State Aid to Public Libraries: A Guide for Municipal Officials

State Aid to Public Libraries = Local Aid to Libraries

Massachusetts Libraries Board of Library Commissioners Guarantees access to 59 million items from across the state for residents whose library is certified in the program (reciprocal borrowing). Resident borrowing from libraries outside their local community has increased 30% in the last decade.
Massachusetts Libraries Board of Library Commissioners Saves money; for example, Pittsfield residents were able to borrow more than 19,908 items from other libraries because the library is State Aid certified*. If the library had to purchase these items it would cost an estimated $298,620.
Massachusetts Libraries Board of Library Commissioners Can be used in any way that supports library services.**

Reciprocal Borrowing by Municipality

Over the past year, over  6.4 million items have been shared between libraries in the Commonwealth. With an average item cost of $15, this equates to over $96 million in savings.

6,400,000 Items Borrowed*
$96,000,000 Saved
Decorative map of Massacusetts
over 6.4million items shared in 2023*
*Does not include eBooks, audiobooks or other digital downloads.

Why Staying Certified Matters

State Aid Certified? Yes No
Residents have access to:
Municipalities have access to:

Why Staying Certified Matters

If Libraries Are State Aid Certified
Residents have access to:
  • 59 million items from libraries across the state.
  • Resources through Library for the Commonwealth at Boston Public Library.
  • Statewide research databases.
Municipalities have access to:
  • Millions of dollars in library construction grants through the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program.
  • Federal grant money for local needs through the MBLC’s Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant Program.
  • The MBLC’s Small Libraries in Networks program which provides libraries that serve small communities (population under 10,000) with funding to support their network memberships.
If Libraries Are NOT State Aid Certified
Residents have access to:
  • Their library’s own collection.
  • Resources through Library for the Commonwealth at Boston Public Library.
  • Statewide research databases.
Municipalities have access to:
  • Nothing

For detailed information on State Aid Requirements, application process, or MAR waivers, please refer to the information on the MBLC website (link opens in a new window).

State Aid Histories

Histories may be found on the State Aid Annual Report Resource Guide (link opens in a new window) as one of the summary documents for each year.

For more information, please contact:

Jen Inglis, State Aid Specialist
617-725-1860 x227
857-488-6112 (Mobile)
jennifer.inglis@mass.gov (link opens in a new window)

Cate Merlin, Head of State Programs
617-725-1860 X220
857-283-5669 (Mobile)
Cate.Merlin@mass.gov (link opens in a new window)