ACLA Libraries are Supported by the PA General Assembly

At the Allegheny County Library Association, we envision a healthy, engaged, and thriving community supported by libraries that welcome, inspire, educate, and provide equal opportunities to all residents of Allegheny County. The legislative grants we have received over the years demonstrate this dedication to improving library service to our communities and we could not be prouder of the work our libraries have done with your strong support and willingness to include ACLA in your line items year after year.  

With each grant, ACLA and its member libraries have built upon the successes of the previous years by further enriching our communities and finding new ways to provide the services our communities need to thrive. Whether it is working together to provide workforce development opportunities for all, or making sure our library spaces are accessible and welcoming to all, ACLA libraries are ready to serve every citizen of Allegheny County to help make sure that the education, entertainment, and enrichment needs of all are met.  

Below, you will read about the important projects that were funded by legislative grants over the years. We could not do what we do without the vision and understanding of our PA legislators. ACLA thanks you for your support and dedication to helping us attain our vision for a healthy, engaged and thriving Allegheny County. 

Amy Anderson, ACLA CEO

2022 – Celebrating Our Communities 

ACLA’s most recent legislative grant is titled “Celebrating Our Communities.” Within the scope of this grant, libraries are undertaking projects to improve services to underserved segments of their communities. Allegheny County libraries are committed to providing our patrons with the resources they need, in whatever way they need them. Libraries have collaborated with other professionals to conduct community assessments, including focus groups and surveys, and identify gaps in service and underserved parts of their communities.  Libraries will look at library service holistically, to ensure that the resources that we already have are made available to everyone, by reimagining library spaces to meet the needs identified in community assessments. ACLA is currently evaluating library projects for this grant, and projects will be implemented in late 2023.  

2021 – Accessibility 

A public library is the quintessential public space. While libraries strive to be accessible for all community members, the reality of constrained budgets and older facilities means that many libraries cannot ensure equitable access for residents with disabilities. ACLA’s 2021 legislative grant focused on increasing ADA accessibility at library buildings, thereby expanding access to library services and spaces to community members that are currently excluded or find access difficult. Projects for this grant included automatic doors, accessible restrooms, HVAC updates, accessible parking, flooring replacement, a wheelchair lift, safety lighting, and hearing loops. This grant included 20 library sites across the county. 

2020 – Workforce Development 

Lifelong learning is core to every library’s mission and is achieved by offering a diverse calendar of programming events, physical materials, online databases, technology, digital literacy training, downloadable books, audios, and videos in addition to individual assistance free to every resident.  ACLA’s 2020 legislative grant focused on fulfilling an ever-growing need for adults who benefit from a wide array of specialized workforce development programs. Our primary goal in this project is to increase workforce programming, materials, and support offered by ACLA libraries to the residents of Allegheny County. Projects in this grant include test prep materials for exams (such as the SAT, ACT, GMAT, Praxis, ASVAB, CDL and nursing exams), Chromebooks and hotspots for jobseekers to use at home, resources for small business owners, and library programming for digital literacy and technology skills.  These projects allowed ACLA libraries to better support their community members during this period of economic uncertainty. The technology and digital literacy support portions of the project ensure Allegheny County residents with limited digital skills are empowered to achieve their career goals. 

2019 – Civic Literacy 

The overall goal of ACLA’s 2019 “Libraries Promoting Civic Literacy” project was to promote communities where our citizens have the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives, participate and contribute effectively to their communities, and connect to others through discourse.  (This goal was adapted from the Pennsylvania Library Association’s Civic and Social Literacy platform: home/civicandsocialliteracy.aspx). The project had four elements: creating community profiles for each library, hosting community discussions about important civic issues, evaluating collections and programming to ensure they are inclusive, and developing “Civics 101” programming. These elements were implemented with the assistance of community partners including Public Source, the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, the League of Women Voters and local elected officials. As a result of this grant, libraries have a better understanding of their community’s demographics, needs and interests, and are better equipped to provide meaningful service to their patrons. The community profiles were so useful to the ten participating libraries that ACLA received additional funding through another source to create profiles for all 45 county libraries. Additionally, the programs and resources provided increased the civic engagement and knowledge of the community, allowing library users to be more informed participants in our democracy.  

2018 – Kindergarten Readiness 

Coordinating youth services is a key part of ACLA’s role in the county library system, and the 2018 “Kindergarten Readiness” grant focused on training youth services library staff. Staff members from 16 libraries participated in ACLA’s Kindergarten Readiness Program, which included training on child development, STEM and the arts, and early literacy. Participants gained a foundation for providing kindergarten-specific programming at their library and forming relationships with their local school districts. The program involved partnerships with organizations in Pittsburgh’s learning community including the Carnegie Science Center, Gateway to the Arts, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, United Way, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Since the completion of this project, ACLA has continued to invest in training youth services staff to ensure that children across the county have access to high-quality programming with a strong educational component. 

2017 – Workforce Development & STEM 

In 2017, ACLA’s legislative grant was two-pronged, focusing on both workforce development for adults and STEM for children. Both portions of the project involved training library staff members. The people who work in our libraries are their greatest strength. ACLA is committed to providing training to ensure that our library staff members are fully prepared to provide their communities with the highest quality of library service.  Workforce development training for library staff included workshops led by local experts, addressing topics such as resumes, interviews, and soft skills. Library staff underwent makerspace training through the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and toured three local makerspaces. Additionally, books and other materials on workforce development were purchased for all county libraries. The “Librarians as STEM Educators” project trained children’s librarians to effectively incorporate STEM concepts into their library programs. This grant funded the third and final year of the project, which included hosting sessions on STEM at the Pennsylvania Library Association conference, developing video training content for librarians across the state, and funding the purchase of STEM materials for library collections.