This is part of a series of Session Notes from grantees who have received Professional Development grants from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Each grantee will share their professional development experience and include tips and other resources from the workshop or class. Grantees had their choice of an article for the Compendium, a webinar or a podcast. This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Melissa Foltz

Melissa Foltz

By Melissa Foltz,
Director of the Manheim Community Library

Wow, has it already been almost three months since the PaLA Conference at the Kalahari Resort? The conference was a wonderful time for networking, learning, and professional development. Since my library budget is very slim, I am grateful to have the support of the LSTA funds to support this professional development opportunity. I received these funds to learn about strategic planning at the conference.

What is strategic planning? According to NOLO, “A strategic plan identifies your nonprofit’s goals for a certain time period (generally one to three years) and outlines how you will achieve those goals” ( As a new director, I am anxious to gather my Board of Trustees to update our Strategic Plan. Our yearly planning day is around the corner and I wanted to use the conference to gather as much information as I could about current and upcoming trends in Pennsylvania Public Libraries. While there was no specific session on strategic planning, I attended a range of presentations to gain ideas on how my library can remain relevant.

One of the presentations was A Resource for All Pennsylvania Libraries by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania administers grants to conduct research on rural conditions and maintain a database on rural conditions and needs. What does that mean for Pennsylvania Libraries? Center for Rural PA is a great resource for information about our communities and for finding statistics needed to apply for grant funding.

The presentation was given by Mary Kandray Gelenser, Grants Program Manager and Christine Caldara Piaos, Communications Manager. They covered what information is available on their website, research resources for wealth transfer in Pennsylvania, and information on the Opioid Epidemic in PA.

Center for Rural PA website data
Did you know?

  • 1 in 5 households don’t have internet access in PA urban counties
  • 48 of PA’s 67 counties are classified as rural
  • Lancaster General Hospital is the top employer in Lancaster County

This information and more can be found on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s website. It’s Pennsylvania’s most comprehensive database on rural trends and conditions. The research grants program “feeds” the database with information.

The Demographics tab can provide you with quick references to quick facts, county profiles, municipality profiles, school district profiles, population projections and data gram (brief analysis of topics and issues). The Publications tab can lead you to their newsletter (which you can subscribe to via email), Fact Sheets, Reports, Heroin Public Hearings, Wealth Transfer in PA, and links to their presentations (like the one I attended!). You really have to visit their website to see all they have to offer, see my links at the bottom to get started. The presenters briefly showed us data on employment, wage, internet connectivity, well drilling population and age cohorts.

Wealth Transfer in Pennsylvania – 2016 report
In studying Wealth Transfer in PA, the Center for Rural PA found that since their last study in 2008, PA communities have experienced economic changes that called for an update. The 2016 update found that PA counties have a wealth of $3.1 trillion. Over the next 10 years, $310 billion of the wealth will be transferred from one generation to the next. If 5% of this wealth would be used for community philanthropy, it would generate $774 million annually to meet community needs. This is critical knowledge for any non-profit entity.

Opioid Epidemic
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is taking a front seat to discussing and combating  this crisis in our communities. In the past two years, they have had 11 public hearings on the opioid epidemic. Their studies have found the need to recognize addiction as a disease and afford proper treatment, require continuing medical education for professionals licensed to prescribe in PA, expand pilot program of early intervention services, establish a uniform manner to report overdose deaths and expand the use of naloxone among local PA police departments. The presenters provided statistics on the Heroin/Opioid epidemic in PA. They suggested visiting the site for online training about treating an overdose.

This session was very informative and full of great resources to begin research on my community as part of my strategic planning. Hopefully over the next year I can implement what I’ve learned not only at this session but from all my sessions at the conference. I feel better prepared and informed to begin strategic planning for my library. Just looking through my notes again has made my never-ending to do list a bit longer but it’ll all get done…somehow. I hope everyone else who attended the conference is working on their lists as well. If you haven’t reflected on the conference, I encourage you to take a few minutes to do so.

Additional Resources
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania –

County Profiles –

Municipality Profiles –

Wealth Transfer in PA –

Heroin and Opioid Addiction Public Hearings –

Learn how to respond in an overdose