and Lynnfield.

While the $150 million will cover all the projects on the waitlist, it is not enough to start a new constructcion grant round which is why the MBLC’s original request was for $250 million. There are currently 42 libraries interested in a future grant round. The MBLC is in discussions with Representatives Higgins and Murray and is considering next steps. A vote on H4154 is expected by the end of December.

Progress has also been made towards raising the annual capital budget for the MPLCP from $20 million to $25 million, which would shorten the time a waitlisted community waits for funding. Raising the annual capital budget happens through the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (A&F) and while MBLC staff met frequently with A&F representatives last year; this year the meetings have taken a new direction. “We share A&F’s desire to shorten the waitlist for future grant rounds,” said Lonergan. “MBLC staff came to the recent meeting prepared with ways to accomplish that as well as other program improvements, and we were encouraged by  A&F ’s reaction. “

MPLCP grants provide crucial funding that enables public libraries to meet the growing and rapidly changing demand for services. Statewide, attendance at public library programs has increased 49% since 2006 and every 5.5 seconds a Massachusetts resident accesses the Internet through a public library. The MPLCP has benefitted more than 250 towns and cities in Massachusetts since its inception in 1987. Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program projects are currently underway in Boston, Cambridge, Dartmouth, Erving, Grafton, Hadley, Littleton, Marlborough, Medford, Norwell, Sharon, Sherborn, Springfield, and Weymouth.

 For more information about the MPLCP please visit the MBLC’s website.

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.