PLA Initiatives

Image of hands using paper, markers, and sticky notes for project planning

Our groundbreaking initiatives do more than develop new skills—they move our profession to ever more innovative places.

Digital Literacy
Community members come into public libraries every day, hoping to complete life tasks many of us take for granted, but lacking the basic computer skills to accomplish them. Through its digital literacy efforts, including DigitalLearn.org, PLA supports its members to make their libraries digital literacy learning centers.

Family Engagement
For families, family engagement is about the knowledge, attitudes, values, and behaviors that enable children to be motivated, enthusiastic, and successful learners. For schools and libraries, family engagement means respectful partnerships that offer the information, guidance, and opportunities for families to be active in their children’s learning and development. PLA initiated its work on family engagement in early 2015.

Global Libraries Legacy Partnership
In May 2016, PLA was honored to receive a ten-year grant from the Global Libraries (GL) Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. PLA will work with the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington’s Information School (TASCHA), and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to align our individual efforts toward a shared vision: a global library field where every public library can fulfill its potential as a vital, visible source of individual and community well-being.

Inclusive Internship Initiative
Over Summer 2017, PLA will support paid internships for 50 high school students in public libraries across the country through the Inclusive Internship Initiative (III). III will introduce students reflecting the diversity of our communities to careers in librarianships through mentored internships and networking opportunities. A kickoff event took place June 16–17, 2017, in Washington, D.C., and included special welcomes by Robert Newlen, deputy director of the Library of Congress, and Felton Thomas, Jr., president of PLA. Interns received a broad overview of library work through a master class covering such issues as educational paths to library careers and libraries’ role in increasing community literacy. This program is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant RE-00-17-0129-17.

Performance Measurement
Typically libraries rely on simple attendance counts and anecdotal success stories to measure the effectiveness of their services; however these statistics are not enough to guide internal strategy or build persuasive arguments to secure library funding. Enhancing existing service data with outcome data offers tremendous potential in many areas of the public library. PLA officially launched Project Outcome, its latest field-driven outcome measurement initiative, on June 26, 2015.