Small Public Libraries

The MBLC recognizes an additional commitment to small public libraries in Massachusetts through a variety of programs and services. Small public libraries are generally recognized as public libraries in municipalites under 10,000 in population.

ARSL/Small Library Forum Planning Grant

The ARSL/Small Library Forum Planning Grant program is an opportunity for Massachusetts public librarians in communities under 25,000 to receive funding to attend the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) annual conference. The next ARSL Conference will be held in Wichita, Kansas, September 30-October 3, 2020.

This grant will provide funding to support the recipient for a one year membership to ARSL, conference registration, and other approved associated costs. In order to be eligible to apply, an individual must work in a Massachusetts public library in a community under 25,000 and that library must be a Massachusetts Library System (MLS) member. The recipient must also commit to serving as part of the 2021 Massachusetts Small Library Forum Planning Committee.

Small Libraries in Networks Grants

The Small Libraries in Network program helps Massachusetts public libraries in municipalites under 10,000 afford membership in an automated resource sharing network. The MBLC believes that full participation in a resource sharing network is the best way to fully serve residents and provide equal access to materials from all over the state.

LSTA grants will help a small library join a network.  The network applies on behalf of your library.

Annual support through account 7000-9506 helps offset the annual costs of membership.  Offsets between $1,200 and $2,700 are adjusted based on the library's budget vs. the network assessment and the municipal EQV.

Small Library Forums

MBLC and MLS jointly produce small library forums to provide continuing education and best practices for libraries, as well as to hear from the small library community.  Libraries are also able to showcase projects and services that might be replicated by their peers.

Small Libraries Forum 2020: Small Libraries, Big Connections

Jointly produced by MBLC and MLS, the 2020 Small Libraries forum will take place virtually on November 17 and 18. This year’s event is made possible with funding from the Manton Foundation as well as federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

More details on the event, including registration and a schedule of programs, will be available closer to the date.

Call for Programs

Forum organizers will provide the technical medium for presentations. Proposals are due August 14.

The national definition for small/rural libraries is serving populations of 25,000 or less. Since this forum is aimed at Massachusetts small libraries, we are primarily looking for proposals from those working in libraries serving populations of 10,000 or less. However, we will gladly accept proposals from libraries serving larger populations if the program can be scaled to be used by Massachusetts small libraries.

All about collaborations
We are looking for 3-4 individuals to be part of a panel focusing on collaborations. All partnership and collaboration experiences welcomed: the successes, the failures, the unexpected – share your lessons learned with others. The format will consist of each panel member giving brief presentation followed by a Q & A session with a moderator. 

Submit Your Proposal

How does your library play to its strengths?

We’re looking for 4-6 individuals to highlight their library successes through Ignite sessions. Each presenter will have 10-15 minutes to show how their library was successful by playing to its strength. We are interested in both pandemic-related successes and non-pandemic successes.

Submit Your Proposal

If you have any questions, please get in touch with either Kristi Chadwick at MLS ( or Lyndsay Forbes at MBLC (


Construction Projects for Small Libraries

MBLC construction consulting staff have expertise with all sizes of public libraries. Support for small libraries in particular is being developed.

MBLC Professional Collection

The MBLC library has a number of publications on small public library management.

MBLC titles are searchable through the NOBLE catalog.

Requesting Materials

  • NOBLE members: Request directly through the NOBLE catalog.
  • Members of other networks: Request through the Commonwealth Catalog.
  • If you need help: Contact Maura Deedy, or call 1-800-952-7403 (in-state)/617-725-1860, ext. 250.

Our loan period is generally one month. We are happy to extend this loan period unless we have a reserve list for a particular book.

For More Information

Small Libraries in Networks

Paul Kissman, Library Information Systems Specialist
617-725-1860 x238
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403 x238

Small Library Construction

Lauren Stara, Library Building Consultant
617-725-1860 x245
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403 x245

General Support

Kristi Chadwick, MLS Small Libraries Consultant
866-627-7228 x117