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Libraries Remain a Cornerstone of Schools: Rep. Thomas Murt

murtPublished by The Intelligencer, PA State Representative Thomas Murt says a shortage of librarians and libraries in the School District of Philadelphia is negatively impacting students because “the library is the heart and soul of the learning process.” As an educator, a parent and a state representative, Rep. Murt has begun work on a bill that dedicates a portion of state budget funding for schools specifically for school libraries and library staff.

Read more on Rep. Murt’s belief that professional librarians are essential in utilizing what the shelves have to offer.


Who Should Teach Our Kids the Difference Between Real and Fake News? Our Librarians: Debra E. Kachel

tvtubwmnIn a world where information is accessible with a click of a few buttons or the touch of a screen, Deb Kachel says emotional appeals and unsubstantiated claims sway popular opinions in our current post-truth era. Published by PennLive, Deb argues that, in order to be successful, students must be able to distinguish false claims, fraudulent sales pitches and dubious websites from trustworthy information and sources.

Read more on how librarians can lead students to trustworthy information.


Librarians Are Critical to Communities: John Kurelja, Ed. D.

kureljaWhen hired as the middle school principal in the Central Columbia School District, John Kurelja was introduced to one of the most influential educators he has ever met, a middle school librarian. In an op-ed published by The Standard-Journal, John recalls how Janice Dysart found a way not only to engage students with literature, but to embed their reading into their overall curriculum.

Read John’s story here.


21st Century Librarians: Servant Leaders 

aaeaaqaaaaaaaamkaaaajdk1ntnmndy1lwmxngytndk2mi1imgvilta4owvkotazyta4zgAcademic Reference and Instruction Librarian at Bloomsburg University Linda Neyer discusses how PSLA President Allison Burrell, President-Elect Jennifer Bates and Vice President Allison Mackley exemplify and embody the role of servant leaders in the PSLA organization and in their own school districts. As an academic librarian working with freshmen, Linda sees first-hand how the role and value of the school librarian influences a student’s research and literary skills in higher education.

Read more on how school librarians are leaders in many areas and are vital to their students’ success beyond high school.


Philadelphia School District Librarians: A Species Nearly Extinct?

3x2kearneyThe Philadelphia Inquirer examines the dwindling number of librarians in one of the nation’s largest school systems. The number of full-time, certified librarians in the Philadelphia School District is now in the single digits.

Read more on how shrunken Philadelphia school budgets are almost pushing librarians to the point of extinction.

Increasing Awareness of the 21st Century Librarian

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Education Committee Hearing


On August 30th, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Education Committee along with five testifiers came together at Perkiomen Valley High School for a hearing to discuss and highlight the role of the 21st century librarian.

Speakers included:
Allison Burrell – K-12 librarian for the Southern Columbia Area School District and President of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss – Superintendent of Salisbury Twp. School District

Kelly Gustafson – Coordinator of Elementary Education, Federal Programs, and Instruction for Greensburg Salem School District

Dr. Cathi Fuhrman – Library Department Supervisor for Hempfield High School, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association member

Megan Maloney – Kutztown University Library Sciences Major
Pennsylvania State Representative Steve McCarter referred to the hearing as “one of the highlights” of his time in the legislature.

Watch the hearing in full here.


Even in the iPhone age, School Librarians are a Vital Link to Learning

Originally presented as her testimony before the House Education Committee, PSLA President Allison Burrell expresses how librarians play an instrumental role in schools in her op-ed published by PennLive on October 24th. As Allison conveyed to the House Education Committee, “school district budgets are tightly stretched, but 21st century school library programs, led by certified school librarians, have the ability to positively impact every part of a school district.”

Read more on how, even in the iPhone age, school librarians are a vital link to learning.


Creating Future Ready Students

PSLA member and Hempfield School District library department supervisor Dr. Cathi Fuhrman discusses how her school district’s library program is an integral and essential component of the district’s success. Cathi also formatted this piece from her testimony presented at the House Education Committee Hearing.

Learn more about how Cathi’s school district utilizes its library program to create Future Ready students.


The Need for Librarians in the Digital World

Allentown School Board member and retired Parkland School District teacher Audrey Mathison highlights the critical need for 21st century librarians and school libraries in her op-ed published by the Allentown Morning Call on November 9th. Audrey conveys the important role librarians played in her 40-year teaching career and how that role evolved “in the heyday of the print culture” to today, where we can research everything just by Googling.

Read more about how librarians influenced Audrey’s teaching career here.

