Libraries Certified in State Aid


February 09, 2021
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its January Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved 294 libraries that met all requirements for certification in the FY2021 State Aid to Public Libraries program. State Aid program grants total $12 million, an increase of 33% since FY2018 when the MBLC made it a priority in its Legislative Agenda. Libraries will receive half of their grant awards with the remaining amount released late spring.

Commissioners also reviewed applications from 52 libraries that need a waiver of the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) in order to be certified in the program. The MAR is funding from the municipality to support the library. Four of the 52 libraries had a budget cut considered to be disproportionate when compared with reductions to other municipal departments. To help more libraries maintain certification, Commissioners recently raised the disproportionate cut benchmark from 5% to 10%. Cuts beyond the 10% benchmark may indicate that the library has been targeted for budget reductions much greater than other municipal departments.

During the February MBLC board meeting, representatives from the four communities with reductions beyond 10% (Stoneham, Kingston, Hanover and Oxford) appeared virtually before the Commissioners to present information on the reductions and how the library will be funded in the future. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on MAR waivers during the March board meeting and will also consider one more library that meets all requirements.

Funding from the State Aid to Public Library Program goes directly to support public library services. The reciprocity that comes with library certification in the State Aid program is often what patrons value most. It allows them to use any State Aid certified library in the Commonwealth and gives patrons access to more than 73 million items available through the shared library system. In response to COVID-19, Commissioners have adjusted State Aid Program requirements.

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.

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.