Skip to main content

MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


Simmons College library, circa 1930s

Photograph of the library at Simmons College, circa 1930s.1

Across-the-board state budget cuts had an effect on the Board's operations during 1939. At one point during the budget hearing process, the Senate cut the Board of Free Public Library Commissioners' budget appropriation all together. The budget was eventually restored - although not fully - after senators and representatives heard from libraries in their districts.

By the end of the process, $3,000 was reduced from the Division's "already meagre budget." In the same annual report, the December 1938 to November 1939 budget was reported to be $17,9522 (around $300,000 in 2015 dollars, according to online inflation calculators).

Throughout the MBLC's 125 year history, the Agency has had its share of budget ups and downs, and Commissioners and the greater library community have continually advocated for a budget sufficient to meet service goals. Today, the MBLC's state budget funds administrative functions and allocates state dollars for the Massachusetts Library System, the Library of the Commonwealth, Talking Book Library and Machine Lending, and the Center for the Book.

Its budget is augmented by federal funds to offer incentive grants, as well as additional state money to provide programs for technology and resource sharing and annual aid to improve public library services and facilities. In FY 2015, the MBLC's budget appropriation was $25.3 million.3

What else happened in 1939?

  • Germany's blitzkrieg invasion of Poland sparked the beginning of World War II.4
  • The World's Fair opened in New York City.5
  • The film version of Gone With the Wind was a box office smash hit.4
  • The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Since 1939, the Bruins have won the Stanley Cup four times, most recently in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks.6

1. [link].
2. Fiftieth Annual Report of the Board of Free Public Library Commissioners for the Year Ending November 30, 1939.
3. MBLC website. [link].
4. 1939 - Wikipedia entry [link].
5. [link].
6. [link].