School E-Content (ARPA)

In 2021, Massachusetts students and school staff borrowed nearly 1 million eBooks and audiobooks through the school eBook and audiobook program called Commonwealth eBook Collection (CEC). The CEC program ranks #1 in the Northeast, ranks #3 in school collections nationally, and #3 worldwide.  ARPA funding totaling $400,000 was used to supplement curriculum titles, requests, and summer reading needs. Usage of the collection has increased more than 50% since the beginning of the pandemic.

This marks the second time during the pandemic the MBLC has used federal funds to support school eContent.

Dashboard of Usage (link opens in new tab)

Summer reading (LSTA)

In summer 2021, more than 212,000 people participated in statewide summer reading programs proven to help kids maintain academic skills. In fact, Massachusetts kids read more than 5 million minutes (link opens in new tab) in the Baker and Blades statewide reading challenge. These programs help close the literacy gap, a critical predictor of academic success.

Many librarians used LSTA & CARES Act funded software programs (link opens in new tab) for remote learning and to register for summer reading programs, track progress, earn badges, write book reviews and stay connected during the summer months as well as year round.

Librarians trained in Mental Health First Aid (ARPA)

More than one in three (35%) Massachusetts adults ages 19 and over reported needing behavioral health care for themselves or a close relative over the past 12 months according to a recent report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. “COVID has caused stress and anxiety for so many people and librarians are seeing the mental toll on their communities first-hand,” said Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grants Specialist at the MBLC. Mental Health First Aid for Adults gives library staff the tools to know how to interact in a compassionate way. The MBLC also used federal funds to support teen mental health.

Databases (LSTA)

The statewide database program provides critical access to research databases that no community or school system could afford to purchase on its own. As school districts have returned to in person learning, databases remain vital to access reliable information and for teaching and learning. In just 3 months (Oct 2021, Nov 2021, Dec 2021) people accessed more than 2.2 million full text articles, a 46% increase over the same time period from the previous year.

Access databases (link opens in new tab)


For people who are blind or have a disability (ARPA)

The MBLC and Perkins Access (a division of Perkins School for the Blind) are collaborating on a project to support Massachusetts libraries to create digital materials of all types that are accessible to users with disabilities. 

For the communities that need it most (ARPA)

Physical challenges, lack of childcare, limited transportation, and language are just some of the challenges that prevent people from fully accessing library services. Libraries are using federal funds for outreach vans, translation services, childcare, transportation assistance, and to ensure accessibility both digitally and physically. The twenty communities hardest hit by COVID-19 received special grants from the MBLC.

Learn more (link opens in new tab)


Hotspot lending program (ARPA)

The MBLC has dispersed 3,000 hotspots to more than 200 public libraries, narrowing the digital divide and increasing access to job information, telehealth, e-government, and schoolwork. The MBLC’s hotspot map (link opens in new tab) helps users find a library near them where they can borrow one.

Learn more (link opens in new tab)

Library eBooks and Audiobooks (LEA) (LSTA)

LEA allows Massachusetts library users to access eBooks, audiobooks, and more from 345 participating libraries from across the Commonwealth. This statewide system shares eContent in a similar way to physical materials, opening up access that was previously unavailable for eBooks and audiobooks. eContent was also supported with an additional $500,000 in LSTA funding.

Learn more (link opens in new tab) Access LEA (link opens in new tab)

*in July and August of 2021

Expanding eContent collections (ARPA)

As the Library for the Commonwealth (LFC), the Boston Public Library (BPL) serves all Massachusetts residents. In fact, there are more than 132,000 active BPL e-cards are being used throughout the Commonwealth. The MBLC and BPL worked together to use $200,000 in ARPA funds to make more statewide eContent available and reduce wait times for in-demand titles and topics. This is the second time (link opens in new tab) the MBLC has used federal funds to help meet the growing demand for eContent through LFC during the pandemic. (LSTA)

Capitalizing on the fact that more than 80% of people coming to the site are new users, the MBLC is redesigning the site to feature services that are appeal to this population like how to get a library card and how to access eBooks and audiobooks, streaming media, and databases. The new site will answer many questions new users may have about using library services and make it easier for users to find in-person local library offerings like citizenship and ELL classes as well as libraries that lend unique items through Libraries of Things. The site will also be available in languages other than English, so people coming to the site will be able to choose the language with which they are most comfortable.

Visit the website (link opens in new tab)

The Commonwealth Catalog/ComCat (LSTA)

The Commonwealth Catalog/ComCat gives residents access to millions of items that their own library network doesn’t have. Residents simply request items through ComCat and they’re delivered to right to the residents’ local library for pick-up, usually within a few days. This helps local libraries save money because they don’t have to purchase every item a resident needs. While ComCat paused during the pandemic, usage is on track to climb back up to pre-pandemic levels of more than 100,000 items.

Visit the website (link opens in new tab)