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Bureau of Library Development Updates – January 2023

Happy New Year library colleagues!

2022 was a year of significant change and planning for the Bureau of Library Development (BLD). If you were unable to attend the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) conference in October or recent Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) meetings, you may not be aware of the plans that will be guiding our work in the coming years. I encourage you to take a look at the Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL) Five-Year Plan LibGuide, which outlines our three primary goals – refine and improve statewide services and impact, empower libraries at the local level to develop sustainable and scalable practices in serving their communities, and connect with the statewide educational ecosystem in meaningful ways – spotlighting the role libraries play in every Pennsylvanian’s learning journey and elevating and celebrating the work and impact of librarians.

The LibGuide also includes our Long-Range Plan for Keystone Grants for Public Library Facilities as well as other supporting studies and reports that will inform our work including the recent Evolving District Services study. This report offers 12 recommendations regarding the future of district library services. I’m pleased to report that recommendation #5 was addressed in this year’s State budget, and many of the recommendations directly align with several of the project areas in our five-year plan while others will be used to inform upcoming regulation and policy updates.

Operationally, it was a very challenging year for BLD with the turnover and vacancy of more than half of our team, the addition of new federal programs, and the development and application of new procedures that significantly increased everyone’s workload. Our team of 10, half of whom are relatively new to their positions, have been doing the work of 17 (our full staffing complement) over the past year or so. And the entire BLD team stepped up to these challenges and accomplished a great deal with grace and persistence.

In 2023, we will continue to build our team and improve processes. In addition to new grant programs and opportunities, the following initiatives are currently in development:

  • Publicly accessible public library directory – Coming soon!
  • Inclusive statewide meetings and information sessions
  • Expanded training and guidance on grants, state aid, etc.
  • More responsive communication methods and resources

Additionally, we are working with the GAC, PaLA, and others to update library regulations and guidelines with a future-focused approach. You can learn more about this work at upcoming GAC meetings and in future BLD updates.

Stay tuned for more updates from BLD through the Compendium. If you don’t already subscribe, please do so to ensure you receive the most up-to-date information.

I am grateful for your patience and support as we move forward.

Thank you for all you do for Pennsylvanians.

Heather

Heather Sharpe, MLIS | Director, Bureau of Library Development
Office of Commonwealth Libraries | Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street | 11th Floor | Harrisburg PA  17126
Office: 717.783.0565 | Mobile: 717.903.1819 | www.statelibrary.pa.gov

The Bureau of Library Development (BLD) in the Office of Commonwealth Libraries supports libraries and library services for Pennsylvanians through the administration of state and federally funded programs and grant opportunities including LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act), Library Access, LAMP (Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians), the Public Library Subsidy, and Keystone Grants for Public Library Facilities. BLD also provides advisory services, professional development, and continuing education for library staff and volunteer leadership at public, school, academic, and special libraries.