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Library Laws

The Public Library Code directs the Pennsylvania Department of Education to appoint a State Librarian to serve as its Deputy Secretary for Libraries.  The Deputy Secretary is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the State Library of Pennsylvania and the coordination of a statewide system of local (public) libraries.  

The Public Library Code also establishes the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development and a system of financial aid for public libraries that meet requirements established by the Public Library Code and Pennsylvania Code regulations.  

A compilation of library laws may be found in:

In addition to the Public Library Code, other statutes also affect libraries. These include:

  1. Fiscal Code – How state aid, or Public Library Subsidy funds, are distributed;
  2. Child Internet Protection Act – Requires schools and public libraries to have an acceptable-use policy for Internet use;
  3. Title 18. PA. C.S. Crimes and Offenses – Defines library theft, prosecution for overdue materials, and offenses against public order and decency;
  4. Title 23. PA. C.S. Domestic Relations (Child Protective Services Act) – Mandates suspected child abuse reports from library workers and volunteers.  (The website Keep Kids Safe provides information on complying with these laws;) and
  5. Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Act – Establishes a grant program for the planning, acquisition, development, and rehabilitation of public libraries.

Library Regulations

PART IX. State Library and Advisory Council on Library Development
  Subpart A. State Library
    Chapter 131. General Provisions; State Aid   
    Chapter 133. Certification of Library Personnel   
    Chapter 135. Library Traineeships   
    Chapter 137. Use of the State Library   
  Subpart B. Advisory Council on Library Development
    Chapter 141. Plans for the Use of State Aid   
    Chapter 142. Grants for Public Library Facilities   
    Chapter 143. State Document Depositories   

Background

Enacted in 2012, the Public Library Code provides laws related to the State Library of Pennsylvania and public libraries in Pennsylvania (24 PA. C.S. Education. Chapter 93.) 

The Pennsylvania Code contains library regulations (22 PA Code §§ 131 - 143.)  These regulations explain how the Public Library Code is implemented.  If the Pennsylvania Code’s regulatory language conflicts with statutory language found in the Public Library Code, the Public Library Code always takes precedence.

Guidelines are also approved by the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development.  Guidelines provide more detailed procedures for implementation of library laws, regulations, and official statements of policy from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  If language found in guidelines conflicts with either the Public Library Code or the Pennsylvania Code’s regulations, the Public Library Code takes precedence, followed by any regulatory language found in the Pennsylvania Code.

For example, the Pennsylvania Code’s regulations state that local libraries serving populations of 25,000 or less must be open at least 35 hours per week (22 PA Code §141.21 (2)(ii)(C).)  But the Public Library Code was changed in 2012 and it now requires libraries that receive Incentive for Excellence Aid to be open at least 45 hours per week (24 PA.C.S. § 9336(b)(3)(i).)  This creates conflicting language.  As a result, the 45-hour language found in the Public Library Code (the statute) prevails over the regulatory requirement of 35 hours.  

Inconsistencies like this and other outmoded regulations have prompted the Office of Commonwealth Libraries to begin an extensive review of library regulations.  Before being adopted, all revised or new regulations proposed by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries will undergo a lengthy Independent Regulatory Review Commission review process that will include several opportunities for public comment and input. This process is likely to take a few years.