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State Aid Resources for Pennsylvania Public Libraries

State Aid Library Subsidy Application (SALSA)

State Aid Library Subsidy Application and Plan for the Use of State Aid Wrap-Up Report:

The purpose of this document is to provide context for common questions and errors that were found on the State Aid Library Subsidy Application (SALSA) and the Plans for State Aid. As a reminder, the waivers were a part of the SALSA application – they are not two separate items. The State Aid Library Subsidy Application is built on the requirements outlined in the Statute (24 Pa.C.S. Chapter 93) and Regulations (22 Pa. Code § 131) for libraries to qualify to receive State Aid. Select this link to download a pdf of this report. 

SALSA/Waiver:

Policies, Resolutions, and Agreements: All policies and agreements mentioned in the SALSA are necessary to be eligible for state aid. At this time municipal resolutions will not affect the library's eligibility for state aid. Your application should answer yes/no questions. If they are answered with a “No” response, a public external notation must be added.

  • Federated System Administrations should have policies in place for themselves if they are a public facing entity or have policies that system members can use.
  • System members may use their own policies or use the policies provided to them by their Federation.
  • All entities need a resolution of participation in the District Library Center (DLC). Cooperative Program which can be done through signing the District Negotiated Agreement or having a board resolution.
  • All entities need a differentiation of duties between the library/system board, administrator, and library staff. An agreement designed to define the scope of work of the board, administrator, and staff.
  • All entities need to report annually to contributing municipalities.
    • Publicly available reports that are not directly shared do not constitute reporting to municipalities.
    • Reporting includes but is not limited to attending a municipal meeting and sending out library information via email to the municipal leaders.
    • Reporting to municipalities regularly can build relationships and prepare municipalities for an ask for additional funds while showing the importance of the library to the local community.
      • Best practice is to report to all municipalities in your service area, not just the municipalities that financially support the library.
  • OCL does not retain copies of municipal resolutions indefinitely.
  • All Federated Systems need a system agreement defining relationships between the entities.
    • Explains the agreement between an independent library and a system board defining that the independent library has become a member of the system.
    • Best practice is to review and update the agreement a minimum of every five years.
    • OCL does not retain copies of system and member agreements indefinitely.
  • All Federated System Administrations must have a system-wide plan of services and development that is reviewed annually and amended as necessary.
    • A system agreement does not constitute a system-wide plan.
    • The County Coordination Plan does not constitute a system-wide plan.

All Federated Systems must hold system meetings at least once every two months with participation from the Federated System members.

  • Meetings may be held in-person and/or virtually.
  • District meetings may only count toward this requirement if system business is discussed during the district led meetings.

Library Services

  • This section was completed pretty well across the board. There were no major issues for the questions.

Collection

  • Part of your collection must contain a minimum of ten (10) periodicals listed in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature.
    • We understand that this is a bit outdated, but it is still part of the current regulations. As long as your library has access to at least 10 of these periodicals you are meeting this requirement. If a System or District provides access to these periodicals with your library, they can count for this requirement. You can still have periodicals outside of this list.

WAFL

There were many issues with uploading the correct format of the WAFL. Please ensure that your library is attaching the correct “Template” format. See here for instructions.

Waiver Section

The biggest issue we encountered while reviewing waiver applications was how libraries addressed their economic hardship. We were generous with what was accepted as economic hardship this year. Moving forward economic hardship should address the following:

  • Why is the library unable to meet standards?
    • This does not include a lack of state funding. Funds from State Aid cannot be used to meet the standards.
    • This needs to address the financial impact on the library or the overarching system.
  • Best practice is to use the following questions to guide answering what the economic hardship is:
    • Why does the library not have enough funds?
    • Why can’t the library increase their revenue?
    • Why are municipalities not able to increase financial support?
  • A good example of an economic hardship explanation for FTE and Hours of operation is:
    • The library serves an economically distressed area. In 2022, we received less funding from our local United Way, as they struggled to meet their fundraising goals, along with fewer funds from a Trust regularly received by the library, local donations, and the Friends of the Library. For the FTE requirement, the library also notes the struggle to balance decreasing income with the need to boost staff wages to be able to hire and retain staff - when places like Sheetz can pay $15-17 per hour. The library’s service population includes 4,037 residents. The library has struggled to meet the 45 hours per week requirement since it was increased in the State Library Code in 2012. Although state funds have increased slightly this year, the library's budget continues to be significantly underfunded to meet this requirement. To meet the 45-hour standard, the library will need to be open an additional 12 hours per week which will cost the library an additional $10,000-$12,000 annually, which is financially difficult for the library. The economic capacity of the library's population influences the library and the communities' ability to be supportive. The borough’s (2020) median household income is $35,088 compared to the Pennsylvania median household income of $63,627. Monetary contributions from the borough and township have decreased by $20,000 throughout the years and has not been fully restored. In addition, the Borough's percentage of rentals are far larger than ownership. With bus stations, mental health, drug behavior houses, half-way houses and three-quarter houses, and welfare, the library has become more of a social requirement. There are few businesses to cull from.

