Regulations & Standards

To be certified each fiscal year, a municipality and its library must meet its Municipal Appropriation Requirement and the Minimum Standards of Free Public Library Service.

Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR)

Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L., c.78, s.19A) states that a municipality must appropriate a figure of at least the average of the last 3 years' municipal appropriations to the library for operations, increased by 2.5%, in order to be certified for State Aid to Public Libraries.

This calculated figure is known as the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR).

A municipality must meet the MAR or apply for and receive a waiver of the MAR in order to be eligible to be certified for State Aid to Public Libraries by the MBLC. Capital appropriations cannot be used to meet the MAR.

How to Calculate the MAR

The MAR is calculated using the prior 3 years' municipal appropriations for operating expenses or the MAR figure, whichever is higher. The average of the 3 years' figures is increased by 2.5% to determine the MAR figure for the current fiscal year.

[(FYaa + FYbb + FYcc) / 3] x 1.025 = MAR for FYdd

MAR Calculation Tool (Excel) — Use this tool to calculate the MAR for your municipality.


Minimum Standards of Free Public Library Service

In addition to the MAR, libraries must comply with the following standards during the prior year.

All

All residents of the Commonwealth can access reading and reference rooms under the same conditions as residents of the community (605 CMR 4.01[1]).

This requirement means that no charges can be levied on residents of the local community for the withdrawal of library books in the regular circulating collections of the community's public library or libraries.

A charge may be made, however, for

  • duplicate pay and/or rental collections
  • reserving books
  • lending of special media of communication such as recordings, films, or pictures
  • special reference or research services such as preparation of bibliographies, photocopying, or abstracting

The Minimum Hours Open requirement is defined in statute and regulation (MGL, c.78, s.19B and 605 CMR 4.01[3]).

In order to be eligible to apply for State Aid to Public Libraries, a library must be open the minimum required hours, days, and evening hours for its population group (see chart below).

Libraries may close for renovations, emergencies, inclement weather, or for other typical reasons for closure, and still meet the Minimum Hours Open Requirement. However, a library may not close for financial reasons (i.e., closing to save utility costs or to furlough employees). If the library closes for fiscal reasons, the library will lose its certification immediately upon closure.

Minimum Hours Open Requirement

(unless using the Hours Open Accommodation Policy)

Population Size Number of Hours Number of Days Portion of Day
Under 2,000 10 not specified including some evening hours
2,000 - 4,999 15 not specified including some evening hours
5,000 - 9,999 25 not specified including some evening hours
10,000 - 14,999 40 5 including some evening hours
15,000 - 24,999 50 5 including some evening hours
25,000 - 49,999 59 6 including some morning, afternoon, & evening hours
50,000 and over 63 6 including some morning, afternoon, & evening hours

Request for Flexibility

Per regulation, "each library shall be open at least the minimum required hours for its population group (refer to the minimum standards contained in 605 CMR 4.01[3]). A library that is open the required hours for a larger population group may, by request of the Library Director and Chair of the Board of Trustees, expend the required materials expenditure for that population group. The request shall be made by filing a Notification of Request for Flexibility for the Materials Expenditure Requirement (Word) with the Board of Library Commissioners as part of the State Aid to Public Libraries Application."

Massachusetts General Laws state that a library must "employ trained library personnel in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board of Library Commissioners."

"Trained library personnel" is defined in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations as a library director who has achieved a specified level of education and experience. These requirements are scaled to the population size of the municipality. Directors must also hold a certificate of librarianship from the MBLC.

The following is a list of the minimum director personnel requirements for municipalities with populations of 10,000 and up.

General & Professonal Education

Minimum Requirement: Hold a master's degree from an ALA accredited Library Science program
Compliance Required: Upon appointment

Experience

Minimum Requirement: Have experience in library work including supervisory experience
Compliance Required: Upon appointment

Certification

Minimum Requirement: Hold a certificate of Professional Librarianship issued by the Board of Library Commissioners
Compliance Required: Upon appointment

(Citations: MGL c.78 s.19B[4] and 605 CMR 4.01[4].)

Massachusetts General Laws state that a library must "employ trained library personnel in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board of Library Commissioners."

"Trained library personnel" is defined in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations as a library director who has achieved a specified level of education and experience. These requirements are scaled to the population size of the municipality. Directors must also hold a certificate of librarianship from the MBLC.

The following is a list of the minimum director personnel requirements for municipalities with populations under 10,000.

