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School Librarians at the Center of School Renewal and Transformation

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s Board of Directors has approved a one page document titled “School Librarians at the Center of School Renewal and Transformation” to be used by the association and school librarians in their advocacy efforts. Created by Allison Mackley (@amackley), PSLA Immediate Past-President and endorsed by the PSLA Board, this can be shared widely with stakeholders as we educate them about the value and expertise of school librarians.

Celebrate and Act Now - HB1355

Celebrate and Act Now - HB1355

We now have SIXTY-TWO co-sponsors for HB 1355 - One Certified Librarian Per Public School. This is amazing work that many school librarians have done in talking with and meeting with PA Representatives all over the state. Thanks also to our Local and State Advocacy Committee and Deb Kachel/Co-Chair for the many phone calls, visits, and emails to get this far.  Let's celebrate this accomplishment - but continue to work for more co-sponsors and keep the momentum moving.

If your representative is listed below - Send them an email, make a phone call or schedule a visit to thank them personally. Remind them why this legislation is so important to the students in Pennsylvania.

If your representative isn't listed below - Send them an email, make a phone call or schedule a visit to ask them to become a co-sponsor on the bill. Remind them why this legislation is so important to the students in Pennsylvania.

Resources to help you are found here:

House Bill “One Certified Librarian Per Public School”  (Updated 8/12/19)

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A Profile in Advocacy - Jayne Downing

My path crossed Jayne Downing’s when I attended an APSL meeting years ago to talk about advocacy. APSL was the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians, now defunct since there are approximately only 5 school librarians left in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). Jayne has been a school librarian in several city schools for 34 years at elementary and middle school levels. She earned her MLS from Clarion and is nationally board certified (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards) in both Early Childhood through Young Adult and Library Media (not easy!).

During her time at SDP, Jayne has seen a thriving school library department and program reduced to almost nothing. Years ago, SDP eliminated the classification of “school librarian” and all librarians were classed as “teachers.” This allowed the district to hide the number of actual librarians in the district. As principals, tasked with site-based decision-making, had to make difficult choices among nurses, counselors, and librarians, more and more principals cut school librarian positions, especially as librarians retired. In fact, finding out how many librarians still exist in the district is extremely difficult due to the classification change. The 2017-18 figure in the chart below is an anecdotally gathered number as the district cannot confirm it.

In 2016, when Jayne served as a full-time librarian, Jayne’s school, the Penn Alexander (K-8) School, a K-8 public school for 560 West Philadelphia children, was named a National Blue Ribbon School. Penn Alexander is a partnership school and financially-supported ($1330 per student) by the University of Pennsylvania. In the past two years, however, Jayne’s schedule has been changed to include more reading and English assigned classes, reducing the amount of time the library is accessible to all students.

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School Librarians have a Profound Impact on Students’ Futures

Op-ed: Lancaster Online

School librarians have a profound impact on students’ futures

As a school district library department supervisor, I would love to say that, after 17 years in this position, my district has the perfect school library program. The reality is that our idea of perfection evolves. The needs of our students are constantly changing. So, too, our district’s mission and vision must change to meet the future-ready needs of our students...

Cathi Fuhrman, Ed.D., is library department supervisor for the Hempfield School District. This article was originally presented at a hearing before the state House Education Committee.

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

Op-Ed: PennLive

Even in the iPhone age, school librarians are a vital link to learning

As both the president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) and the K-12 librarian of a rural PA school district, I know how absolutely vital school librarians are to our students' futures...

Allison Burrell is president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and a K-12 librarian in the Southern Columbia Area School District. This op-Ed was originally presented as testimony before the House Education Committee.

Advocacy Plan to Impact Decision Makers

The PSLA Board of Directors continues to be concerned about the support of school library programs by the decision makers. Based on feedback of a stakeholders’ meeting consisting of representatives of Commonwealth Libraries, Pennsylvania PTA, Pennsylvania Library Association, Education Law Center, and members of the House of Representatives, the PSLA Board of Directors is working on a three-year action plan. As part of this plan the Board has approved the following activities for year one of the plan:

  • Begin working on a plan for a public awareness campaign for school library programs for every child in Pennsylvania
  • Create a School Library Coalition
  • Advocate to restore and to increase funding for POWER Library services

The PSLA Legislation Committee will launch the campaign to restore and to increase POWER Library at our annual conference.

To help address the potential of more furloughs or position cuts of professional librarians and the reduction in library funding due to Governor Corbett’s educational budget, the Board created a letter that can be sent to the superintendent of any district that is cutting or eliminating professional staff. The following procedure needs to be followed:

Any librarian from within that district can request this letter by contacting Deb Kachel. The requesting librarian will need to provide the mailing and email address of the Superintendent.  If librarian wishes that a copy of the letter be sent to any other administrator or school board member, please supply the email address.

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