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

Early Literacy
PLA, together with the Association for Library Service to Children, have incorporated the latest research in early literacy, into a series of turnkey parent and caregiver workshops that provide public libraries with vital tools to help prepare parents for their critical role as their child's first teacher. Every Child Ready to Read®  @ your library® (ECRR) is an education initiative focused on teaching parents and other caregivers how to support the early literacy development of their children. Early literacy efforts like ECRR are a natural first step in supporting children’s learning and development and building greater family engagement. 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Public libraries have a unique and unparalleled ability to bring people and knowledge together, and PLA is committed to helping libraries achieve their mission through the core values of openness and inclusiveness. In February 2017, PLA formed a Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), which will work to strengthen the organization’s commitment to its core values, while ensuring issues of EDI remain a top priority.

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.

Health Literacy
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. A new nationwide initiative from the Public Library Association (PLA) and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) will increase public library workers’ knowledge and skills related to consumer health services.

Inclusive Internship Initiative
Over Summer 2017, PLA supported paid internships for 50 high school students in public libraries across the country through the Inclusive Internship Initiative (III). III introduced 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, DC, 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.