Amid Growing Demand, MBLC Funds Statewide eContent


October 08, 2021
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its October board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved $500,000 in grants to Automated Networks to purchase eContent for the Library eBook and Audiobook (LEA) program. LEA gives Massachusetts residents access to eBooks, audiobooks, and more from 377 participating libraries from across the Commonwealth. This statewide system allows eContent to be shared in a similar way to physical materials, opening up access that was previously unavailable for eBooks and audiobooks.

The state-funded grants directly support the growing demand for eBooks and Audiobooks across the Commonwealth, including during the pandemic when checkouts through LEA jumped 40%. In a recent patron survey, when asked which library services most interested them (they could choose more than one), users ranked borrowing eContent (55%) and borrowing print books (56%) essentially equal as the top library service. Since 2018, to keep pace with demand, networks have more than doubled their spending on eContent that can be shared across the state.

In addition to the eContent grants, Commissioners also approved $94,000 in LEA Platform grants which offset the fee networks pay to use OverDrive, the software and app that delivers the eContent for LEA. This is the third year that the content grants have been made available. Grant awards are listed below.

Network Municipality Award (Content) Award (Platform)
CLAMS Barnstable $41,323,28 $12,000
CW MARS Worcester $72,929.91 $12,000
MBLN Boston $119,980.80 $10,000
Minuteman Library Network Natick $98,970.52 $12,000
MVLC North Andover $31,534.10 $12,000
NOBLE Danvers $33,186.12 $12,000
OCLN Braintree $53,202.20 $12,000
SAILS Lakeville $48,873.07 $12,000
$500,000 $94,000

The MBLC, Massachusetts Library System, Automated Networks and local libraries have been working to increase residents’ access to eBooks for nearly a decade. However, eBook and audiobook access through public libraries is often constrained by publisher restrictions, such as pricing, how many copies libraries can get, and how long libraries have to wait after the book is released to the general public. Some titles are not available to libraries at all. In an effort to ensure public access to eContent, Massachusetts Representative Balser has filed HD4418, An Act modernizing library access to electronic books and digital audiobooks.

Funding for the LEA Content Grant is possible through the MBLC’s Library Technology and Resource Sharing budget line, line 7000-9506, and is one of several grants available to Automated Sharing Networks through this line. LEA Platform grants are made possible by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. Residents can find more information and start using LEA on

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.