General & Professonal Education

Minimum Requirement: Hold a bachelor's degree
Compliance Required: Upon appointment

Special Library Training

Minimum Requirement: Complete the Basic Library Techniques special training in Administration, Cataloging, Materials Selection, and Reference.
Compliance Required: Within five years of the date of appointment

Certification

Minimum Requirement: Hold a certificate of Subprofessional Librarianship issued by the Board of Library Commissioners
Compliance Required: Either upon appointment (if there is prior library work experience) or within six months (if there is no prior experience)

(Citations: MGL c.78 s.19B[4] and 605 CMR 4.01[4].)

The Materials Expenditure Requirement is defined in statute and regulation (MGL, c.78, s.19B; 605 CMR 4.01[5]). It is a percentage of the municipal appropriation to the library, based on the population of the municipality served by the library.

How to Calculate the Materials Expenditure Requirement

Use the initial beginning fiscal year municipal appropriation to the library. Multiply the appropriation by the population-based percentage listed in the chart below.

If the initial appropriation is reduced during the fiscal year, the requirement is computed by using the lower appropriation. If the appropriation is increased by the end of the fiscal year, the initial, lower appropriation is used.

initial FYaa appropriation x population-based percent requirement = dollar amount to be expended for library materials during FYaa

Any source of income to the library's budget can be used to purchase materials to meet the expenditure requirement. The portion of the library's expenditure for network membership that goes towards electronic content can be used towards the Materials Expenditure Requirement.

Population size

Percentage of appropriation that must be spent on library materials*

Under 2,000 20%
2,000 - 4,999 19.5%
5,000 - 9,999 19%
10,000 - 14,999 16%
15,000 - 24,999 15%
25,000 - 49,999 13%
50,000 and over 12%

*Unless using theMaterials Expenditure Accommodation Policy or if making a Request for Flexibility.

Request for Flexibility

Per regulation, "each library shall be open at least the minimum required hours for its population group (refer to the minimum standards contained in 605 CMR 4.01[3]). A library that is open the required hours for a larger population group may, by request of the Library Director and Chair of the Board of Trustees, expend the required materials expenditure for that population group. The request shall be made by filing a Notification of Request for Flexibility for the Materials Expenditure Requirement with the Board of Library Commissioners as part of the State Aid to Public Libraries Application."

Certified libraries must "lend books and other materials to other libraries in the Commonwealth and extend privileges to holders of cards issued by other public libraries in the Commonwealth on a reciprocal basis (605 CMR 4.01[6])."

State Aid application forms and the Annual Report Information Survey (ARIS) must be completed each year for eligibility.

Massachusetts General Laws require that libraries must "lend books to other libraries in the commonwealth and extend privileges to the holders of cards issued by other public libraries in the commonwealth on a reciprocal basis."

The Code of Massachusetts Regulations states that libraries accepting State Aid to Public Libraries awards must lend (via interlibrary loan) to other public libraries that are also receiving State Aid. They must also lend to residents of communities whose libraries receive State Aid. However:

  • Materials purchased with trust fund monies are exempt from this requirement if lending to nonresidents or via interlibrary loan would violate the terms of the trust fund.
  • Local libraries have the right to refuse to negotiate an interlibrary loan for registered borrowers who are flagrantly delinquent.

Annual compliance with this requirement is assured by the signature of the Chair of the Board of Trustees on the State Aid to Public Libraries Compliance Form.

Massachusetts General Laws also require that libraries shall "include in their annual report the total number of nonresident loans and nonresident circulation as a percentage of the library's total circulation, as certified by the librarian and subject to an audit by the state auditor."

Definitions

Nonresident is a Massachusetts resident who is not a resident of the reporting municipality. Nonresident status is defined by the local municipality but cannot be more restrictive than the U.S. Bureau of the Census definition of resident in effect at the beginning of the reporting period.

Nonresident circulation is the direct, over-the-counter loan of library materials, including renewals of these items, to nonresidents.

Total number of nonresident loans is the actual total count, either using a manual or an automated system, of direct, over-the-counter loans of library materials, including renewals of these items, to all nonresidents.

Total number of eligible nonresident loans is the actual count, either using a manual or an automated system, of direct, over-the-counter loans of library materials, including renewals of these items, to all nonresidents who are residents of municipalities certified to receive State Aid to Public Libraries during the reporting period.

(Citations: MGL c.78 s.19A(4); 19B(6) and 19B(7) and 605 CMR 4.01(6) and (7); 605 CMR 4.02)

For More Information

Mary Rose Quinn, Head of State Programs
617-725-1860 x220
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403 x220
maryrose.quinn@state.ma.us

Liz Babbitt, State Aid Specialist
617-725-1860 x227
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403 x227
liz.babbitt@state.ma.us