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State Aid Resources for Pennsylvania Public Libraries

Plan For State Aid

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 Plans for State Aid for Public Libraries and Federated Systems report opens on Monday, October 30th, 2023.  The Office of Commonwealth Libraries’ deadline for submitting/locking your report is Friday, December 1, 2023, at 4:00 PM.

This year we have combined the plans for state aid with the County Coordination Aid plan. If your library does not receive County Coordination Aid directly from the state as part of your state aid payment, then you will not have access to the County Coordination Aid plan section of the report. You will find the Plans for State Aid and County Coordination Aid on LibPAS after logging in at pa.countingopinions.com and selecting the Plan for State Aid for Public Libraries & Federated Systems as the report form.

 

Training and Office Hours

A training video can be found on the PA Library Staff Academy. The training covers all aspects of how to fill out the report and what is expected as responses. A transcript of the video is listed within the training and can also be accessed here. Closed captioning is provided. 

The State Aid Team will host Q&A sessions at the times listed below. These sessions will be open to all. They are designed to allow us to answer any questions that you may have while filling out your plan. The sessions are optional for anyone to attend. We want to utilize this time to help those who are having trouble with any part of the report. If you cannot attend any of these Q&A sessions, please feel free to send your questions to our RA-StateAid@PA.gov email account. Links to the Q & A sessions are found below.

Q&A Session Times

 

Expectations for System Administrators and District Consultants

We are asking System Administrators and District Consultants to review the following sections of their member libraries’ Plans for State Aid for Public Libraries and Federated Systems report. Please review the applications as soon as they are submitted/locked, so we can review them as soon as possible. Due to the delay of the fiscal language blocking projection amounts, we have a tight turnaround timeframe to review these reports. System administrators and/or district consultants may provide earlier deadlines for their review purposes.   

System Administrators

  • Please verify that the anticipated amount of state aid received by your member libraries is correct. This will be found on B-1 of the member library’s plan report.

District Consultants/System Administrators (please decide these tasks among yourselves)

  • Please verify that the anticipated amount of state aid (B-1) matches the library’s Total Planned Expenditures line found at the end of Section B.
  • Ensure that C-1 does not state in any manner that state aid/funds are used to meet state standards.  Libraries are not allowed to use state funds for that purpose and those plans will be sent back for corrections.
  • Ensure that C-2 is not just restating the list of items listed in C-1.
  • Ensure that the system report is completed under the System Admin Unit entity.
  • For entities that receive County Coordination Aid, please verify that the anticipated amount of County Coordination Aid matches the library’s Total Planned Expenditures line found at the end of Section G-5.
  • For entities that receive County Coordination Aid, verify that any funds budgeted in questions G-1 through G-4 have the corresponding section (H though K) completed. For example, if funds are being spent on Technology (G-2), ensure that the contents of Section I (Technology) are also filled out.
  • Please select “Approve” for the plans you have reviewed.

From the Statute (Title 24 PA C.S. Education):

§ 9331. Qualification in general.

(b) Submission of plan.--The following shall apply:

(1) Any local library desiring to receive State aid under this chapter shall submit a plan for the use of the funds to the State Librarian.

(2) No payments shall be made until the plan is approved by the State Librarian in accordance with rules and regulations approved by the advisory council.

(3) Subsequent changes and modifications in a library plan may be submitted at any time for approval by the State Librarian.

 

§ 9337. County coordination aid.

(a) General matching rule.--In the case of a county library or library system in a county of the second through eighth class, State aid shall be given in an amount measured by the amount appropriated by the county government from county moneys and shall be determined as follows:

Class of County Percentage Match

2

5%
2A and 3 30%
4 50%
5 50%
6 100%
7 100%
8 100%

(b) Source of county moneys.--County moneys appropriated by the county government to the county library or library system may consist of funds from:

(1) the county general fund;

(2) a special library tax;

(3) a district established under section 3110-B of the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, for the support and maintenance of the county library; or

(4) other sources.

