Pennsylvania Library Association Unveils New Statewide Initiative

PA Author and
PA Forward Honorary
Advisory Board Chair
Lisa Scottoline
(Mechanicsburg, PA) - During an event at the Capitol, The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) unveiled a new statewide initiative called PA Forward | Pennsylvania Libraries. “Today, we change the way we talk about libraries,” said Debbie Malone, PaLA president. “For the last three years, the rightest minds from Pennsylvania’s public, academic, and school libraries have been working together on this initiative. PA Forward will position libraries n a new and more compelling way to advocate for their future.”

Throughout the state, there is tangible evidence that libraries have a leadership role in the community and impact peoples’ lives. And 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 everyone.

“To keep Pennsylvania thriving, there needs to be an educated public that has access to information,” said Malone. “Libraries are the hub that connects the public to that information and PA Forward will help reinforce and strengthen those connections in various ways.”

For academic libraries, PA Forward will strengthen the public’s perception that academic institutions provide great benefits by sharing resources and services with the community at large. For school libraries, PA Forward will reinforce what experience has shown: Students in schools with strong libraries learn more, get better grades, and achieve higher test scores than students who attend schools without libraries. For public libraries, PA Forward will strengthen their position as essential to a growing customer base of private and municipal organizations and individuals, and as high-quality early learning providers that ultimately save taxpayer dollars otherwise needed for remedial programs.

PA Forward will redefine the library’s role in the Commonwealth within the context of five essential literacies that all Pennsylvanians need in order to attain success as students, parents, employees, consumers, and citizens. Through Basic Literacy, libraries can help Pennsylvania achieve one of the highest literacy rates in the country, thereby contributing to a trained and skilled workforce, and a growing economy, tax base, and population. In Information Literacy, Pennsylvanians can improve their education, enhance their job skills, develop their personal lives, and fully participate in a digital society by learning how to use online resources and current technology. Civic and Social Literacy gives citizens the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives and participate and contribute effectively to their community, government, and society. Health Literacy is helping citizens manage their own and their family’s well-being, and empowering them to be effective partners with their healthcare providers so they can live longer, more productive lives. And Financial Literacy helps citizens become informed consumers and guides individuals, small businesses, and other organizations to contribute to the economic vitality of their community through innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

“To help promote the importance of PA Forward, we have an impressive group of 18 ‘founding’ partners that are made up of corporations, state agencies, and statewide associations. But they all have something in common – their public commitment to libraries and literacy,” said Glenn Miller, executive director for PaLA. “They will partner with our 600+ libraries to reach more than six million Pennsylvanians with
literacy messages and resources.”

Representing businesses, non-profits, and corporations are Comcast, Giant Food Stores, Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, State YMCA of Pennsylvania, Inc., TechQuest PA, and United Way of Pennsylvania. Representing the state agencies are the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, and Pennsylvania Department of State. The statewide association partners are the American Academy of Pediatrics (Pennsylvania Chapter), Association of Pennsylvania Public Library Systems (APPLS), Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Pennsylvania School Librarians Association.

Also introduced during the announcement was the PA Forward Advisory Board. This diverse group of individuals will provide strategic guidance, resource connections, and advocacy to support PA Forward’s mission to strengthen libraries and build Pennsylvania’s literacy levels. The board members are: Kara Dolphin Beem, Esq., senior associate at Greenlee Partners; Michael D. Colgan, CAE, CEO and executive director of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Lindsay Barrett George, children’s book author and illustrator; Mary Garm, Administrator for the Lackawanna County Library System; Timothy Genetti, president of PQ Express; Frank Lynch, senior director of government and community affairs for Comcast; Dr. Barbara K. Mistick, president of Wilson College; Tony Ross, president and CEO of the United Way of Pennsylvania; William H. Schell, president of Martin Library Association; John J.“Ski” Sygielski, president of Harrisburg Area Community College; Alisha B. Wells, manager of Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; Michael A. Wishnow, senior vice president of communications and marketing for the PA Credit Union Association; Nancy D. Zionts, chief program officer of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh; and honorary board chair Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author.
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