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Monday, August 17, 2009

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

"The Massachusetts regulations include every rule, regulation, standard or requirement... adopted by an agency to implement or interpret the law enforced or administered by it..."

So what does this mean for librarians and how can we make better use of the "regs"?

Say, for instance, that a patron came to your library and wanted to know what was required in order for him or her to teach adults basic education in Massachusetts. Most of us are tempted to go right to the Massachusetts general laws to find the answer. If we do that however, we are provided with a scant one and a half pages that give us a few general facts. First, Massachusetts has by law a system for providing certain adults basic education and literacy services. Second, the state will provide professional instructors and monitor service delivery. And lastly, the board of education will determine the methods of instruction and grant certification to teachers who possess the qualifications prescribed by the board (General laws 69:1H).

This information is useful but it does not answer the patrons question of what, specifically, does he or she need to teach adult education. For an answer to this question we must turn to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations. The Worcester Public Library subscribes to the print version of the Code and we have a separate subscription (published privately) to the index. This makes our task relatively simple and painless. However, for those of you who rely on the online version I will walk you through the process.

Access to the online index to the Code can be found at

  • We know that the board of education is the governing agency so we scroll down to the words Education, Department of 603 CMR.
  • When we click on the citation number 603 CMR we are given a list of sections. Since you don't know what you're looking for you must read the title of each section. At the bottom of the list is the section title Licensure of Adult Basic Education Teachers and Preparation Program Approval.

The patron now has 15 pages of definitions, standards and specific requirements and components for licensure in all fields of adult education and literacy.

One drawback to using the online version of the regs is that they are not the "official" version. The official version is only published in hard copy. The state is in the process of transitioning to an official online version but they haven't done so yet. To make sure that you have comprehensive and up-to-date information you can always call the Worcester Public Library and ask us to match the online to the print source.

In any event, the Code of Massachusetts Regulations contains a wealth of information (often overlooked) that could save you and your patron time and effort.

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CMRLS Regional Reference Center, Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Sq, Worcester MA 01608