Shutesbury Awarded Small Libraries Construction Grant


April 07, 2022
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its April 7, board meeting MBLC Commissioners voted to award the Small Library Pilot Project construction grant to the Town of Shutesbury. Over the past decade just two of the thirty-two libraries that were built as part of the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP), were in communities with populations under 2,000. The pilot program was launched in 2021 as a way to remedy that and to gather information on the unique challenges small and rural communities face when trying to build libraries that meet the needs of their communities.

“Libraries play a central and critical role in small town life. They are often the only place for community activities, for teens to gather, for educational programming, or for residents to access broadband internet,” said Library Building Specialist Lauren Stara. “With the information we’ve learned through the pilot program, we’re better equipped to create a pathway for small communities to improve library service through better library facilities.”

The grant totals 75% of the eligible cost. The final grant amount will be determined at the end of construction but will not exceed $6,000,000. Local funding is required to accept the grant. The date by which the town must accept the award is June 30, 2022.

Central to the Small Libraries Pilot has been efforts to ensure sustainable building practices and library buildings that are economical, durable, and efficient. "The MPLCP has a history of encouraging energy efficiency through its Green Library Incentive, an incentive born from Executive Order 484, which was signed in 2007. With the State's climate goals for a carbon neutral future, our program is embracing the new Executive Order 594: Decarbonizing and Minimizing Environmental Impacts of State Government, which was signed in 2021. Prioritizing energy efficiency and resilience for the construction of this pilot project further supports the sustainability that has always been a hallmark of library services throughout the Commonwealth," said Building Specialist Andrea Bono-Bunker.
The MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program was recently recognized by the Baker-Polito administration with a Leading By Example Award for work in helping the state meet its ambitious climate and clean energy goals.

The pilot was open to 59 eligible libraries and towns; four letters of intent were received and two communities, Shutesbury and Otis applied. The MBLC’s Library Building Specialists provided assistance and support to each applicant town in compiling and completing the required components for submission. Each application was reviewed by a four-member review team consisting of two former library directors familiar with the MPLCP grant program, the MBLC Grant Specialist, and one consulting architect.

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: Marlborough, Medford, Sharon, and Sherborn. Projects in Erving, Grafton, Hadley, Littleton, Norwell, and Roxbury 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.