With a $13,871,314 provisional grant award to Amherst at its May 6 meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) resumed Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) grants that had been paused due to COVID-19. Amherst has until November 7, 2021 to accept the grant or request an extension.
The MBLC anticipates awarding another provisional grant to Melrose in July. The ability for the MBLC to move through the rest of the waitlist is dependent on several factors: the state’s annual spending cap for the program which is $20 million for FY21 and FY22, the size of the provisional awards offered in a given year, whether waitlisted libraries that are awarded a provisional grant award are able to appropriate the required local funding, and the number of underway projects that receive their final payments.
While grants were paused, the last year has been busy with MPLCP projects in the following communities: Boston, Dartmouth, Erving, Grafton, Greenfield, Hadley, Littleton, Marlborough, Medford, Norwell, Sharon, Sherborn, Springfield, and Weymouth. Throughout the construction process, these communities were supported by MBLC construction specialists.
Construction specialists also launched a new podcast Building Literacy: Public Library Construction. The podcast, which has listeners from across the world, takes on a variety of issues related to library construction including sustainable architecture, designing libraries for pandemics, HVAC and COVID, taxes and capital projects, marketing and more.
In collaboration with Sasaki, they developed Library Space: A Planning Resource for Librarians, a formal set of best practices for designing library space that may be applied to libraries across the nation. It takes the user through the step by step process of determining what to consider when designing a new library for their community, and includes illustrations of different room types, adjacencies, shelving, and seating that can be considered for a building project. They also developed a pandemic addendum which includes design considerations for a pandemic. Library Space has been featured in numerous publications and copies have been requested from libraries across the country.
MPLCP grants provide critical funding that enables public libraries to meet the growing and rapidly changing demand for services. The MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, it has helped more than 250 communities build, renovate and/or expand their public libraries. Learn more about the program on the MBLC website and the Building Literacy podcast.