PLA Initiatives & Projects

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, PLA supports its members to turn their libraries into digital literacy learning centers.

  • DigitalLead: Rural Libraries Creating New Possibilities
    PLA and Microsoft Corp. are increasing digital skills programming and access to technology in rural communities by providing hardware, training, and resources to rural libraries. Libraries can establish mobile hotspot lending programs or expand digital skills training programs and patron access to computers.

  • Libraries Lead with Digital Skills
    Libraries Lead with Digital Skills is an initiative of ALA and PLA, sponsored by Grow with Google. Its goal is to ensure that public libraries across the nation receive ongoing access to free tools and resources to help everyone across America grow their skills, careers and businesses.

  • Public WiFi Access Micro Grant Program
    PLA and Microsoft Corp. are working together to increase access to technology in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft will provide $120,000 to help public libraries in rural communities with hardware and support to install public WiFi access points on or near library grounds.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
PLA advocates for equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice in order to enable every member, library, and community group to fully and equally participate in a society mutually shaped to meet their needs.

  • Inclusive Internship Initiative
    In alignment with PLA’s strategic goal related to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice, the Inclusive Internship Initiative (III) III was piloted in 2017 as a pathway program to increase diversity in public librarianship. III introduces high school students from diverse backgrounds to careers in public libraries through paid, mentored internships.

Family Engagement
Family engagement is a shared responsibility among families, educators, and communities to support children’s learning and development. PLA’s work on family engagement will help libraries serve families of all types with children of all ages.

  • Early Literacy
    Early literacy efforts are a natural first step in supporting children’s learning and development, and in building greater family engagement. PLA proudly offers Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® to help libraries teach parents and other caregivers how to support the development of their children’s literacy skills.

Fostering Creative Community Connections
Launched in March at the PLA 2018 Conference in Philadelphia, the Fostering Creative Community Connections project promotes reading and literary joy, community engagement, library programs and services, and creative expression from diverse writers through Short Story Dispensers and a national short story contest. The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and managed by PLA, with support from community publisher Short Édition.

Global Libraries Legacy Partnership
In 2016, PLA received a ten-year grant from the Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. PLA is partnering with fellow Gates Foundation grantees the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington’s Information School and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to align our efforts toward a shared vision of a global library field.

Health Literacy, Programming, and Consumer Health Information
Access to current and reliable health information is imperative for the well-being of all Americans, and public libraries are frequently a "go-to" resource as people navigate complex issues of health care, insurance, aging, and more.

  • Libraries Connecting You to Coverage
    PLA, along with nearly a dozen other organizations throughout the U.S., is working to promote enrollment in the health insurance marketplace of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Opioid Crisis Response
    PLA is collaborating with OCLC to collect and share knowledge and resources to support public libraries and their community partners in addressing the opioid crisis. OCLC was awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to perform this work.

Performance Measurement
Many public libraries rely solely on attendance numbers and anecdotes to measure the success of their programs and services. PLA’s Performance Measurement Initiative seeks to provide libraries with outcome-based tools to better demonstrate their value.

  • Impact Survey
    PLA is now “home” to Impact Survey, which was originally developed and administered by the University of Washington’s Information School. Impact Survey helps libraries measure patron’s technology needs.