Access to the College Green area of campus will be restricted until further notice. PennCard holders and some Penn affiliates may enter and exit Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center through the Rosengarten Undergraduate Study Center on the ground floor, and may enter and exit the Fisher Fine Arts Library through the 34th Street entrance to Meyerson Hall. See our Service Alerts for details.

Our History

The Penn Libraries Community Engagement (PLCE) was founded in September 2014 by librarian Ancil George in response to Philadelphia Public School District budget cuts that left over 200 Philadelphia public schools with librarian numbers in the single digits. Alongside a dedicated team of Penn students, librarian interns, and school and community partners, we work to ensure that school libraries and their collections are accessible, contemporary, representative, and exciting. In building collaborative library spaces, we foster a love of reading alongside literacy skill development.

Three people each holding up a children's book standing in front of library stacks

We do much of our work with and for school libraries in partnership with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) who, since 2008, has been opening and staffing school libraries with volunteers. We fund the Follett Destiny library management system for 17 WePAC elementary schools, as well as four high schools. We develop physical book collections and digital resources for these schools in collaboration with staff and students.

Beginning with the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, we expanded our scope of work to encompass a broader definition of community literacy. We have:

  • Developed a database of books to share with school and community partners.   
  • Worked closely with preschool literacy experts to understand how to support and build collections with that community.   
  • Run several cycles of our Coffee Chat program, a conversation group for adult English language learners.   
  • Developed literacy resources for families to use on their own, centering read-aloud engagement and conversation starters.    
  • Created public programs that encourage youth to write and illustrate their own stories, centering storytelling as the jumping off point.