PA Forward: Civic and Social Literacy Summit | Compendium
Sarah Applegate

Sarah Applegate, currently reading: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

by Sarah Applegate

PA Forward Civic and Social Literacy Summit
March 8, 2016
at the Dickinson School of Law

I’m going to be honest here and say that when I was first asked about attending this workshop my immediate reaction was no.  I hear terms like “civic” and I’m immediately thrown back into 8th grade and no, thank you.  I was grossly mistaken, however.  So much so that I was upset at having only been able to make the second half of the day (missed the morning portion for programs at my library).  Not only was the weather beautiful this past Tuesday, making me glad that I was able to be outside in the afternoon, but the afternoon sessions that I attended were very interesting and it was nice to see a few familiar faces from around the state.  It’s always nice to get out and see other librarians with whom you can commiserate anew!

I was able to make it to two sessions and the closing program.  The two I attended were “Intergenerational Spaces and Places” and “Understanding and Ending Domestic Violence.”   Matthew Kaplan, a professor at PSU, was engaging, enthusiastic and entertaining.   He had great examples of the different ways to attract patrons of all ages and we were able to include some of our own ideas leading to some great inspiration for me.  Intergenerational relationships strengthen communities and families while contributing to culture and healthy human development.  He described how important it is to create opportunities for informal interactions.  For example, having transitional spaces in your library leaves room for spontaneity. Kaplan gave several examples of ways to bridge the intergenerational gap such as a “memory chest” where elder residents would put items of personal significance to them into a chest and when little ones would open the drawers to see what was inside the elder could describe why their item was important to them.  Other ideas included a “stump your relative” game with history or pictures that one generation would know but the other wouldn’t and the two could learn from each other.  More information can be found at // Forward Logo of Five Literacies

“Understanding and Ending Domestic Violence” was extremely informative, albeit depressing.  Some of the statistics that Sierra McCulloch, the speaker and representative from Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties, gave were hard to stomach but I feel that more people should know about these things.  After introducing herself and her work, McCulloch went on to help us better understand domestic violence by encouraging us to remember that there is no “face” to domestic violence; it happens to people of all ages and walks of life.  We learned about digital abuse and stalking in relation to teenage abuse as well as college-age violence.  I think the most important thing I took away from this session was to remember to be a nonjudgemental resource and that the question isn’t “Why doesn’t she/he leave” but rather, “Why do they abuse?”.  More information can be found at or or

Both of the sessions ran a little over time which I personally did not mind but did cause me to miss the first few minutes of “Program in a Box”, the closing session for the day.  I did catch some great ideas from the first librarian (whose name I did not catch) and Kathy Silks gave us an update on the PALS group’s awesome upcoming “Program in a Box” manual that will be available to all PA libraries and will have a variety of programs on the five literacies.  It sounds fantastic and I’m excited to get my hands on some of the great ideas they compiled.

I’d also like to say a hearty THANK YOU to Melissa Foltz and the wonderful people at Dickinson School of Law because not only was the location fantastic with plenty of parking (I was worried about this since I came in late) but the refreshments were ample and delicious.  So a round of applause goes to a fellow PALS member!  😀