Pennsylvania Library Association Kicks Off New Year with Launch of Statewide “Star Library” Program

PA Forward initiative connects residents with library programming; tells story of what libraries bring to local communities

MECHANICSBURG – The New Year brings a new statewide program for Pennsylvania’s libraries according to the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA).

The Star Library Program, publicly announced during the association’s fall conference, is now officially available to all libraries in the commonwealth.

“The Star Library Program is the next iteration of PA Forward,” said Pennsylvania Library Association Executive Director Christi Buker. “PA Forward frames our libraries stories, helping them to connect even more with their communities.

This new program will reinforce the value our libraries provide to communities and to our individual development. We encourage the libraries to go for the gold and our residents to continue accessing these beacons in our communities.”   

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.

In 2015, one of the PA Library Association’s Academy of Leadership Studies (or PALS) cohorts conceptualized the Star Library Program and the more the program took form, the more they realized the potential for a longer-term opportunity.

“PA Forward had been around a few years and we were always looking at more ways to help libraries and people connect with the initiative,” 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 libraries will be able to further strengthen state support as well as leverage local support for their branches.”

To determine whether the program would have any standing with the library community a pilot of the program 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 pilot, and all libraries reached star level status with a majority attaining gold star status within the pilot timeframe.

“For the participating libraries, the pilot program sparked a new interest in their library from their community patrons and created new partnerships that were beneficial to the library and its constituents,” Eichenlaub added.

“Library board members wanted to know more about how this amazing program was creating a buzz and demonstrating how their individual libraries were meeting community needs for programming.

“We couldn’t have imagined the pilot being as successful as it was. It was like a breath of fresh air igniting new energy into the libraries’ programming plans and even created enthusiasm amongst the library staffs. We can’t wait to see how the program is received across the state.”

The Star Library recognition offers support to libraries who participate and incorporate the literacies in their programming activities. They are then recognized for meeting benchmarks within the bronze, silver and gold star level categories within the program.

Libraries working toward their star status can submit their documentation by visiting www.paforwardstarlibraries.org.  Follow the prompts to create an account and review the submission instructions.

More information about PA Forward and the Star Library Program is also available at www.palibraries.org. Once there, click on the “Get Involved” tab and then click on “PA Forward.” Also feel free to contact Brandi Hunter-Davenport, PA Forward Project Manager, at 717-766-7663 or paforward@palibraries.org.

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