Future-Focused Construction Regulations Approved


December 01, 2022
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

At its December meeting the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved new regulations for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) which works with local communities to plan, build, renovate and expand their public libraries.

“In its 35 years, the MPLCP has worked with over 250 communities and served as a model for other states,” said Library Building Specialist Andrea Bono-Bunker. “The new regulations take the program into the future and ensure sustainable, lifecycle-conscious buildings, that meet the needs of the people they serve.” Since 2008, the MPLCP has championed green building practices and projects built under the new regulations will follow Executive Order 594 to support the construction of highly efficient public libraries across the Commonwealth.

The regulations reflect over two years of feedback and input from the library community, architects, state and local officials, and library users. Highlights include a streamlined application process, a focus on community need, and no upfront design work.  “The process will save money, but it will also be more competitive,” said Ms. Bono-Bunker.  In the past all applicant libraries that met the criteria for a fundable project but that weren’t immediately funded were placed on a waitlist. The new regulations greatly reduce this practice. In addition, projects will be tiered and evaluated based on project size: small, medium, and large, to ensure that in any given grant cycle libraries of all sizes are funded.

Based on the successful pilot project created to assist communities with populations under 2,500, Small Population Public Library Projects is one of the new tiered grant categories added as part of the regulations. “In small towns, libraries 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 learned through the pilot program, we’ve removed obstacles, increased support, and created a pathway for these small communities to improve library services.”

With the board’s vote, changes to construction regulations, 605 CMR 6.00, are officially adopted as permanent regulations and will be used to govern the next grant round which will be announced in 2023. Several factors play into the ability to award new grants and the number of projects that can be funded, including the project size of applicants, the approval of a new $150 million bond authorization, and the steady increase of the annual cap, currently at $24 million, by $1 million annually for the next four years to keep pace with construction escalation costs.

The MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. MPLCP projects are currently underway in the following communities: Amherst, Greenfield, Marlborough, Melrose, and Sharon. 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.