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Operation Access: A Library/Military Collaboration

Pierce County Library System, WA
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Innovation Summary

Through engagement with officials at the nearby Joint Base Lewis McChord, Pierce County Library System (PCLS) demonstrated a strong commitment to the local military community, which resulted in increased communication and a library presence on-base that had not been possible before.

Problem Statement

PCLS was approached by Connie Lee of Joint Base Lewis McChord in early 2012. The base was experiencing budget cuts and saw in the library a way to leverage existing community resources to achieve some of the services it would have to eliminate. The initial meeting informed PCLS of the needs of the military community. The following is a list of the services that were to be eliminated by the base. • Test proctoring. • Decrease in computer lab access • Job and business counseling for military families and/or military personnel transitioning to the workforce These were all services PCLS could offer to military customers and it was advertised to soldiers that the library was ready to serve them. PCLS found that providing computer service for military customers posed some unique problems. The U.S. Department of Defense, understandably, has very high level security for its personnel to access online services remotely. This made it difficult for military customers to do what they needed to do on the library’s public Internet computers. PCLS determined that one of the main barriers for military customers was the absence of Common Access Card (CAC) Readers.


PCLS determined that access to CAC Readers would enable the library to meet the computing needs of military customers and allow them to access their e-mail and other services provided by the base and the Department of Defense. Working with JBLM’s IT department PCLS purchased and deployed CAC readers to all 18 PCLS libraries.


4/12/12 – Pilot starts at Lakewood Pierce County Library 12/12/12 – Rolled out to other PCLS libraries 3/29/13 – Total Lifetime Circulation - 37 Willingness, support and collaboration by Department of Defense, in seeking a method for military customers to access necessary secure information from a civilian library location.