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Workforce Development and Libraries

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries' 2018-2022 Library Services and Technology Act five-year plan identifies workforce development services as a priority.

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development endorsed this work in July 2017 by resolving to:

  • Encourage public libraries' efforts to work with workforce investment boards in order to advance workforce development for employers and job-seekers in Pennsylvania.

In 2018, Governor Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order that identified the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development as one of fourteen agencies that the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board should collaborate and coordinate with in order to develop statewide policies that improve workforce development.


PAsmart is focused on ensuring Pennsylvania students and workers have the skills and abilities to meet the economic needs of the 21st century. In 2019-20, the Department of Education will award up to $20 million in PAsmart grants to prepare students for the fast-growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science.

There are two PAsmart grant categories: Targeted Grants and Advancing Grants.  Of particular interest to public libraries is the PAsmart Advancing Grant category.

PAsmart Advancing Grants support cross-sector partnerships to provide STEM and computer science experiences to learners of all ages – early childhood, PreK-12, postsecondary, and adult learners – as part of a strategic approach to workforce readiness. 

Public libraries are eligible to apply in the PAsmart Advancing Grant category as a lead applicant or a partner.  (Lead applicants are encouraged to create a cross-sector proposal and apply as a consortium with local schools, community-based organizations, local workforce development boards, STEM Ecosystems, etc.)

In the Targeted Grant category, public libraries that provide professional learning to educators in STEM or computer science, may be eligible to participate with a local educational agency as a partner.

PAsmart grant applications and additional information are available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

Workforce Development Service Survey

In 2017, OCL conducted a public library survey about workforce development services.  Top-ranked library services were: 

  • 100% provide Internet access (desktop and Wi-Fi); 29% lend laptops or tablets;
  • 70% provide online resources on subjects such as careers and occupations, text
    preparation, and job-search skills;
  • 50% hold classes on computer job-search skills; 39% hold classes on resume writing or interviews; and
  • 31% hold classes on planning for educational expenses.

Learn more about the survey results:


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) specifically identifies public libraries as possible partners for One-Stop Career Centers (known as CareerLinks in Pennsylvania).  Here is some background information on WIOA:

Developing Workforce Agency Partnerships

Libraries have unique assets that local workforce development agencies might want to know about:

Here are some recommendations about how libraries can collaborate with local agencies:

  1. Be familiar with your community's Local Workforce Development Area(s) (LWDA). (map of LWDA’s from the PA Workforce Development Association   
  2. Coordinate your communications with nearby libraries that are located in your LWDA.
  3. Meet with your local Workforce Development Board’s (WDB) executive director. Introduce yourself and the libraries in the LWDA’s geographic area.
  • Tell them about the services that your library provides to job seekers and employers.
  • Discuss how you can participate in the WDB’s planning process.  Could you make a presentation to the WDB or be part of planning meetings?
  • Discuss how you can help make local workforce development services more accessible and cost-effective. Some example sare: