MBLC Chair Statement on Municipal Funding and State Aid Certification


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

The Board of Library Commissioners recognizes that the FY2021 State Aid to Public Libraries grant round has taken place in an atmosphere of continuing fiscal uncertainty as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. Despite these fiscal constraints 295 municipalities have met the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR). Another 48 municipalities have funded their libraries to within 10% of the reduction percentage in their total adjusted municipal budgets. However, four municipalities, Stoneham, Kingston, Hanover, and Oxford made significant disproportionate cuts in library funding.

When the Board grants a waiver to these municipalities, it is "with reservation", to indicate that a significant gap exists between library funding and the funding of other departments. This gap usually signals the beginning of erosion of library services for residents of the community. It is imperative that city/town officials work with their libraries to reduce or eliminate these disproportionate cuts in FY2022. Steep reductions in a library budget seriously impairs services provided to residents of the community and it often becomes a major challenge later to regain lost ground for the community and its library.

Ongoing reductions to one library’s budget also signal the erosion of library services beyond just that one community. Not only are the residents of the community impacted; there is a ripple effect of immediate and negative consequences for the surrounding libraries and on the networks that serve those communities, which, in turn, has an adverse effect on the statewide services we all share.

The State Aid to Public Libraries Program is an integral part of the Board of Library Commissioners mission “to support, develop, coordinate, improve and promote library services throughout the Commonwealth”.

The MBLC strives to provide every resident of the Commonwealth with full and equal access to library resources regardless of geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background. The Municipal Appropriation funding requirement, along with Minimum Standards of Free Public Library Service in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program, is the foundation of equity of access to quality library services across the Commonwealth. Inter-library collaboration and resource sharing is at the heart of this program.

Finally, municipalities that receive waivers with reservation this year will be required to return to the Board next January if they have not made significant increases to their library budgets and are applying for waivers again for FY 2022.

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.