Goals & Action Steps

    • For each standard that a waiver is being requested for, there must be a corresponding goal and action steps.

Documents

The biggest issue we had with the document section was libraries not following the directions for uploading documentation. It is necessary to provide all required documentation with the correct file naming structure. This allows for easy recognition and record keeping.

  • Profit and Loss Financial Statements are usually the end-of-the-year treasurer’s report and should show total revenue and total expenditures within the fiscal year.
  • The current year’s budget must be a projection of the full year’s budget.
  • Board meeting minutes must be attached with a formal resolution/motion approving application for applying for a waiver.
    • Meeting minutes must contain the date of the meeting, the motion to apply, and that the motion has been approved.
    • For more information on board meetings, view the Board Governance Deep Dives: Meetings webinar on the PA Library Staff Academy.
  • Waiver Application and Board Resolution Signature Sheet must be filled out in its entirety.

Plans for the Use of State Aid

  • State funds cannot be used to meet state standards. If meeting standards is used as an answer in the Plans, it will be returned for corrections.
  • Ensure that all expenditure categories from the budget section are accounted for in the narrative. For example, if there is money in the lines for Facilities, Salary, and Collections, each category must be discussed in the narrative section.
  • For how the library plans to use the funds:
    • Provide details and/or name the items/services being offered.
    • Expand on operating costs.
    • It is recommended that you do not place dollar amounts in this section. The budget accomplishes that need and if there is an issue with your plan, it will now need to be fixed in two places instead of one. Keeping it simple is the better option here.
    • Listing any type of supporting details about the expenditures helps show those outside of the library field how state funds help libraries. Making things tangible has a great effect on understanding what libraries offer.
  • For how the funds will impact library service:
    • The section needs to explain how the funds will improve the library service. How does the community benefit? What services will be improved? How will the funds assist in the budget category? What benefits do the items/services have on the community?
    • This should provide details and examples of how the community benefits from these services, programs, staff, etc. The response to this question should address the end user experience. Adding some specificity of the things that your library does rather than a general sense of what a library is, describes what the library brings to its community.
    • We had one response tell the story of a patron who used the library help obtain resources for their child to help with a disability. Other stories like helping patrons access computers so they can apply for jobs and then sharing that those individuals then obtained a job from using the publicly accessible computers. These are some examples of the real-life impact that libraries have on their community.
    • Expand upon the items in your budget. Take those specifics and let us know how the community benefits from them.
    • All examples in the following sections were pulled from library Plan For the Use of State Aid submissions.
      • Salaries and Benefits – Utilize this space to show what your staff does for the community and the library’s users.
        • Example: When we are able to pay our staff competitive wages, we are able to have a lower turnover rate. This helps us keep our library fully staffed with knowledgeable individuals who are able to help members of the community. Our staff is already quite small, so our patrons form relationships with them and feel comfortable seeking their help.
        • Example: We offer benefits and longevity pay in order to retain valued employees. Library employees who like their jobs show this to library patrons and in turn more patrons will come to the library because the staff are happy, friendly, and helpful.
      • Collection Development - Answer questions like: Who benefits from the items bought? Are you buying them for specific types of users?
        • Example: The community benefits from our non-traditional materials because it gives them access to items that would otherwise be unavailable due to accessibility and budgetary restrictions.
        • Example: State Aid allows us to build collections of materials that offer support in areas like basic literacy, financial literacy, and health literacy. It also gives this population access to recreational resources like movies and audiobooks. 
        • Example: The addition of various e-readers will make more titles visually accessible to a wide range of patrons, as well as provide a range of loosely related titles on each of a series of subject-specific devices (such as history, biography, fiction, young adult, and so on); they will also allow us to save some space on our shelves. Our children's library of things will offer new and exciting items for our young patrons and their families, with a special focus on sensory items, which carry a whole host of benefits.
      • Facilities
        • Example: These funds will improve the quality of library services by allowing us to provide them with comfortable, well-lit, safe facilities that our users consider a community hub where people can connect, share, and learn.
        • Adequate heating and lighting as well as working bathrooms ensure that the library is a comfortable and welcoming space for our community to be. By offering warmth in the winter and AC in the summer, we provide a safe space for all of our community to enjoy. It is also in this comfort that people are best able to learn, therefore letting them get more use out of our collection and resources.
        • Example: Having updated computers will offer more for students and the general public who use our computers for their business and personal needs. This will include new desktops and monitors that have the most updated office tools on them. Our community relies on public computers and printing.
      • Library Services
        • Example: These services offer our community access to necessary technology which allows them to stay informed, perform research, apply for jobs, file taxes and other government documents, access homework help, and participate in entertainment opportunities.
        • Example: Provide outreach services to senior citizens and daycare centers throughout the county; making it easier for patrons to access library materials by delivering them to convenient locations.
        • Example: Provide programs that promote literacy, support lifelong learning and foster community engagement and social interaction.

