Program works to increase institutional capacity for continued community engagement; Creates opportunities for access for residents
Mechanicsburg, PA – Highlighting Pennsylvania libraries and their roles in powering progress throughout the state, the PA Library Association announced the January 2017 statewide launch of the PA Forward Star Library Program during their 2016 annual state conference earlier this week.
“The Star Library Program is designed to showcase libraries, to create opportunities to make connections with local communities and stakeholders, and to demonstrate how libraries are truly integral to the progress and future of Pennsylvania and our residents,” said Christi Buker, Pennsylvania Library Association Executive Director. “PA Forward provides the framework that gives a collective voice to libraries throughout the state. This new program will take PA Forward to the next level and in turn, showcase and reinforce the value our libraries provide to communities and to our individual development.”
The Star Library program was developed by one of the Association’s 2015 PALS (PA Library Association’s Academy of Leadership Studies) groups as their class project. The more the group conceptualized the project, the more they realized the program had potential for a long-term impact. The team developed three tier levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold – with various actions to achieve within each tier under the PA Forward umbrella.
“In developing this recognition, we realized libraries are already offering programming that aligns with PA Forward and they may not realize it,” said Joann Eichenlaub, Assistant Director of the Madigan Library at the Pennsylvania College of Technology and member of the 2015 PALS class. “By adding the Star Library tag, we hope to help them connect with PA Forward even more, aiding them in further strengthening state support and leveraging local support for their programs and services.”
To determine whether or not the program would have any standing within the library community a pilot launched in the North Central Library District in the spring of 2016. Of the 40 libraries in the district, 19 agreed to participate in the trial.
“We couldn’t have imagined the pilot would be as successful as it was,” said June Houghtaling, North Central Library District Consultant. “Many of those pilot libraries didn’t want the program to end and wanted to keep working toward even more star levels. Then news of the pilot spread, and more libraries wanted to be involved. We can’t wait to get this program on board statewide, engaging even more libraries in the PA Forward movement.”
The North Central Library District includes Bradford, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties.
PA Forward works through five key literacies – Basic, Information, Civic & Social, Health and Financial – to assist all residents in enhancing their overall quality of life. The Star Library recognition offers support to libraries who participate and incorporate the literacies in their libraries’ programming activities. Participating libraries are encouraged to celebrate their success in using PA Forward to create new partnerships, develop broader community support, and ultimately establish influence and credibility as a unified, collective, powerful voice for the benefit of all libraries.
As part of the program, logos on the libraries’ event flyers and marketing materials identified which specific literacies the libraries’ events supported. PA Forward encourages all Pennsylvania libraries to use cohesive branding and outreach materials to frame communications to key stakeholders – elected officials, community leaders, donors, patrons, board, Friends and employees. Libraries use PA Forward’s five literacies as a guiding framework for setting service priorities, identifying potential community and funding partners, structuring strategic plans, and building well-rounded, multi-skilled boards.
“The PA Forward Star Library Program is about giving recognition to libraries and in turn demonstrates measurable value and benefits communities realize because of the efforts of their local libraries,” added Buker.
The participating pilot libraries have until the end of the calendar year to complete their Star Level status. Other libraries interested in participating in the Star Library Program can begin work toward their Star Level status in November but will not be able to submit materials for consideration until January 2017 when the program officially launches statewide. More information about the program can be found by visiting www.palibraries.org. Under “Get Involved”, click on “Brand with PA Forward.”
About the Pennsylvania Library Association
Founded in 1901, the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) is the state’s oldest and most diverse professional library organization serving libraries, library employees, library trustees, and Friends of the Library groups. For more information, visit www.palibraries.org, facebook.com/PALibraries or @PALibraries on Twitter.
About PA Forward
The Pennsylvania Library Association’s PA Forward | Pennsylvania Libraries initiative was conceived to give voice to what the library community already knows, and what other states throughout the nation recognize – with the right support, libraries are ideally positioned to become the community centers of information, technology and learning that will fuel educational and economic opportunity for all of our citizens. For more information, visit www.PAForward.org, facebook.com/paforward or @PAForward5 on Twitter.
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“This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.”
Project Manager, PA Forward