Final group certified in State Aid


February 07, 2020
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its January Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) certified the Duxbury Public Library which joined the 328 libraries meeting all FY2020 requirements for the State Aid to Public Libraries Program.  So far, libraries have been awarded  $4,899,035.76 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 approved waivers of the Municipal Appropriations Requirement (MAR) for sixteen applicants. This is 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 any other certified library. Of the sixteen libraries that applied for FY2020 MAR waivers, only one community had a budget reduction; the rest of the communities had budget increases but fell short of meeting the MAR.

FY2020 marks the first year of the new five-year State Aid to Public Libraries Waiver Plan which aims to help municipalities and their libraries meet the MAR after being granted a waiver. Historically, some libraries have received MAR waivers for a decade or more leading to chronic underfunding and potentially putting pressure on surrounding communities that fully fund their libraries to serve an influx of residents from the underfunded community.

Libraries that received a MAR waiver for FY2020 are in year one of the plan. In year two, libraries that apply for a waiver will submit a financial plan written by the municipality in conjunction with library trustees and the director and signed by library officials as well as a senior municipal official. The library and municipality may also be required to appear before the Commission. Should the library continue to need a waiver in subsequent years, it will submit an updated financial plan that describes the progress that has been made toward meeting the MAR and may need to appear before the Commission.  The new plan was recommended to the MBLC by the State Aid Review Committee which began a periodic review of the program in 2015.

MBLC Commissioners have made increased funding to State Aid to Public Libraries a priority in the FY2021 Legislative Agenda..  Please visit the MBLC website for information about current policies and requirements. State Aid has been awarded to municipalities and their libraries since 1890 when The Acts of 1890, chapter 347, ‘An Act to Promote the Establishment and Efficiency of Free Public Libraries,’ established the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, now known as the MBLC.

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.