MBLC Helps Hard Hit Libraries and Statewide Organizations


October 21, 2021
Matthew Perry
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x240

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is using ARPA funds to help libraries in communities deemed “hard hit by COVID” by Governor Baker’s office to provide programs and services that will help their communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health designated twenty communities as hard hit by COVID, including Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, and Worcester. According to the Department of Health website, “The 20 cities and towns are those hardest hit by COVID-19, taking into account case rates as well as the social determinants of health and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color,” adding, “Over centuries, discriminatory and exclusionary policies and practices have shaped where people live and work. These factors are part of the social determinants of health and directly impact residents' health as well as their access to opportunities that promote health.”

A total of $975,000 was given to the twenty libraries, with nineteen receiving a requested $50,000, and one receiving a requested $25,000. This amount is over a quarter of the $3.5 million in ARPA funds that was given to the MBLC through IMLS. The money will be used for a variety of different projects that will help the library and town make the library more accessible, improve technology, undertake outreach services, offer career, skill, and language assistance to the public, provide opportunities to youth in the communities, and train library staff.

In addition to the communities hard hit by COVID, funding was also given to the Perkins Library, Worcester Talking Book Library, and Massachusetts Center for the Book. Each organization is receiving $50,000 and will use it to provide more programming, training, and outreach to residents of the Commonwealth.

Grant Highlights:

Lawrence: Lawrence will use funding to complete the “Welcome Center,” a newly outfitted area of the Library with a new welcome desk, tables and chairs, software to effectively organize community resources for dissemination, programs for the community to engage with the Center and the marketing of those program, and childcare for parents who need to set up one on one appointments with a member of the team.

Leominster, New Bedford, and Springfield: These cities will purchase new Outreach Vans, an updated version of the Bookmobile. The vans will allow them to go to neighborhoods around the city and reach people who may not otherwise be able to access library services.

Brockton: Funds will be used to purchase an inflatable planetarium. The library will then create a lending program around it, which will enable elementary schools, middle schools, and organizations in the community to have access to planetarium technology as a community service of the Brockton Public Library.

The MBLC received American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’ grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit

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.