New Funding to Support Sharing eContent


November 22, 2019
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its November 7 board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Commissioners (MBLC) approved the Library eBooks and Audiobooks (LEA) Content Grant round which provides participating library networks with $400,000 in additional funds to purchase shareable eContent. These funds directly support the continually growing demand for eBooks and Audiobooks across the Commonwealth.

“The grants will have a more direct positive impact on library patrons than any other use you could put the funds to,” said Phil McNulty, Director of the Minuteman Library Network, one of the first three networks to pilot the new eBook program. “They build upon existing success and help everyone, even people in the most remote and unconnected areas of the state."

EBook borrowing increased 42% between 2016 and 2018. Checkouts through the LEA program currently represent 11% of the total eContent borrowing. “What’s exciting about LEA is that for the first time, patrons can borrow eBooks and audiobooks from outside their own library network," said MBLC’s Electronic Services Specialist Kate Butler. “LEA is a step closer to sharing eContent in the same way we share print materials.” LEA gives patrons access to more than 350,000 titles from eight library networks and 345 participating libraries. Previous eBook programs gave users access to a shared statewide collection of 40,000 titles.

Digital borrowing is so popular with patrons that wait times for titles continue to increase, a situation compounded by ever-changing publisher restrictions, pricing, and limits on how libraries can share eContent. For example, a consumer pays $11.99 for the eBook Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; a library pays $65.00 for the same eBook. As of November 1, Macmillan Publishers began restricting libraries to one copy of all new titles for the first eight weeks after publication. “Within this challenging environment, we want all residents to have full and equal access to library resources. The LEA Content Grant will help reduce hold queues and patron wait times, and increase the breadth of the shared collection,” said Butler.

Funding for the LEA Content Grant is possible through a significant increase in state funding to the MBLC’s Library Technology and Resource Sharing budget line. LEA Content Grants will be available for the current fiscal year. Residents can find more information and start using LEA on The MBLC also provides $102,000 towards the fees networks pay to use OverDrive, the software and app that delivers the eContent for LEA.

LEA is made possible by the Massachusetts Automated Library Networks, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Massachusetts Library System and local libraries, funded in part by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

New Funding to Support Sharing eContent

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.