Children’s author Lindsay Barrett George speaks on PA Forward Wednesday morning at Martin Library.
Children's author Lindsay Barrett George speaks on PA Forward Wednesday morning at Martin Library. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS -- SARAH CHAIN)
If you haven't been inside recently, you might think the 13 York County libraries only offer books.

But there's much more available, from Internet access and the eBranch to informational sessions on planning a will or understanding Social Security.

About a year ago, libraries across Pennsylvania were seeking a way to tell the community about their new offerings. They also wanted to better serve the real-life needs of the patrons.

And so began PA Forward.

As the Pennsylvania Library Association's 21st Century Literacies Initiative, the program is comprised of five literacies: basic, information, civic and social, health and financial.

"People don't understand the value, breadth or depth" that libraries and librarians offer, said Trish Calvani, president of the York County Library System.

But the impact is significant. One in three residents of York County has a library card, and the 13 libraries across York County will welcome 2 million visitors this year, whether to borrow from the digital library, access the Internet or otherwise engage with the staff.

In serving so much of the community, libraries can become leaders in the community, Calvani said. PA Forward will help refocus and reinforce how they can help state residents.

Thirteen percent of Pennsylvanians don't have the literacy skills to read a basic newspaper. Now, as a basic literacy program, York County Libraries started a partnership with the York County Literacy Council to recruit tutors. By the summer, here will be a station at the YCLC building on East King Street where patrons can check out library books or apply for a library card, Calvani said.

"Without libraries, believe it or not, the literacy in this state won't improve," said Lindsay Barrett George, a children's author and a member of the PA Forward Advisory Board. George's book "Inside Mouse / Outside Mouse" was chosen as the state's first One Book, Every Young Child selection in 2006.

"We want to connect children and people who need libraries with the library system," George said.

By the numbers

1 in 3 -- York County residents with a library card

1.6 million -- Visitors welcomed

284,000 -- Times the public access computers and Internet were used

10,800 -- Children and teens registered for the Summer Reading Club

95,190 -- Hours of reading time logged by Summer Reading Club participants

71,000 -- Kids and parents who participated in children's programs

67,300 -- Hours committed by volunteers

-- Statistics from 2011, courtesy of York County Libraries

Online

For more on book news in York County, visit www.yorkblog.com/books.