MBLC Launches Small Library Construction Pilot


May 17, 2021
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its May 6 board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners unanimously approved the launch of a new construction pilot program aimed at libraries in communities with populations under 2,000. Libraries in small communities have struggled to participate in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). During the last decade only 2 libraries were built or renovated in communities of this size, while in larger communities 32 projects have been completed.

“It’s an issue we’ve be looking at for some time,” said Lauren Stara, Construction Specialist at the MBLC. “MPLCP grants typically cover between 40% and 50% of construction costs, but for smaller communities the cost of building a library is still an obstacle. The new program streamlines the process and takes a more collaborative approach which we believe will make new libraries possible in these communities.”

Libraries in small communities are a critical resource. They are often the only access to broadband internet, free computers, educational classes and cultural programs for all ages, books, magazines, and other free resources.  “In our community, there’s the post office, town hall; the Athletic club--which is a private bar--the elementary school and the library. That’s it. The library’s role in a community like ours is so important,“ said Mary Anne Antonellis, Library Director in Shutesbury.

The pilot is open to 46 eligible libraries and towns; one will be selected. The MPLCP Small Library Construction Pilot project will be new construction, not renovation of an historic building or an addition. The design will be flexible and modular, based on Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians developed by the MBLC in collaboration with Sasaki.

More information about the Small Library Construction Pilot is available on the MBLC’s website. MPLCP grants provide critical funding that enables public libraries to meet the growing and rapidly changing demand for services. The MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, it has helped more than 250 communities plan, build, renovate and/or expand their public libraries. MPLCP projects are currently underway in the following communities: Dartmouth, Erving, Grafton, Greenfield, Hadley, Littleton, Marlborough, Medford, Norwell, Sharon, Sherborn. Projects in Weymouth, Springfield, and Boston were recently completed. Learn more about the program on the MBLC website and the Building Literacy podcast.

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.