York County Library System

York County is located in the Susquehanna Valley, of South Central Pennsylvania, and is home to thirteen libraries which make up the York County Library System. “Libraries in Pennsylvania are embracing the idea that financial literacy is a necessary component in Pennsylvanians leading successful, productive lives, and it’s one of five core literacies that York’s libraries will be addressing now and in the future,” said Director of Youth Services, Paula Gilbert.

A Family Affair

The library’s approach uses children’s literature and Right on the Money curriculum to introduce children to key financial concepts. This gives parents the tools and information to reinforce their own financial knowledge and helps them to positively influence their children’s future money management skills. This four week program was scheduled in all libraries within the system. Marketing featured a pink pig and the tag line, “Enjoy some family fun and help your children learn about money at the same time!”

The library’s project manager, added a new element to the existing program. She reached out to the librarian in a neighboring school district and to the children’s librarian at the Guthrie-Memorial branch library in Hanover, Pa. Together they developed a strategy to reach 1,400 kindergarten, first and second graders in Hanover’s two school districts. They offered assemblies in each of 7 elementary schools and engaged the children in story time, a group activity and lessons about earning and spending money. Each child also received a complimentary book and teachers were given activities to take back to their classrooms as follow-up lessons. The teachers agreed to promote Right on the Money programs at the library for the following month with a flyer that went home with the children.

It’s Great When a Plan Comes Together

This strategy fit perfectly with the elementary school library theme, “Bank on Books.” The school librarians had recently developed a year-long curriculum focused on math, counting and money and Right on the Money from the York County Library System was a perfect complement.

UPDATE: A follow-on grant allowed the program to expand and reach teens through Money School. High school juniors and seniors and their parents participate in an initial 3-hour Saturday morning session using the High School Financial Planning Program curriculum developed by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).

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Workshop instructors teach the basics of managing checking and savings accounts, using debit and credit cards, creating a personal financial plan, budgeting, setting financial goals, and introducing students to the importance of credit history. An online portal helps parents learn ways to reinforce these financial concepts to their teens at home. One parent noted, “What I learned will help me plan for the future (mine and my son’s) to help us become more financially secure and independent.”

Children and Teens and the Summer Reading Club

York County Libraries and the Healthy York County Coalition joined forces for the fifth year to present the Summer Reading Club & Get Outdoors Program with a kick-off in 13 libraries and 25 parks.

Promoted as part of family summer vacation plans “mini-camps” for children include Right on the Money programs. Breakfast is ready for teens who attend any or all of the eight Money School workshops on Saturdays and dinner is also served on weeknights with pizza.

Online registration helps organize and promote attendance with follow-up emails and contact with participants. In additional to public schools and in-library flyers, promotions for both Right on the Money and Money School are distributed during the Homeschool Fair to over 11,000 children and teens. The excitement starts in early June with a countywide event and continues through mid-August.

Lessons Learned

• Both the public library and the schools met their common goal, to engage the children in learning about money. Adding assemblies in the schools helped establish a strong model for public and school library collaboration. By sharing resources, they are advancing the mission of each partner agency with a greater outreach effort.

• Having the flexibility to add program elements and modify the original plan strengthened the project, attracted more media coverage and helped build community awareness about the free financial literacy resources available at the library.

• “Money School has strengthened partnerships between York County Libraries and local school districts and has expanded the libraries’ outreach to York County teens,” said Gilbert. “Our Money School program was a first-time library event for more than half the attendees, and many plan to visit their local library in the near future.”

Grants awarded in 2009; 2011


Looking to take your library’s financial literacy efforts to the next level? Connect with ALA’s Financial Literacy Interest Group.