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The PA Forward Initiative

March 1, 2018

By now, you have heard us talk a lot about the Pennsylvania Library Association’s PA Forward initiative as it relates to individual literacies. Here, we will give you the bigger picture of what this initiative means for our Bookmobile, for Pennsylvania libraries, and for you – our community.

In an effort to strengthen all of Pennsylvania’s communities, the Pennsylvania Library Association created the PA Forward initiative, which at its core, recognizes five literacies that they find to be the most important for a thriving community: Basic Literacy, Civic & Social Literacy, Information Literacy, Financial Literacy, and Health Literacy.

For libraries, the initiative is a program with 7 steps to bring each library up to the highest standard of supporting these five literacies in their communities through services and programs. The first step is to reach Bronze star status, which the Bookmobile received in August 2017. Bronze Star means that our library recognizes the PA Forward program, but did not specialize in each literacy.

The next five steps are divided by each literacy. Libraries must earn Silver Stars in all of the five recognized literacies. As of today, the Bookmobile has achieved Silver Stars in Basic Literacy, Civic & Social Literacy, and Health Literacy.

Once libraries achieve all five Silver Stars, they may start to work towards the Gold Star status. In order to receive Gold Star, the library must do additional tasks to further educate and spread awareness to the community about the PA Forward initiative and its literacies.

So how does all of this affect you – our community?

The PA Forward programs provide an easy way for community members to understand what they are getting from their library. Programs can be clearly defined as serving one or more literacies. For example, the summer reading club is a Basic Literacy program. National Night Out events, which the Bookmobile participates in during the summer across Lackawanna County, is an example of Basic Literacy and Civic & Social Literacy.

By having all Pennsylvania libraries participating in this initiative, it means that you will find the same literacy labeling on programs no matter which library you step into.  In this way, all libraries, private, public, school, and academic will be accessible to each person.

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