(c) Payments to county libraries or library systems in counties of the second through eighth class.--The following shall apply:

(1) A county library or library system in a county of the second through eighth class shall be paid the greater of either:

(i) an amount equal to the percentage match in subsection (a) multiplied by the level of county support paid; or

(ii) an amount equal to the amount paid under section 9342(b)(1) (relating to special rules for specific fiscal years), provided that:

(A) the amount paid under section 9342(b)(1) was 10% above the amount of county coordination aid received by the county in fiscal year 1999-2000; and

(B) the level of county support paid is maintained.

(2) If the level of county support decreases from the previous fiscal year, then the amount paid under this subsection shall be an amount equal to the percentage match in subsection (a) for the county multiplied by the reduced level of county support paid.

(d) Priority of payments.--The following shall apply:

(1) Payments to a county library or library system in a county of the second through seventh class shall be made from the funds remaining after payments have first been made to all county libraries or library systems in counties of the eighth class as provided in subsection (c) and shall be an amount equal to the level of county support as calculated under subsection (c) for each class of county.

(2) If the funds remaining after payments are made to counties of the eighth class as provided in subsection (c) are insufficient to pay the total amount for which each county library and library system in counties of the second through seventh class qualifies, then each shall be paid proportionately from the funds remaining.

(e) Use of funds.--A county library or library system shall expend funds received under this section to implement a countywide cooperative plan to improve and extend service. The plan shall coordinate areas of library service and administration, including library resources and collections, technology, personnel and services to children, adults and special populations.

(f) Recipients of payments.--County coordination aid shall be paid to the board of library directors in charge of each qualifying county library or library system.

(g) Annual report.--A report of the expenditure of State moneys received under this section shall be made annually to the county government and the State Librarian in such form as may be required by the State Librarian.

(h) Eligibility for other types of State aid.--Library systems may apply for additional amounts of State aid under sections 9334 (relating to quality libraries aid), 9335 (relating to incentive for excellence aid), and 9336 (relating to equal distribution grants).

 

From the Regulations (Title 22):

§ 131.33. Plan for use of State aid.
A payment of State aid may not be made until the library submits a plan for its use in accordance with instructions provided by the State Library and until the plan is approved by the State Librarian. Plans shall be submitted and judged in accordance with Chapter 141 (relating to plans for the use of State aid).

§ 141.11. Submission of plan.
(a) Plans for the use of State funds shall be submitted in accordance with instructions provided by the State Library.

(b) The plan shall cover the calendar year in which the library applies, or the calendar year immediately following, or the fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) which contains the date in which State aid is received.

§ 141.12. Prohibited expenditures of State funds.
State funds shall not be expended for any of the following purposes:

(1) Payment of rent to any municipality or to the library board of directors.

(2) Investment purposes, including stocks, bonds, long term notes, real estate for income or appreciation or any expense in connection with such real estate already owned, or for any other purchases for long term income or capital appreciation.

(3) Any library expenditure prohibited under The Library Code (24 P.S. §§ 4101—4503).

(Editor’s Note: The Library Code (24 P.S. §§ 4101—4503) was repealed by the act of November 1, 2012 (P.L. 1683, No. 210) and replaced by 24 Pa.C.S. Chapter 93 (relating to Public Library Code).)

§ 141.13. Unexpended balances.
State aid is intended for expenditure during the year covered by the library’s plan for its use, but if an unexpended balance does remain the library shall perform the following:

(1) Indicate such unexpended balance of State funds within its financial report required under § 131.32 (relating to proof of eligibility).

(2) Submit to the State Library for approval an amended plan for the use of these funds, or include such unexpended balance of State funds within its plan for the use of the next payment of State aid.

§ 141.14. Amendments to plan.
A library board of directors may submit amendments to its plan for the use of State funds for approval by the State Librarian at any time during the period covered by the plan. Approval of amendments to a library’s plan shall be subject to the same considerations as those applied to the original plan.

