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Draft Statewide Library Card Guidelines: Your Comments Needed

Over the past two years, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development (GAC) has been working with library leaders across the state to review and update its Guidelines for the Statewide Library Card program.  Sometimes called the Access Pennsylvania statewide library card program, this service was founded in the late 1980’s and current guidelines were adopted in 1999.  In addition to modernizing the guidelines, the GAC hope to achieve language that is more concise and offers greater clarity for librarians and library users alike.

Now, a draft set of guidelines has been compiled, and before they are considered for adoption by the GAC, the Office of Commonwealth Libraries needs your comments.

How to Comment

To comment, there are two documents that you should review:

  1. Draft Guidelines for Statewide Library Card System (November 6, 2018)
  2. Guidelines for Statewide Library Card System (PDF)

Comments should be made by November 30, 2018 via SurveyMonkey at:

Review Process to Date

Under the leadership of GAC vice chair David Belanger, a committee was formed (Mary Garm, Louis LaBar, Allison Mackley, and Larry Nesbit).  It developed a process that included significant input from librarians across the state.  Several focus groups were held, guidelines were drafted (and re-drafted many times), comments were sought from system administrators, district library center administrators, and district consultants at their regular meetings, and it was distributed at the Pennsylvania Library Association conference as part of the GAC’s public meeting and open forum session. Comments from library staff, board members, and community members will be considered before any document is finalized for review and adoption by the GAC.

Statewide Library Card System History

The Statewide Library Card System was developed under the banner of Access Pennsylvania, an umbrella program of statewide library services.   Access Pennsylvania was conceived in 1984 as part of the State Library of Pennsylvania’s “Comprehensive Plan for Libraries in Pennsylvania: Recommendations for Improved Access to Library Resources.”  With its overarching goal of expanding access to library resources, the plan identified three key objectives:

  1. Developing a statewide library card system that would allow all Pennsylvanians to use any publicly-supported library;
  2. Expanding the use of technology to more effectively share library and information resources; and
  3. Improving the local financial support of public libraries and providing state assistance for the support of libraries in low income communities.

To accomplish these objectives, work began in 1985 to develop a statewide union catalog on CD-ROM. During its first year, the CD-ROM catalog included 121 libraries (64 public libraries, 28 instructional media services, 25 school libraries, and four academic libraries.) This CD-ROM catalog was greatly expanded, updated regularly, and later moved to the Internet. It served as the foundation for POWER Library services.

In 1985-1986, work began to develop the Statewide Library Card System.  The program’s founding operational principle was reciprocity.  Its goal was to increase the availability of library materials for all Pennsylvanians. Library leaders drafted guidelines for it and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries implemented a statewide pilot project using 150 public libraries of varying types and sizes.  The pilot project called for each state-aided local library to agree to honor library cards from other state-aided local libraries with the understanding that borrowing privileges would be extended to its own users. The pilot project was highly successful, and it was phased-in over the next several years in all state-aided libraries. Now, as required by the PA Public Library Code, all state-aided public libraries must participate in the program (Title 24 PA. C.S.A. § 9334 (c)(1)).

Comment Deadline

Thank you for helping us refine and update this important statewide service.  Please tell us what you think by November 30 at:


Glenn R. Miller | Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Libraries
Pennsylvania Department of Education | Office of Commonwealth Libraries
Room 200 Forum Building
607 South Drive | Harrisburg, PA  17120-0600
Phone:  717-783-2646  |  @PaDeptofEd|  | VIDEO: #PAHasYourBack

The mission of the Department of Education is to ensure that every learner has access to a world-class education system that academically prepares children and adults to succeed as productive citizens. Further, the Department seeks to establish a culture that is committed to improving opportunities throughout the commonwealth by ensuring that technical support, resources, and optimal learning environments are available for all students, whether children or adults.

This communication is issued on the Deputy Secretary’s behalf by Jonelle Darr (; 717-783-5725

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