The Influence of Librarians

Meet the New PSLA President Allison Burrell

img_1721Finding her niche in PSLA while earning her Master’s in Library Sciences degree at Mansfield University, newly elected PSLA President Allison Burrell highlights her goals and visions for the organization as she balances the roles of librarian, wife and mother. Allison discusses how holding various PSLA positions has helped her cultivate ideas for the organization into goals and how she plans to achieve those goals with the help of the committee structure and PSLA members.

Read her story here.



Superintendent Creates 21st Century Libraries in the Salisbury Township School District

aasaSuperintendent of Salisbury Township School District Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss tells his story of how once conventional district libraries transformed into 21st century hubs of learning with technology at the forefront of education. Dr. Ziegenfuss used his experience in the school district and his knack for technology to turn librarians into technical experts and specialists in resource curation.

Read the full article.



Budget Update

dsc_0246_zpsav7hvruhAs the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania state budget came to a close, the legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf secured a $200 million increase in education spending. Members of the legislature, Gov. Wolf and PA Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera reflect on the budget and what it means for the education sector.

See how the budget benefits education.



Hempfield High School Librarian Dr. Cathi Fuhrman Participates in Lilead Fellows Program

Hempfield_Furman.jpgDr. Cathi Fuhrman, Library Department Supervisor for Hempfield School District in Lancaster County, attended the Lilead Fellows Program in Orlando, FL in June for the fourth and final in-person meeting of the intensive 18-month professional development program. Dr. Fuhrman highlights how this program has helped her tackle important goals for Hempfield’s library program and looks forward to the future of school librarianship.

Read the release here.




21st Century Library

Radnor’s 21st Century Library

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Radnor High School librarian Michelle Wetzel highlights the benefits and advantages students receive by using the library through a video produced by Radnor High School student Grant Plotkin. Michelle describes Radnor’s library to be a collaborative work place that hosts frequent author visits and utilizes technology to help students find the resources they are looking for. The high school library even offers a book club where the students participate in activities portrayed in the books that they read, such as a fencing lesson.

See the video here.



21st Century School Library – a High-Tech Hub


As Bloomsburg Area High School planned to cut its librarian position in 2014, Phil Burrell stepped in to transform the library into a 21st century hub of learning. The Bloomsburg Press Enterprise covered Phil’s success and his accomplishments in evolving the high school library with a self-serve coffee station for students, a green screen similar to those on film sets, more portable Microsoft Surface devices and a 3-D printer that layers material from a computer into a physical object. Phil discusses the influence the library has on students who use the new resources and how school curriculum has adapted to the changes in technology. 



A Week in the Life of a 21st Century Librarian


Librarians specialize in research, resources and helping students reach academic goals. Librarian Ruthie Neely explains a week in the life of a librarian is never the same and projects range from discussing literacy criticism to participating in a Battle of the Books, an event where students compete from across regional school districts in trivia styled competition. In a wide range of academia, a week in the life of a librarian also consists of guiding students down a career path, creating book displays and also helping teachers find resources to better assist students. Ruthie finds ways to modernize the library by using online databases to create digital publications, Skype to connect writing groups, and more! 

Learn what Ruthie is doing here. 



Innovative Educator Learns From Foreign Teachers

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Joining with about 300 teachers around the world, Milton Area School District library media specialist Karey Killian attended Microsoft’s E2 in Budapest Global Educator Exchange last month and, in result, developed connections for student exchanges and Skyping opportunities with schools around the world. Named in November as one of the 5,600 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts worldwide, Karey applied to attend the conference and was selected. Only 212 participants were chosen from the United States out of 5,600 to share ideas and learn what other teachers from around the world are doing in their classrooms to educate students through technology.

Read the article here.



PSLA Members Selected to Serve on Committees for “Every Student Succeeds Act”

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At a Joint House and Senate Education Committee hearing last month, Secretary Pedro A. Rivera provided lawmakers with the Department of Education’s plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Rivera also assured committee members that the General Assembly would be an important partner in the implementation of ESSA, the plan set forth to replace No Child Left Behind. Allison Burrell and Allison Mackley will be involved in the educator certification and educator evaluation groups, respectively.

School Librarians Transform Learning

Evolution of a Hub of Learning

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Dr. Cosmas Curry (left) and Phil Burrell (right).

In May of 2014, Bloomsburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Cosmas Curry was facing a difficult decision regarding the high school librarian position.

The decision, forced upon him due to the retirement of a long-time librarian, was whether to fill or eliminate the position.  Dr. Curry was struggling with what to do. He was trying to make the wisest decision during an austere budget environment. 

To read the whole story, click here.


Learning with Digital Technologies


The American Association of School Librarians released an infographic that shows how the Internet and digital technologies affect research done by students. With online research increasing, librarians have the chance to teach students how to research quickly, efficiently and correctly thanks to digital tools.

