Bureau of Library Development Updates – January 2024 | STAGING Compendium

Happy New Year library colleagues!

In last year’s January BLD Update I outlined some of the initiatives in development for 2023. Below are updates on those items and more.

Process improvement
Many of us in BLD came to our positions from the public library field and are acutely aware of the legacy issues that have plagued us for so long. It is our intention to make processes simpler and more transparent, and to ease the burden of paperwork and reporting by streamlining and automating what we can while ensuring we adhere to state and federal laws. As you know, it takes time to fix entrenched problems and the constraints inherent to bureaucracy make it even more challenging. However, the BLD team stepped up and began chipping away at these issues with resilience and dedication.  Some of the work this year includes:

  • New comprehensive State Aid Library Subsidy Applications (SALSA), Waiver Applications, and Plans for the Use of State Aid – As part of these new processes, the BLD team reviewed all 468 SALSAs and plans as well as 183 waiver applications.
  • The Annual Report process was updated, and all 468 reports were internally reviewed for accuracy and completeness for both the IMLS Public Libraries Survey and state requirements.
  • The Public Library Director Certification Extension Form was updated and can be found on the certification page of the State Aid Resources for Pennsylvania Public Libraries LibGuide.
  • The Statewide Library Resource Center annual report was updated as part of a renewed effort to analyze and coordinate library services as the statewide level.

New grant programs
A new round of 2023-24 Statewide Library Service Grants were awarded in 2023 with a second round opening early this year. And local library grants for youth services collections and professional development are coming in 2024 and more in 2025!

Publicly accessible public library directory
Now live! If you haven’t already, please use this form to submit changes to your library’s information.

Inclusive statewide meetings and information sessions
Coming this Fall! More information will be shared soon.

Responsive communication and expanded training and guidance on grants, state aid, etc.

    • 50+ Open office hours were held on the new state aid processes. We plan to offer more open office hours on various topics in the coming year.

Library regulations and guidelines
Beginning in January last year, BLD formed an internal work group to review all sections of the statute (24 Pa. C.S. Chapter 93) and make recommendations for new regulations. The group also reviewed the current regulations, previous studies and reports on regulations, PaLA Forum feedback, and other states’ library laws to ensure relevant information was considered. A draft of new regulations are currently under review by the department’s policy and legal offices and have been shared with the statute and regulations committee, which includes representation from the library field, the Pennsylvania Library Association, and the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC). We hope to have a draft available for the full library field to review in the coming weeks.

New GAC Guidelines for Libraries Seeking to Expand or Reduce Service Areas were written and approved and can be found in the guidelines section of the State Library website. The committee is currently working in guidelines for library closures.

BLD reorganization and rebuilding
I also reported that BLD experienced the turnover and vacancy of more than half of our team. Most of the 10 of us at the time were relatively new to our positions and doing the work of 17 (our full staffing complement). As folks in the library field, I’m sure you understand the impact that vacancies and turnover have on continuity and operations, not to mention the ability to address longstanding issues and concerns. I’m happy to report we filled five vacancies in 2023 with Julie, GJ, Abbey, and Lisette joining our team and Hadiyah being promoted! Two advisor positions and an administrative assistant will be filled soon, leaving only one vacant position. It has taken more than two full years to build back, but we are nearly there!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions. I am grateful for your continued patience and support as we move forward, and as always, thank you for all you do for Pennsylvanians.


Heather Sharpe, MLIS | Director, Bureau of Library Development
Office of Commonwealth Libraries | Pennsylvania Department of Education
607 South Drive | Room 230 | Harrisburg PA  17120
Office: 717.783.0565 | Mobile: 717.903.1819 | www.statelibrary.pa.gov

Quarterly BLD Digest

October 25, 2023 Sign Up Now for Professional Development Workshops

November 1, 2023 The Plans for State Aid for Public Libraries and Federated Systems Report is Now Open
November 13, 2023 Opportunity Announcement – Play and Grow Library Project
November 22, 2023 Apply Now to Participate in Building Equity-Based Summers (BEBS)
November 30, 2023 Access Update for the Annual Report – PA Public Library Data Survey collection on LibPAS

December 11, 2023 Results of Survey Concerning Possible Changes to the National Public Libraries Survey (PLS) Annual Report
December 21, 2023 Library Funding 2023-24 and Enacted Language
December 28, 2023 Bureau of Library Development – Staff Update

The Bureau of Library Development (BLD) in the Office of Commonwealth Libraries supports libraries and library services for Pennsylvanians through the administration of state and federally funded programs and grant opportunities including LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act), Library AccessLAMP (Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians), the Public Library Subsidy, and Keystone Grants for Public Library Facilities. BLD also provides advisory services, professional development, and continuing education for library staff and volunteer leadership at public, school, academic, and special libraries.

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