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Guidelines for Statewide Library Card Program

Glenn R. Miller
Glenn Miller, Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Libraries

I am pleased to announce that the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development (GAC) approved a new set of Guidelines for the Statewide Library Card System.

Last updated in 1999, the new guidelines are more concise, offer greater clarity about the program for library staff (and the public), and bring it into the 21st century.

As required by the Pennsylvania Public Library Code, all public libraries that receive Public Library Subsidy funds must participate in the Statewide Library Card program (Title 24 PA. C.S.A. § 9334 (c)(1)).  So, it will be important for public library directors and public service managers to familiarize themselves with the updated guidelines as soon as possible.

What is the Statewide Library Card Program?

The Statewide Library Card Program’s purpose is to increase the availability of library materials for Pennsylvanians by allowing eligible residents to register for a free library card at any participating public library.

To be eligible to participate, Pennsylvania residents must live in a municipality that supports a state-aided public library for its residents (as outlined in the Pennsylvania Public Library Code).

To determine if someone is eligible to participate, library staff may check to see if the individual’s municipality-of-residence is included on the list of municipalities that do not support state-public library services (PDF).  If their municipality is listed, the individual is not eligible to participate in the program.  We will update this list annually.

Pennsylvania residents who are not eligible to participate may register for a free POWER Library Ecard to use state-funded POWER Library e-resources.  Or, they may investigate purchasing a library card from a nearby public or academic library.

What You Need to Do

To support implementation of the guidelines, we’ve created several resources that are listed on a Statewide Library Program webpage.  It includes:

  1. Guidelines for the Statewide Library Card System
  2. Changes to Statewide Library Card Guidelines – Summarizes the changes, explains the revision process, and provides historical background on the program;
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (For Libraries);
  4. Municipalities Without Public Library Services (PDF) – Lists Pennsylvania municipalities that do not support public library services. Residents of these municipalities are not eligible to participate in the Statewide Library Card Program; and
  5. Access PA Logo image (PDF).

Please review this information with your District Library Consultant as soon as possible to develop a plan to help your library staff understand and implement the updated guidelines.

Many Thanks Due to Guideline Revisers

To accomplish these improvements, the GAC charged its Policy Committee with their review and revision.  I want to thank the committee’s five members, each of whom spent a significant amount of time on this project.  The Policy Committee included working public and school librarians, a retired academic library director, and a public library trustee. They are:

  1. David L. Belanger, Chair – Director of Libraries, Township of Lower Merion (Ardmore);
  2. Allison Mackley – High School Librarian, Derry Township School District (Hershey);
  3. Larry L. Nesbit, PhD. – Retired Library Director, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania (Mansfield);
  4. Louis W. LaBar – Trustee, Wayne County Public Library (Honesdale); and
  5. Mary O. Garm – Administrator, Lackawanna County Library System (Scranton).

To ensure the best possible outcome, the committee conducted focus groups with a cross-section of Pennsylvania public libraries, solicited ideas from District Library Center administrators, district consultants, and library system administrators.  It also surveyed the library community.    Using this input, the committee drafted and reviewed countless versions and, in the end, produced a solid, practical proposal that the GAC approved.

More Information

For questions about the new guidelines, please contact your local District Library Consultant, or Heather Sharpe, Division Manager, Subsidies and Grants, Office of Commonwealth Libraries ( or 717.783.0565.)


Glenn R. Miller | Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Libraries
Pennsylvania Department of Education | Office of Commonwealth Libraries
333 Market St. | Harrisburg, PA  17101-2210
Phone: 717-783-2466 | | |

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

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