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Steering PA Forward


PA Forward Overview

PA Forward provides a universal voice and framework for Pennsylvania libraries and community engagement. The Pennsylvania Library Association initiative, which launched statewide in 2012, works through five key literacies – Basic, Information, Civic & Social, Health and Financial – and helps libraries connect their programs to community needs.  

Since 2017, the principals that have guided the work of PA Forward are: 

  1. Communication

  2. Partnerships

  3. Funding

  4. Star Library

  5. Continuity & Strengthening

To continue helping libraries use PA Forward to demonstrate all they offer, in January 2017, the Association kicked off the Star Library program statewide. The Star Library recognition offers support to libraries who participate and integrate PA Forward’s literacies in their programming activities. Those libraries are recognized for meeting benchmarks within the bronze, silver and gold star levels of the program. 

Stars are awarded on a quarterly basis in the calendar year and the recognition is for the highest level attained in the program at the time of the award. To learn more about the Star Library program, visit 


PA Forward In Action

As of 2019, the operational structure for PA Forward took a three-pronged approach:

  • Steering Committee - focusing on strategic planning, evaluation, mission, community partnerships and engagement, as well as fundraising.
  • Training Team - focusing on trainings including the Star Library Program, resource development and skill building.
  • Workgroup - focusing on the five literacies of PA Forward - Basic, Information, Civic and Social, Health and Financial - working with all libraries to implement the framework in their settings whether public, special, academic or school libraries. 

Volunteer leaders comprise the PA Forward Committees.  

Steering Committee:

  • Paula Gilbert, Chair, York County Libraries
  • Mary Garm, Immediate Past Chair, Lackawanna County Library System
  • Jessica Church, Punxsutawney Memorial Library
  • Barbara Eshbach, Penn State University Libraries
  • Kelli Knapp, Warren Library Association
  • Allison Mackley, Hershey High School
  • David Schappert, Marywood University


  • Tanya Fischer, Chair, National Comprehensive Cancer Network
  • Brenda Beikert, Knox Public Library
  • Rick Miller, Osterhout Free Library, Luzerne County Library System
  • Bridget Conlogue, Wilkes University
  • Christopher Raab, Franklin & Marshall College
  • Claire Williams, Huntingdon County Library
  • Emily Mross, Penn State Harrisburg
  • Heather Lipinski, Warmister Township Library
  • Maryellen Kanarr, Emmaus Public Library
  • Margie Stern, Indian Valley Library
  • Nathan Thomas, Reading Public Library
  • Debbie Malone, DeSales University
  • Paula Contreras, Penn State University Libraries

Training Team:

  • Joann Eichenlaub, Chair, Penn College of Technology's Madigan Library
  • Ed Wolf, Star Library Tech Team lead, Peters Township Public Library
  • Jackie Laick, Star Library Tech Team, Washington & Jefferson College
  • Alice Pakhtigian, Star Library Tech Team, Harcum College 
  • Claire Williams, Star Library Tech Team/PaLA Website Committee, Huntingdon County Library
  • Sarah Fetzer, Star Library Tech Team, Free Library of Northampton Township
  • Paula Gilbert, York County Libraries
  • Kathy Silks
  • David Schappert, King's College
  • Kelli Knapp, Warren Library Association
  • Paula Collins
  • Helen Taylor, Ford City Public Library
  • Jessica Miller, Washington County Library System
  • June Houghtaling, North Central Library District

The PA Forward Program Manager is a staff person with the Pennsylvania Library Association, and together with the volunteer leaders work to offer content, training, and outreach assistance for the Association's members and all libraries across the Commonwealth. 

For more information about PA Forward, including how to become more involved in the Star Library Program or become a volunteer leader, send an email to or call 717-766-7663. 

This project is made possible, in part, by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. 

Contact Us

220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
717-766-7663 Phone
717-766-5440 Fax
800-622-3308 (PA Only)