Upcoming Changes:

  • After the title of the section (B/C/D, etc.) instructions have been added to many sections – whether it be the naming convention, or examples of what is needed. We hope that providing directions here will help submissions as they are being filled out and prevent errors.
  • All uploaded documents will need to be in PDF format and follow the naming convention.
    • Naming conventions help OCL keep information organized and easily accessible when downloading documents from LibPAS (We’ve all had to bulk download resumes that are all named “Resume” and then not been able to identify which resume belongs to which candidate. Without the naming convention, this is what would happen with all the documents for all 469 libraries.)
  • If historical incidents are being used as the reasoning for economic hardship, the affects that came about because of that economic hardship should be explained – not just stating the historical incident – and how it affected the current local community and library.

The State Aid Library Subsidy Application, or SALSA, for short, is a necessary part of the state aid program.

The application is a tool to determine an entity’s eligibility to receive state aid for the municipalities it claims. The questions and requests for supporting information are directly related to the eligibility requirements and standards that are outlined in the law.

The purpose of the 2023 SALSA is to:

  • Ensure that the library is eligible to apply for state aid.
  • Verify that the library is meeting the standards that qualify them to receive different levels of aid.
  • Provide an opportunity to request a waiver for certain standards that may not have been met in the past reporting year.

A library or library system qualifies for Incentive for Excellence Aid and/or Quality Libraries Aid by demonstrating it makes the minimum financial effort for each person residing in the municipalities that are part of the direct service area for which the entity is applying for aid (§9334 (a) and §9335 (a)). It is through the application process that an entity supplies proof of eligibility and claims municipalities (§131.32 (2) and (3)). Furthermore, if an entity intends to claim more (expand service area) or fewer (reduce service area) municipalities, it must be indicated as such in the application. Using the information collected in the SALSA, the Office of Commonwealth Libraries calculates the amount of state aid each approved entity is eligible to receive. (Since 2003, this amount has been determined by specific legislative language passed with each year’s budget, and the formula as outlined in §9334 through §9340 has not been used.)

If a library/system is ineligible to receive state aid due to non-compliance of standards, the State Aid Library Subsidy Application contains a waiver application that gives the library/system the ability to receive funding so long as waivers are legally allowable. If the library/system completes a waiver application, the following document must be attached to your State Aid Library Subsidy Application:  Waiver Application and Board Resolution Signature Sheet.

Timeframe: July – October 1

 

Training videos are accessible through the PA Library Staff Academy by following these links: 

State Aid Library Subsidy Application – Federated Administration (Overall System) 

  • This tutorial is geared towards system administrators. 

State Aid Library Subsidy Application – Federated System Members Libraries  

  • This tutorial is geared towards libraries that are members of a federated library system.  Libraries that receive their state aid funds through a system administration should review this tutorial. (System headquarter libraries are considered members of the federation and should complete this tutorial.) 

State Aid Library Subsidy Application – Independent Libraries 

  • This tutorial is geared towards libraries that are not affiliated with a federated library system.  Libraries that receive their state aid funds directly from the state should review this tutorial.  

Open Office Hours

If you still have questions after viewing the training videos, please attend our virtual open office hours. Links to these Teams Meetings will be shared via email and through your federated system administrator or district consultant.  

  • Independent libraries: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM on the following Tuesdays:

    • July 18, August 1, August 15, August 29, September 12, and September 26

  • Federated library members: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM on the following Thursdays:

    • July 20, August 3, August 17, August 31, September 14, and September 28 

  • Federated library administrations: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM on the following Tuesdays:

    • July 25, August 8, August 22, September 5, and September 19 

  • District consultants: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM on the following Thursdays:

    • July 13, July 27, August 10, August 24, September 7, and September 21.  

