Due to COVID-19 State Aid library requirements relaxed


April 06, 2020
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Massachusetts and in an effort to support and protect the Commonwealth’s municipal libraries, their dedicated staff members, Trustees, and the patrons they serve and to assist them in their future recovery efforts, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners ( MBLC) voted to suspend some requirements for the State Aid to Public Libraries Program and revised the Five Year Waiver Policy and the Library Closure Policy in acknowledgement of the current crisis. These changes are to the FY 2020 State Aid to Public Libraries Program Policies, which affects library reporting as part of the FY 2021 State Aid cycle. Full changes to the program are available on the MBLC website.

“In tough times, we know that many more people turn to libraries for everything from help with finding a job, to free access to Internet so that they can file government forms, to free access to educational and entertainment resources for them and their families, “said Mary Rose Quinn, Head of State Programs and Government Liaison at the MBLC. “We want our libraries to be as strong as possible so that they can help Massachusetts residents get back on their feet.”

For the Hours Open Requirement, hours reported up to the Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration on March 10, 2020 will be considered as meeting the full requirement. For the Materials Expenditure Requirement, expenditures on materials for FY 2020 from July 1, 2019 up to the Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration on March 10, 2020 will be considered as meeting the full requirement.

The Closure of a Public Library Policy was revised to include for clarification, examples of natural catastrophes, i.e.  fire, flood, storms, and epidemics/pandemics and other states of emergencies (Federal, State, and Local). 

Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) Chapter 78, Section 19A was not changed. The MAR is funding, required in statute, to be provided by the municipality to support the library. Libraries that are unable to meet the MAR may apply for a waiver.

The MBLC will continue to request additional waivers beyond the statutory limit of ten in the state budget language. This provides municipalities experiencing financial hardship with an opportunity to continue participation in the State Aid Program

The State Aid to Public Libraries program is vital to the operation of the successful statewide library system because it provides the basis for sharing library resources across the Commonwealth. Libraries that are certified in the state aid program work together to give residents access to more than 59 million items beyond what their local library is able to offer. The State Aid to Public Libraries Program is funded through state budget line 7000-9501. MBLC Commissioners have made increased funding to State Aid to Public Libraries a priority in the FY2021 Legislative Agenda.  

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 across the state.

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.