Explanation of the Program
Commonwealth Libraries, part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, oversees the Public Library Code, coordination of library services, and public library funding. Commonwealth Libraries assigns legal service area to public libraries. Service areas designate the geographic area in which people live who are eligible for service at no charge from that library.
Commonwealth Libraries is a financial partner with local governments in providing library service to communities. As a first step to receiving State Aid dollars, a public library must show Commonwealth Libraries that its community is willing to make a commitment to stable financial support.
Until the Access Pennsylvania Statewide Library Card System began in the late 1980s, people could only use libraries located in their own communities. Through this program, the state subsidizes a portion of each library’s costs for lending materials to non-residents with a home library card.
PA residents can only get a library card with an Access Pennsylvania sticker on it if they live in a community that has established or maintains a public library. A person’s home library is that local library designated by the municipality within which the person resides, as defined in Section 102, Library Code (24 PS § 4102). A valid card from the home library gains an individual access to the direct borrowing program at any other participating library.
Participating libraries may sell non-residents cards to persons without a home library. A library selling such a non-resident card shall not sponsor that person for the statewide direct borrowing program, so library cards with Access Pennsylvania stickers cannot be issued to people that do not live in the library’s service area.
Pennsylvania residents who do not have a home library are eligible for a free POWER Library eCard. The eCard may only be used to access e-resources from the POWER Library.
It can not be used to access additional collections purchased by the local library or for circulation activities. For example, it will not be possible to check out materials or to place materials on hold within Cumberland County Library System using an eCard. You also can't use our eBook collection, or locally-purchased databases, such as Morningstar and HeritageQuest.
To obtain a POWER Library eCard, please submit the eCard registration form.
Explanation of Fee Library Cards vs. No Charge for Residents of Perry County
In 1999, Commonwealth Libraries created a requirement that state-aided libraries and library systems must receive at least $5 in local financial support for each person in its service area to be eligible for state aid and participation in the Access Pennsylvania Statewide Library Card program.
The Perry County Library System could not meet the $5 per capita minimum expenditure requirement for the entire county population and the system was forced to disband for state-aid purposes. Today, each of the four public libraries operate as independent libraries with individual service areas. These service area changes have resulted in areas of Perry County that do not receive library service at no charge (known as unserved areas.) Thus people who live in these thirteen Perry County municipalities must pay for library services from Cumberland County:
- Carroll Township
- Duncannon Borough
- Landisburg Borough
- Liverpool Borough
- Liverpool Township
- New Buffalo Borough
- Penn Township
- Saville Township
- Spring Township
- Tuscorora Township
- Tyrone Township
- Watts Township
- Wheatfield Township
Residents of all other Perry County townships and borough may receive Access Pennsylvania service from Cumberland County at no charge. To obtain a library card at no charge, Perry County residents must present a valid Perry County library card with an Access Pennsylvania sticker on it along with proof of identity and address.