To access the PA Library Staff Academy, please follow these instructions: 

This staff academy will be accessed in the For Librarians section of POWER Library as a graphic on the right side.
Staff without a public library specific domain (most school and academic libraries, Gmail, Hotmail, yahoo, etc.), will be asked to email the administrator for access.  Access requests should be emailed to RA-EDTraining@pa.gov.

 

Video Instructions

1. Open PA Counting Opinions website: pa.countingopinions.com and click “Login” on landing page.

2. Login to the Pennsylvania Public Library Data Collection using your library’s username and password.  If you need assistance with this information, please contact the State Aid Office at ra-stateaid@pa.gov.

3. Your library’s home page will open.  Click “Begin”.

4. On Data Input screen, select one of the following collections, as available and appropriate for your needs: WAFL – Independent, WAFL – System, WAFL – System Member.

5. Ensure that the correct library is listed.  Federated System Administrations should create a WAFL for both the System Admin Unit and the overarching system. 

 

6.  Once both the collection and specific library has been selected, the WAFL is ready to be made.  Ensure that pop-up have been enabled for this step to be successfully completed. Click on the word PRINT in the upper right side of the site.

7. A pop-up “Print Form” box will appear, click on “Template”.

8. A pdf will be created and downloaded from the browser.  In the Edge browser, a notification appears so the document can either be immediately opened or saved.

9. Retrieve the downloaded document, save it on the computer, and re-name the document using the following naming structure. 

  • WAFL-District-Library-Year.pdf
    • Example: WAFL-Allentown-Dimmick-2023.pdf
    • Year represents the reporting period

 

For the reporting year of 2022, a waiver application will need to be completed within the State Aid Library Subsidy application for any waivable standard below the requirement.

State aid, also known as the Public Library Subsidy, is paid to public libraries that meet standards found in Title 24 The Public Library Code (Statute) and Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code (Regulations) (Sections 141.21- 141.28.) State aid is not provided to libraries to allow them to meet the standards, but is granted to libraries that are already meeting the standards as set forth in the laws.

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries recognizes that libraries may periodically come into economic hardship which prevents them from maintaining standards year to year and has the authority to grant waivers of certain standards. In accordance with 24 P.S. 9332(c), the waiver is intended to facilitate the submission of information libraries must provide if they fail to meet applicable standards and, if approved, maintain eligibility for state-aid. Submitting a waiver application does not guarantee that the waiver will be approved. The Library Board of Directors/Trustees should strive to meet standards to ensure future eligibility.

Because the formula is not currently in use, the standards the library/system are required to meet to be eligible for state aid is based on the type of aid the library received in 2003, either Incentive and/or Quality. Waiver applications are for reporting year 2022 to be eligible for payment in January 2024. If granted, the waiver is limited to the 2022 reporting period. If not granted, State aid may be withheld or delayed.

The Library Board of Directors/Trustees seeking a waiver must adopt a resolution to apply for a waiver of standards if meeting the standards places an economic hardship on the library’s operating budget. Economic hardship is the inability to meet reasonable basic expenses associated with providing library service aligned with standards outlined in the statute or regulations to be eligible to receive funding through the Public Library Subsidy.

This page will be updated as questions are received by the State Aid Team. 

Overall

Q. How do we fix information that was incorrectly reported on the 2022 annual report? 

A. The 2022 annual report cannot be changed. However, external public annotations can be added to the SALSA explaining any discrepancies. 

 

Q. Where can I find standards tables?

A. Standards tables can be found here. 

 

Section A - General Information

Q. Does a sign with our library name on the side of the building count as an "outside sign clearly identifying it as public library" even if we don't have the word "Public" in our name?

A. Yes.

 

Q. Is it required to submit the open hours per day of each location (branch and/or bookmobile)?

A. No.  The open hours listed on the SALSA application should only be those of the administrative entity (central library location). 

 

Section B - Administrative

Q. What is considered a contributing municipality?

A. We interpret a contributing municipality as one that provide the “15% or more of the yearly income of the library from all local municipal sources” as stated in the regs §141.21 (2)(i)(B). Local municipal sources can derive from the following, per the definition of municipality from the regulations Title 22 PA §131, Municipality—A county, city, borough, town, township or a school district of the second, third or fourth class, which establishes or maintains a local library.

 

Section C - Municipalities

Q. If the library has a referendum with our municipalities, is it the same as a resolution?

A. The library should enter the date of the referendum and then add an external public annotation explaining that the date is that of a referendum and not a resolution. 

