Skip to main content

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

MPLCP Planning & Design: Preplanning



It all starts with a phone call! Contact MBLC's library building specialists and they can start you on the road to a major capital improvement of your facility.

We would be happy to visit your library, tour your building, and give you an overview of the planning, design and construction process and how the MPLCP may be able to help. Later, you may want us to meet with your Board.

(800) 952-7403 (in MA) or (617) 725-1860
Lauren Stara, ext. 245
Andrea Bunker, ext. 246

Build Awareness

Your first major task is advocacy. Start now to raise the profile of the library and its facility needs. New to advocacy? The American Library Association has an Advocacy University section on their website with lots of tools and guides to help you.

Time is on your side. Use this preplanning stage to build awareness of the library in your community and with local decision makers. We know this is an annual objective of every one of our public libraries across the state, but now is the time to up your game and advocate strategically. We don't suggest that you go out and lobby for a new and improved library space - not yet. Instead, you will want to build or strengthen partnerships, open a dialog with users and nonusers and listen to their ideas about what they want. The appetite for services, programs and collections is changing rapidly, and your constituents want to be heard. Grow and nurture your Friends of the Library group. Improve your relationships with local media, if you haven't already, and make sure you are smart in how you are using all the social media tools available. Court the movers and shakers in your community in anticipation of drawing on them into the greater cause later. 

This is probably nothing that you don't already know, but the stakes are much higher with a building project!


Improving your library's facility is a significant commitment of resources, time, and goodwill. In most cases it takes years, if not decades, to complete a major capital improvement project. Its pursuit demands serious discussion on the Board level. If the decision is made to "go for it," the plan should be incorporated in the library's strategic plan and updates. It is essential to be clear with local officials about the library's intentions so that they understand the need for and the complexity of the project.

Governing officials will want to know that the MPLCP state grant program has a proven track record and may be able to help offset costs during both the planning and design and construction stages. The average construction grant covers approximately 45 - 50% of construction costs. While local officials and some others may not be committed at this stage, they need to be made aware, and now is the time to get them on board.