All the recommendations presented to the Board at the October 2015 meeting are listed here. The recommendations that were approved in March 2016 are available on the Approved Changes page.
Information on the recommendations that were not approved, or moved to the work of the to-be-determined Waiver Working Group, are available in the Documents box on this page.
Committee members were asked to submit two recommendations at the last meeting to be included in the report to the Board. They were to keep in mind that in the end, what matters most about the State Aid program is that it improves the lives of every resident of the Commonwealth by creating incentives for municipalities to invest in their public libraries. Strong libraries build strong municipalities by supporting formal education and lifelong learning, by supporting economic development and literacy, and through the public library’s role as a center of civic engagement that strengthens our democracy. The recommendations listed below are distilled from the in-meeting work of the committee and comments to agency staff from library directors over the past few years. A full list of all the recommendations of the committee is available in Appendix I. The recommendations are presented in context with regards to the equivalent piece of the current State Aid to Public Libraries Program in chart form in Appendix J. That chart also includes the statute, regulation, or policy that would require appropriate changes or new additions to achieve the recommendations.
More flexibility was sought in regards to the compliance period. Changing the current requirement for Hours Open from Labor Day to Memorial Day to any nine consecutive months would provide this flexibility. This would be beneficial for libraries that have a large change in the number of residents during the summer months or libraries that have increased attendance due to summer programming.
Materials Expenditure Requirement
In order to keep up with the latest resources for patrons, committee members felt it was important for libraries to update public access computers on a regular basis. Permitting libraries to count a percentage (to be determined) of the cost of providing technology for direct use by patrons as a Material Expenditure would be allowable.
Library budgets vary greatly in what the line items the municipality includes. In order to determine a more equitable arrangement, the Materials Expenditure Requirement should be based on only those budget items that most libraries have in common such as materials, and salaries and wages.
Municipal Appropriation Requirements (MAR)
The Administrative Policy for calculating the Municipal Appropriation Requirement (MAR) would be retired and the MAR would be calculated solely according the MGL, c.78, s.19A:
No city or town shall receive any money under this section in any year when the appropriation of said city or town for free public library services is below an amount equal to the average of its appropriation for free public library service for the three years immediately preceding, increased by two and one-half per cent of said average.
For example, FY2017 MAR= (FY2016 appropriation + FY2015 municipal appropriation + FY2014 municipal appropriation) / 3, plus 2.5%.
It was suggested that municipally appropriated revolving fund accounts be eliminated from the MAR and the current MAR for those municipalities that use revolving fund accounts as part of their municipal appropriation be re-calculated.
When long-time staff retire, a library may see a drop in its personnel line. It has been suggested that the MAR be re-calculated to reflect this. (This is a common occurrence when a municipality starts paying utilities from a central budget and the library budget drops accordingly.)
Cities and Towns vary greatly in their ability to recover from cuts to their operating budgets. Often several years are needed after the initial budget cuts to restore and increase funds, resulting in repeated, annual requests for waivers of the MAR. Create a process that establishes steps and a time frame for waiver communities to meet the MAR.