The Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Bureau of Library Development, Division of Subsidies and Grants administers the State Aid to Public Libraries subsidy. Eligible public libraries use state aid to defray the day-to-day costs incurred in providing public library service. On average, state aid provides about 16-18% of public library income in Pennsylvania.
To be eligible, public libraries must meet standards relating to structure, administration and library service. The standards are described in Public Library Code, 24 C.S. §§ 9301 to 9376 and in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code Chapters 131-143.
Libraries apply annually for State Aid funds. The Division of Subsidies and Grants staff review applications for compliance with the library standards and to determine level of funding. The Annual Report for Public Libraries that is completed by all state aided libraries is the basis for published public library statistics.
Annual Report Collection Instrument - LibPAS
In April 2012, the Bureau of Library Development decided to move the Application for State Aid, Plan for the Use of State Aid and the Public Library Annual Report to Counting Opinions' LibPAS software platform.
In order to prepare for the rollout of a new collection instrument to the libraries, the Bureau developed a two-year timeline for the project and conducted a comprehensive review of every data element. Criteria for the review was established and limited to data required for federal reporting, data to determine compliance with state standards, data supplied to other national or state surveys, and data collected and used in the last two years to respond to requests from the library field and the legislature.
The LibPAS platform provides the Bureau with flexibility in generating reports, analyzing data and creating periodic data surveys.
Some stellar features include program-generated calculations from raw data; updated instructions to assist the user, a system of edit checks to alert users when the data is outside of established parameters or a question has not been completed and the ability to enter notes to explain data.