The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (est.1890) is a state agency that supports libraries in Massachusetts. The governor appoints each commissioner. The current board consists of librarians, academics and library trustees: Carol B. Caro, Mary Ann Cluggish, George T. Comeau, Mary Kronholm, Frank Murphy, Roland Ochsenbein, Janine Resnik, Gregory J. Shesko, and Alice M. Welch.[1]


Caleb Benjamin Tillinghast, commissioner
Henry S. Nourse, commissioner

The agency originated as the Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission "to encourage the establishment of libraries by direct aid and to give advice relating to the maintenance and administration of libraries" in Massachusetts.[2][3] It was the first of its kind in the United States.[4] In 1890, the board consisted of Caleb Benjamin Tillinghast, Samuel Swett Green, Henry Stedman Nourse,[5] Elizabeth Putnam Sohier,[6] and Anna E. Ticknor. Elizabeth Putnam Sohier and Anna Eliot Ticknor became the first women appointed to a United States state library agency when they were appointed to the agency in 1890. Other early members of the commission included Mabel Simpkins Agassiz, Anna Sears Amory, Deloraine P. Corey.[7]

In its first years of existence, the board accomplished significant fulfillment of its mission. In 1890 "105 towns in the Commonwealth were without a free public library. Twenty years later, in 1910, every city and town, with one exception, had a library of its own."[8]

The name of the agency changed in 1952 from the "Massachusetts Board of Free Public Library Commissioners" to the "Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners."[9] As of the 1990s it was "responsible for library development and resource sharing."[10] As of 2010, "the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board also strives to provide every resident of the Commonwealth with full and equal access to library information resources regardless of geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability, or cultural background." It operates from offices in Boston's North End.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. "About MBLC: Commissioners". Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  2. ^ Sanborn. League of Library Commissions Handbook. Chicago: American Library Association Publishing Board, 1915. Google books
  3. ^ An act to promote the establishment and efficiency of free public libraries. Massachusetts, Acts of 1890, Chapter 347.
  4. ^ Paula Watson. "Valleys without sunsets: women's clubs and traveling libraries." In: Robert S. Freeman, David M. Hovde, eds. Libraries to the people: histories of outreach. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2003
  5. ^ Samuel S. Shaw. Memoir of Henry S. Nourse. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Second Series, Vol. 18 (1903 - 1904)
  6. ^ For more information on Sohier, see: Danton, ed. Pioneering Leaders in Librarianship: First Series. Chicago: American Library Association, 1953.
  7. ^ Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts. 1898, 1908
  8. ^ "Newbury, the exception, appropriates money toward the support of the Newburyport library and enjoys its rights and privileges." cf. Sanborn. League of Library Commissions Handbook. Chicago: American Library Association Publishing Board, 1915.
  9. ^ "By amendments to Massachusetts library legislation provided under Chapter 585 of the Acts and Resolves of 1952," cf. Library Journal 77, 1952
  10. ^ Ethel Himmel. "State library agencies in the United States." Encyclopedia of library history. Taylor & Francis, 1994
  11. ^ MBLC website. Retrieved 2010-12-29

Further reading

Issued by the Commission

About the Commission