Preparing to Apply

LSTA Direct Grants

MBLC offers grants direct to library through an annual grant round. The grant cycle follows the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY), October 1 - September 30.

All types of libraries in Massachusetts may apply if they meet eligibility criteria. Attention to deadlines and details is also essential for success: funds are finite and only applicants who fulfill all requirements can be considered.

Application Requirements

Requirements must be satisfied prior to applying:

  • Ensure a current Long Range/Strategic Plan is on file with MBLC
  • File an Action Plan with the MBLC for the year in which the grant money will be expended
  • Be a member of the Massachusetts Library System
  • Public Libraries: be certified to participate in State Aid program for prior fiscal year

Choose a Grant Opportunity

In general, libraries may apply for only one grant per cycle. To have the most developed plan, we therefore recommend deciding upon the area of focus as early on in the process as possible.  Our current opportunities were designed with Massachusetts' Long Range LSTA goals in mind.  However, if you don’t find a grant opportunity offered that you hoped you would find, the Board offers an Innovative/Open grant program. 

Example Application and Grant Cycle

NOTE: This timeline is approximate and provided for example purposes only.  For deadlines relating to the current application cycle, see our Application page. For deadlines relating to grants already awarded, see our Managing Your Grant page

Applying for and executing an LSTA direct grant is a 2-year process (3 years in the case of a 2-year grant award) and follows a strict timeline.  During the first year, the application is written, evaluated, and approved. Contractual agreements are signed by those receiving an award.  The second year sees the disbursement of funds and the execution of the grant plan, along with required reporting by the grantee back to the MBLC. 

Year 1

October 1

Beginning of the FFY

Long Range/Strategic Plans must be filed by this date


Grant Round Announced

Specific dates and deadlines for current application cycle become available

December 1

Action Plans must be filed by this date

December 7

Letters of Intent Due
All libraries planning to submit an application must provide a letter of intent to MBLC. The letter is the library's formal declaration of their intention to apply under a specific grant opportunity. This early notice allows MBLC staff to begin preparations to support libraries (and librarians) through the process.


Grant Writing Workshops Held
MBLC staff will hold several grant writing workshops around the state. Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend in person if possible. Persons considering applying in future years are also welcome to attend. A pre-recorded webinar is available for those unable to come in person.

February 22

Application Draft Due
Each applicant will be assigned to a consultant at MBLC who will assist them with questions and preparing their application. A draft of the complete application is due in to the consultant toward the end of February, so there is time for it to be reviewed and returned for any needed revisions.

March 27

Application Drafts Returned
By the end of March, the MBLC consultants will review the draft applications for compliance with LSTA regulations and clarity. The goal is for libraries to be ready to submit their best application.

April 7

Final Applications Due
Final applications are due. A copy must be emailed to the MBLC and physical copies must be postmarked by this date.


Applications Evaluated
MBLC staff and members of the State Advisory Council on Libraries (SACL) will read and review the applications. SACL will make a recommendation as to which grants should be funded.


Board of Library Commissioners Awards Grants
At their July board meeting, the Board of Library Commissioners will vote to award the grants.

July - September

Administrative Paperwork
Grant winners will need to sign contracts agreeing to LSTA terms and conditions and accepting their grant.

Year 2

October 1

Next FFY Begins

Grant winners begin receiving disbursement of funds

April 15

Interim Report Due

First Financial Reports Due

September 30

All grant monies must be expended

All grant activities must be complete

October 15

Final Report Due

Final Financial Reports Due

For More Information

Robert Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development
617-725-1860 x237
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403, x237

Amy Clayton, Administrative Coordinator
617-725-1860 x228
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403, x228