Record Number of Libraries Certified in State Aid


March 04, 2021
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its March 4 meeting the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), voted to certify waiver applicants and one additional library meeting full requirements in the State Aid to Public Libraries program. Combined with libraries certified last month, 347 have been certified in the FY2021 State Aid to Public Libraries program, making it the most libraries certified in sixty years.

Tyringham joined the program for the first time since 1961, Millville re-joined the program after losing certification in 2019, and Hancock joined the program last year after not participating since 1975. Only three public libraries are not certified in the program.

“It’s a testament to the importance of the program and the way certification opens up access for residents to resources, both digital and physical, from libraries across the Commonwealth,” said Maryrose Quinn Head of State Programs and Government Liaison at the MBLC

Commissioners also approved waivers of the Municipal Appropriations Requirement (MAR) for 52 communities. The MAR is funding from the municipality to support the library. This includes waivers with reservations for four communities: Stoneham, Kingston, Hanover and Oxford. A waiver with reservation indicates that a significant gap exists between library funding and the funding of other departments. Disproportionate cuts of more than 10% may signal that the library has been targeted for budget reductions.

In a statement read during the meeting, MBLC Chair MaryAnn Cluggish recognized the 295 municipalities that met all program requirements even during this difficult time and stressed the importance of keeping libraries funded.

State Aid to Public Libraries 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.

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 one of the benefits 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 temporarily adjusted State Aid Program requirements to help libraries maintain certification.

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.