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FAQs - Getting Started

Welcome to the POWER Library: For Librarians Hub -

Your one-stop-shop for all things POWER Library!

Looking for some basic information about POWER Library?
We've got you covered--keep on reading below.

Looking for more specific information about a particular service?
Select a service from the menu at the left for some getting-started information.

Interested in training or ways to promote POWER Library and its services?
Select the Training and Outreach links at the left for more information.

Need to get in touch with us?
Select Support from the top menu and fill out the Contact Support form.

But First - What is POWER Library?

Let's take a quick look at POWER Library, so that you can understand just what POWER Library is and how POWER Library’s Core Services all fit in within the overall grand design of Pennsylvania’s online world of electronic resources.

POWER Library was designed to be Pennsylvania’s virtual library branch, offering databases and services to all residents of the commonwealth from a single website.  It is a service of the Office of Commonwealth Libraries (or OCL)—and it’s OCL that make all the decisions regarding what content POWER Library has.  

However, while OCL makes all the major decisions, it’s Hosting Solutions and Library Consulting (or HSLC) that actually administers the site on their behalf.  HSLC takes care of all day to day tasks, such as making sure the site is working, troubleshooting problems with access, and providing trainingswhile OCL takes care of adding to and revising the POWER resource lineup.

POWER Library began by offering a suite of electronic resources, or databases…but over the years the scope of POWER library has greatly expanded to really become the Office of Commonwealth Library’s virtual branch. 

One of the major changes was to create access points for the different age levels of our users.  So, in addition to our main POWER Library page, there is now POWER Kids, which has its own unique URL and contains only the resources best suited for our younger users, and POWER Teens, which has its own URL, and contains links and resources our teenage audience will find most useful.

Underlying all of those access points are POWER Library’s 4 core services: 

- Access PA, otherwise known as Interlibrary Loan—which comprises the shared catalog of all participating statewide libraries and facilitates the lending between them

The POWER eResources or databases—of which there are currently over 60 covering a wide range of topics, and which only require a public library or POWER eCard to access

- PA Photos and Documents—which is an online repository of digitized archival materials from institutions all across the state that chronicle the history, culture, and people of the Commonwealth

- And lastly, Chat with a Librarian—which is the state’s live virtual reference service, available 24/7 to all residents of the Commonwealth

All of these services together make up Pennsylvania’s Online World of Electronic Resources, and are paid for through funds provided by the PDE, OCL, LSTA Grants, and participating libraries' POWER Library Technology Support fees.

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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 and
through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Library Access funds administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries.  

The views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Pennsylvania Department of Education                         Institute of Museum and Library Services