View Larger Infographic Here


“Why are School Libraries Essential?”

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Video: Why are School Libraries Essential?

The New Jersey Association of School Librarians created a video explaining how Internet searches cannot replace the skills and experience of a school librarian. The video describes how studies have proven that school library programs staffed by qualified school librarians have a positive impact on student academic achievement.

See the video here

Educator Effectiveness System Guide

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The University of Pittsburgh and the PA School Librarians Association collaborated to create The School Librarian’s Guide for Success in the PA Department of Education Educator Effectiveness System:  Using The Model Curriculum for PA School Library Programs as a Foundation. The Guide was designed to help all Pennsylvania school librarians prepare for their annual evaluations conducted by their school district administrators under the Educator Effectiveness System (EES) required by the PA Department of Education for the evaluation of all teachers and administrators in the 500 school districts.

View The Full Guide Here


“21st-Century Libraries: The Learning Commons”

computer-station-460_zpss49e3ceeAs libraries advance, so do the methods of finding information. Libraries are reinventing the search to find content through online databases and an environment that enhances the digital age. The future of libraries allows a student the potential to enter a global library through a click of a mouse and brings alive the exploration and creation of the 21st century learning hub.

Read Full Article Here

Back to School

Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera Meets with PSLA’s President Michael Nailor and President-Elect Allison Burrell

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PSLA President-Elect Allison Burrell with Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera at the August Press Club luncheon.

Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera recently met with Pennsylvania School Librarians Association President Michael Nailor and President-Elect Allison Burrell. During the meeting, Michael and Allison were able to discuss with Secretary Rivera the important role that school librarians have in the education of our children. 
Michael and Allison also shared with Secretary Rivera studies that demonstrate having a school librarian improves student test scores. Secretary Rivera said that he appreciates and understands the important job that school librarians have and looks forward to working with PSLA.



“Let’s grab this chance to fix a broken school-funding system”

cd00f711-ee7a-439f-89df-5de710e47be8In her letter to the editor, former school librarian Debra Kachel addresses the need for change in Pennsylvania’s school funding system. She references the fact that PA has the “widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the nation.” Debra calls upon the sate legislature to create a fair formula to fix education funding for public schools, rather than rely on property taxes.

Read the Piece Here



PSLA Study Shows Decline in Librarian Positions


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In a study conducted by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, it was found that Certified School Librarian positions have decreased dramatically in previous years. More positions are being eliminated than added in school districts within the Commonwealth.

View Whole Study Here


School Libraries Today

Senate Education Chairman Lloyd Smucker visits Manheim Township High School Library in Lancaster County

State Senator Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster County, the new Senate Education Committee Chairman, visited the Manheim Township High School Library on May 7, where he interacted with students and observed them conducting research. School librarian, Tod Harach, gave the senator a demonstration of the ACCESS PA database and an overview of the array of educational activities going on in the library. Senator Smucker, who was joined by PSLA President Michael Nailor, saw first hand how today’s libraries are active classrooms.

Senator Smucker

Left: Manheim Township Librarian Tod Harach (left) shows Senator Smucker activities in the high school library. Right: Senator Smucker learns about library research capabilities from a high school student.


‘School Administrator’ Magazine Highlights Role of School Librarians

School AdministratorThe School Superintendents Association magazine, School Administrator, has recognized that school libraries and librarians are essential. The school media center has come a long way from just the sole practice of checking out library books. Mobile County, Alabama public school media centers are now a hub of emerging technologies and a sanctuary for academic tools in research, information and educational support for both students and educators alike.

Learn More


Governor Wolf Talks Libraries in Budget Address

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March 3, 2015 — Governor Tom Wolf mentions school libraries in his Budget Address.

In his first Budget Address, Governor Tom Wolf discussed the need for increased school funding. He specifically pointed out that 56 percent of Pennsylvania students do not have access to a full-time librarian.


The New Generation Of Research

Student Research SkillsWhile the digital age brings information from just a few clicks on a computer, it also brings mixed opinions and a variety of results while tested against a generation engulfed in a world of technology. The Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) communities indulge into how today’s evolving digital environment is shaping research and writing habits of middle and high school students.


The Washington State School Library Impact Study 

How do certified teacher-librarians (CTLs) contribute to the increase of graduation rates, standardized test scores, student achievement and literacy skills? The 2014 Washington State School Library and Information Technology (WSLIT) program survey of public schools indulges into the relationship between quality school library programs staffed by certified teacher-librarians (CTLs) and student achievement.

Read the Study Here