Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development
The mission of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development (GAC) is to formulate plans, recommend policy, and advocate for strong library services and initiatives that enable all Pennsylvanians to be inspired and productive lifelong learners. The Council works closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for Libraries. The Secretary of Education is an ex officio member of the Council.
The GAC is comprised of twelve members appointed by the Governor to represent the interests of the library community and library users. It is an innovative group that leverages their extensive knowledge and understanding of library services, patrons, personnel, policy, and Pennsylvania politics to design and effectively advocate for solutions that serve their constituents.
The members of Council are selected from three categories. Six are professional librarians, three are trustees of local libraries, and three are lay library users. The current members of Council are:
- Mary Garm, Chair; Scranton (Professional Librarian)
- David Belanger, Vice Chair; Ardmore (Professional Librarian)
- Marsha Everton, Lemoyne (Lay User)
- Robert Gallivan, Erie (Lay User)
- Louis LaBar, Honesdale (Trustee)
- Robert Lambert, York (Professional Librarian)
- Allison Mackley, Hershey (Professional Librarian)
- Sharon McRae, Glenshaw (Professional Librarian)
- Olga Negron, Bethlehem (Trustee)
- Larry Nesbit, D. Ed., Mansfield (Lay User)
- Patrick Oates, Ph. D., Plymouth Meeting (Trustee)
- Barbara Zaborowski, Ph. D., Johnstown (Professional Librarian)
You will have an opportunity to learn more about each of the Council members in upcoming issues of The Compendium.
The GAC is established by law in The Library Code. The Code enumerates six specific powers and duties of the Council. They are:
- Advise the Governor and the Secretary of Education regarding the appointment of the State Librarian.
- Advise and make recommendations to the Governor and Secretary of Education and the State Librarian regarding the general policies and operations of the State Library and the State system of aid to libraries.
- Constitute a board of appeal regarding disputes arising from decisions of the State Librarian which affect the amount of a library’s State Aid or a library’s eligibility for State Aid.
- Aid in increasing public understanding of and formulating plans for furthering the purposes of public libraries.
- Promulgate rules and regulations for the approval of plans for the use of State funds and for the process and procedure to appeal funding and eligibility decisions.
- Approve or disapprove library district service areas which are recommended by the State Librarian.
The Council supports Governor Tom Wolf’s commitment to these three goals: Jobs That Pay, Schools That Teach, and Government That Works. Libraries have always had important roles to play in supporting and advancing those ideals. For example:
Jobs That Pay: Libraries are key drivers in a community’s success, committed to educating residents in basic literacies, to supporting the development of a skilled, trained workforce, and to connecting that workforce with employers.
Schools That Teach: Libraries are essential partners for schools that are teaching in a complex era that requires new skills. Libraries collaborate with Pennsylvania’s schools at every stage, helping students navigate all forms of media, and developing lifelong learning habits through and beyond the formal education years.
Government That Works: Pennsylvania’s libraries play a crucial role in our democratic process, a role that has become even more fundamental in today’s knowledge-based economy. Libraries help our citizens participate and contribute effectively to their communities and government and are a keystone of a civil society.
The Council has identified five ongoing priorities and recommendations that form the basis of our strategic discussions. They are:
- Restore and improve support for the Public Library Subsidy.
- Ensure that every public school student has access to a school library with a qualified school librarian.
- Restore and improve support for the POWER Library.
- Redesign and update The Library Code for the 21st Century
- Restore and improve support for and continue to invest in the State Library of Pennsylvania.
The GAC meets four times a year, and meetings are open to the public. Two of those meetings are held at the annual conference of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association in the spring and at the annual conference of the Pennsylvania Library Association in the fall. The next meeting of the Council will take place on October 14, 2018 at the Meeting & Open Forum of the Pennsylvania Library Association Conference, to be held at the Hilton Harrisburg.
More information about the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development, including meeting agendas and minutes, can be found on the State Library’s website (www.statelibrary.pa.gov) under “Laws and Regulations.”
Mary Garm, Chair