 

Section D - Personnel

Q. How do I answer the certification question (D-6) if I am System Certified?

A. For a System Certified librarian: Select "No" for D-6. Enter a note explaining that you are system certified. If you do not have a certification extension on file, please fill one out and explain the situation that prevents the library director from obtaining the required certification level.

Q. Should a library that is in the process of hiring for a director, hire based on the 2000 census population numbers or the 2020 census population numbers? 

A: The current standards are based on the 2000 census populations. 

 

Section E - Library Services

Q. What documentation is acceptable to show that the library participates in the District Library Center Cooperative Program?

A. Any documentation that the library has stating its cooperation with the district library center program is sufficient to answer yes. We suggest using the district negotiated agreement since any original documentation is probably hard to find or may not even have existed. 

 

Section F - Collection

Q. Not all of our periodicals are listed in the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, is that okay? Can we use another index for the periodicals not listed within the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature?

A. Only ten periodicals must be listed within the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (https://www.hwwilsoninprint.com/pdf/rdg_toc.pdf).  All other periodicals may be added to your collection based on the criteria set forth in your collection development policy, which may include references to other periodical indexes. 

Q. Can simultaneous use platforms - like Cloud Library - be used to count as periodicals?

A. The platform can be used to count periodicals but only titles that were used by patrons during the reporting period can be counted. See the Electronic Resources Decision Tree for clarification of how to report collection and usage statistics. A similar question is also referenced in the Annual Report FAQ which can be found here: Section E - Library Collection - Annual Report 2022 Overview and FAQ - LibGuides at State Library of Pennsylvania.

 

Section G - Financial

 

 

Section H - Waiver Assessment for Libraries 

Q. If I'm not meeting standards on my WAFL, how long does the library have to come into compliance with those standards?

A. A library should come into compliance as soon as they can.

 

Q. Is there a range from certain standards that a library can be short and not have to apply for a waiver? For example, if a library is only 1,000 books away from meeting the standard vs. being 5,000 books away, would they have to apply?

A. If a library is not meeting standards, they have to apply for a waiver.

 

Q. How is FTE calculated? 

A. The total FTE standard is a combination of part-time employees, volunteers, and full-time employees' total. 

 

Q. Does a library need a full-time employee?

A. An independent library needs at least one full-time employee according to the regulation §141.21(2)(iv)(d) - "The library must have one qualified staff member or full time equivalent (FTE) for each 3,500 persons in its direct service area.  The library must have at least one (1) full time staff member (35 hours/week).  If there is only one (1) full time staff member, that person must be certified at least as a Library Assistant."

Historically, system member libraries have not been held accountable for meeting this standard and because of this, the standard only applies independent libraries. 

 

Q. The library's WAFL is showing a blank for CE for support staff, however the library doesn't have part-time staff working 20 hours or more that should be meeting the standard- what should I do?

A. The library should answer "Yes" to meeting the standard for support staff CE and add an external public annotation explaining the situation. 

 

Section I - Waiver Application

Q. In the waiver history section of the SALSA, libraries are to indicate if they applied for a waiver in the past three years. Should the answer be yes if a library or system applied for a waiver on the Plan for State Aid but it turned out not to be necessary because they met all the standards?

A. Libraries should only answer “YES” if they did not meet standards in the past and applied for a blanket waiver. If they applied for the blanket waiver and didn’t need to because they were meeting all standards, they should answer “NO.”

 

Q. When do I have to fill out a waiver request application?

A. A library will fill out a waiver application when it is not meeting the required standards for the type of aid they received in 2003. This type of aid will be found on the library's WAFL and on their application. 

 

Q. If a library was not meeting standards in 2022 but currently is, will the library need to fill out a waiver application? 

A. Yes.  Please review the training listed on the Training and/or the instructions within the waiver section of the application for more information. 

 

Q. Does a waiver application need to be completed for a temporary closure due to construction or emergency situations?

A. A library would fill out the Temporary Closure Notification form found here: Temporary Closure Notification.

 

Q. Are waivers being applied for the 2023 calendar year or the 2022 calendar year?

A. 2022.  The need for a waiver is based on whether standards were or were not met for the 2022 reporting year. 

 

Q. What do I do if my library board doesn't have a meeting scheduled before the deadline?

A. The library board may hold a special meeting to vote on the waiver application submission resolution to ensure adherence to the deadline. 

 

Q. What do I do if my board meeting minutes are not approved until after the deadline?

A. A draft of the board meeting minutes will be acceptable.