§ 141.15. General nature of plan.
The plan for use of State funds need not be for special or extraordinary projects. It may represent a simple program to add State funds to local funds for the purpose of increasing expenditures for books, salaries, operating expenditures, or capital expenditures, and to join in the cooperative practices of the district library center system of the library’s district. The State aid may be apportioned to any use which leads to the library’s increased effectiveness or efficiency over and above the level reached the preceding year. The plan should include a statement of how the library board of directors expects the intended use of State funds to improve the quality of the services of the library.

Frequently asked questions will be added here as they are received. 

 

General Questions

Q: Does the system need to request a roll up of data for the overarching system collection?

A: We do not require a system roll up this year. However, if we conduct a system roll up you can verify the amount of state aid allocated to the member libraries and the amount retained by the system is equal to the total allocation amount from the state.

Here is the formula you would use from the rolled-up system report to verify figures:

  • Total planned expenditures minus B-6 (distributed amount) should equal B-1 (Anticipated amount of aid).

Please contact ra-stateaid.pa.gov for a roll up request. 

 

Q: What library should I use to fill out my System's plan, the overarching system or the admin unit?

A: System Administrators will complete the Plans for the use of State Aid for Public Libraries & Federated Systems under the System Admin Unit entity in LibPAS.

 

Q: Do I need to add a response to every question?

A: All questions should be answered, unless they have been prefilled by OCL.

 

Q: Is there a signature sheet required for County Coordination Aid Plan?

A: For this year, we are not requiring signature pages for the CCA plan. We made a change to only ask how the library/entity that is receiving CCA will be sharing the plan with the member libraries. 

 

Section B

Q: Why is B-1 blank for some libraries and prefilled for others?

A: Independent libraries and Federated System Administrations are prefilled as this is the anticipated amount that will be provided to them for state aid. System Member Libraries receive their money from their System Administrations. These amounts will vary due to each system having their own distribution formula. 

 

Q: What do I put on a budget line that I am not using funds for?

A: Please put $0 on any line that is not utilizing funds. 

 

Q: What if we can't fit our expenditure into one of the established categories? 

A: State funds should be used for services that impact and improve the quality of library services for their community. We suggest that items that do not fit within those parameters are not to be paid for with state funds. 

 

Section C

Q; How do I answer question C-1? (How does the library plan to use these state funds? The description should coincide with the state aid budget section of this report.)

A: List specific details explaining how you are spending the funds. Ex: salaries of our professional staff, purchase of e-materials, etc.

 

Q: How do I answer question C-2? (Please explain the benefit the community will get from the use of these funds. Explain how the state funds will improve library services and the quality of those services. This should not be the same as how you are spending the funds.)

A: Please explain the benefit the community will get from the use of these funds. Explain how the state funds will improve library services and the quality of those services. This should not be the same as how you are spending the funds.

 

Section E

Q: Why is question E-1 greyed out? Why Can't I answer E-1?

A: Question E-1 is prefilled. If you do not receive County Coordination Aid from the state, E-1 will be blank. If you receive County Coordination from the state this question will be marked "yes". If you receive CCA from the state and E-1 is blank, please reach out to RA-StateAid@pa.gov so we can fix your report. 

 

County Coordination Plan

Section F

Q: How do I respond to question F-4? (Explain current relationship with the county government.)

A: This section should include answers to the following questions: How often do the libraries meet with county officials about library services?; How much funding does the library/system admin unit receive from the county and how is it used (is it dispersed or maintain at the county/system level)?

 

Q: How do I respond to question F-5? (Provide an overview of the current ways library services are being provided to all residents of the county.)

A: This section should include the answer to the following question: What services are being offered countywide? We are looking for the overall picture of county services. Being an overview, it is not limited to only CCA funds and can contain information for all county-wide services. CCA funds should be explained further in the rest of the plan categories in sections G through K.

 

Section G

Q: What do I put on a budget line that I am not using funds for?

A: Please put $0 on any line that is not utilizing funds. 

 

Sections H-K

Questions H-1, I-1, J-1, and K-1 are to only be answered "yes" if the library is expending County Coordination Aid funds for its corresponding category. If you are not expending County Coordination Aid funds for a category, please select "No" for those questions.