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ACLAThe Allegheny County Library Association coordinates a variety of workshops and forums for the system’s approximately 500 library staff and more than 400 library trustees. Ongoing professional development is essential to ensuring that county libraries are current with changes in the industry, advances in technology and best practices that keep library programs and services relevant to community needs. State regulations stipulate a minimum number of hours of continuing education (CE) that librarians must earn each year, so many workshops offer CE credits.

Professional development workshops for staff and boards are offered on topics such as:

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The Allegheny County Library Association develops mutually beneficial partnerships with other agencies and organizations in the county, region, state, and beyond in order to bring the most up-to-date information, training, and programming opportunities to the 70+ library locations that serve Allegheny County residents. Some partnerships are for one-time events or programs and others are ongoing.

Current partnerships include:

Education

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Health and Wellness

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Nonprofit Management

Community

Arts

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[pane title=”Youth Services”]

Children’s Choice Awards

The Allegheny County Library Association participates in the Children’s Choice Book Awards, a national program overseen by the Children’s Book Council.  Locally, ACLA collaborates with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to plan and hold the Children’s Choice Awards for students ages 9-12 in Allegheny County.  The Children’s Choice Awards program brings schools and public libraries together to introduce young people to quality children’s literature and encourage them to read the books closely so they can discuss them and answer questions. Students read a selection of 8-10 books, cast their vote in a county-wide election for the best book, and attend a culminating event in late spring. The final event includes a Battle of the Books when students answer questions about the books they’ve read.  The book that receives the most votes is announced with a celebration that includes meeting the author and other fun activities.

Allegheny County Library Association Youth Services organizes and provides professional learning opportunities aligned with national library trends; ensures best practices countywide; connects libraries and schools, as well as libraries and the region’s learning community. In addition, ACLA also coordinates the following countywide programs:

One Book, Every Young Child

The Allegheny County Library Association participates in this state-wide initiative to promote the importance of pre-school literacy by emphasizing the significance of reading early and often to children, as well as engaging them in conversation and other activities around books. During the month of April, libraries use the title chosen for the One Book, Every Young Child in preschool storytime, programming, and outreach to support the development of early literacy. In addition, the program provides tips for parents and other adults on reading aloud, telling stories, sharing and talking about books, and fun activities that support early literacy.

American Girl® Collection

The Allegheny County Library Association is starting a lending library of American Girl® historical dolls as a way to increase children’s interest in history and current events and support childhood literacy.  Each kit will include:

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[pane title=”Mobile Services”]

Mobile Library Services

ACLA Since 1952, bookmobile service has been provided in Allegheny County, an area of 745 square miles with a current population of 1.2 million. ACLA has been managing this mobile library service for more than a decade. Our experienced bookmobile staff includes the 4 full-time positions of Operations Manager, Assistant Operations Manager, Early Childhood Specialist, and Library Assistant plus 3 part-timers – one clerk and two drivers.

The program has three distinct routes: one focusing on Headstart and preschool sites, one customized for senior services, and a third route that provides community service via contract to parts of the county that do not otherwise have easily accessible library service. Combined, these three routes have more than 100 stops throughout the county and circulate more than 75,000 books and other materials annually.

Of the municipalities served by the preschool and senior routes, 50% of the preschool and 22% of the senior stops are in distressed communities. Of the individuals using the bookmobiles, only 13% make use of other library facilities in Allegheny County.

Please visit ACLA Mobile Library Services’ website for schedule information.

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Preschool Services

Each visit to a preschool facility consists of a 20-30 minute in classroom storytime and a visit to the bookmobile to select and check out materials.

Mobile Services’ Early Childhood Specialist is in close contact with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU), and purchases materials in the summer months that will coincide with the curriculum being used for the upcoming school year. The classroom visit is a carefully planned program consisting of an interactive, developmentally appropriate storytime using books, props, songs and fingerplays designed to support the curriculum. At the conclusion of the visit, the teachers are left with handouts for their use and copies to send home with the children to give to their parents. These handouts contain a list of the books that were read and the songs that were sung during the story time, as well as activity and craft ideas based on the stories, and literacy tips to be used at home. Teacher support is an important service element with a wide variety of materials on board to support and enhance the curriculum, theme bags providing books and manipulatives on a single topic, theme idea books and related child development materials.

The preschool bookmobile was designed with the young child in mind. The lower shelving units are forward facing and arranged in bins. Materials are displayed with the covers facing out allowing the children to select a book that catches their eye. The bins are also arranged in categories children love, such as trucks, dinosaurs, and Clifford.

Every child whose family returns a completed library card application is issued their own library card that can be used at any library in Allegheny County, as well as the bookmobile. We do this to encourage the parents to take their children to their local library to grow their love of reading

Senior Services

Senior Outreach Services are provided using a specially designed vehicle, equipped with rolling book carts, to allow a wide variety of materials to be brought directly into the facilities. The ability to go inside eliminates any physical barriers related to boarding a bookmobile, and allows many more individuals access to all the library on wheels has to offer. A staff of two are ready to help patrons with the selection of materials and to help them with any special requests they may have for the next visit. Access to library materials across Allegheny County is offered to fill requests of popular items.

In addition to DVDs, music CDs, books and audio books, Activities Directors at assisted living facilities are able to take advantage of a specialized collection of resources designed to help keep older adults’ minds and bodies active through the use of word games, puzzles and crafts.

Community Services

Mobile Services contracts with municipalities and school districts without libraries in their community, public libraries with large service areas that wish to reach their patrons more efficiently and non-profits who wish to have service in targeted areas.

The Community Services bookmobile, used exclusively on this route, is stocked with a wide variety of materials for children and adults. Much as with a traditional bricks and mortar library setting, staff know their patrons by name and chat about their families as well as reading interests. Patrons include mothers with young children as well as teens, retirees and working fathers. Any materials requested in person, over the phone or online are ready when the patrons arrive, and are added to the items selected from the vehicle’s expansive collection for check out. Nearly half of Mobile Services’ total annual circulation is done by the community services bookmobile.

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[pane title=”Fundraising”]

ACLA The Allegheny County Library Association secures public and private funding for county-wide library operations as well as specific programs and services. The primary funder is the Allegheny Regional Asset District which annually has committed one third of its allocations for library service since its inception in 1995. State funding is secured through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.  Additional government funds are secured through Allegheny County.

Funds are also secured from private foundations and corporations at the local, state and national level. In some cases, every library participates in a grant-funded project, and in other instances multiple libraries choose to participate. Some recently funded programs and projects include the Librarians as STEM Educators project (professional development for a cohort of youth services staff), Mobile Services (for older adults and preschoolers), and One Book, One Community (an annual program operated in collaboration with a wide range of partnering organizations).

Current private funders include:

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[pane title=”Consulting Services”]

ACLA

Each year, staff of the Allegheny County Library Association provides customized consulting services to local library boards, municipal officials, library directors and other staff, and Friends organizations. These services address a wide variety of issues including board governance, accounting practices, advocacy, fundraising, compliance with State Code and Regulations, leadership transitions, municipal funding, human resource policies and practice, and general library operations. Staff visits local libraries throughout the year to gain a better understanding of the specific achievements and challenges of each individual library and community and, as needed, provides information, resource referrals, policy and document templates, and guidance. Staff provides consulting services via email, phone, and in-person. Examples of consulting include:

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