The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA)  represents the interests of its members through collegial networking, professional development, and intensive advocacy efforts to ensure that all Pennsylvania students and teachers have access to an effective school library program with appropriately trained staff as stated in the American Association of School Librarians’ position statements. To that end, PSLA recently endorsed the library staffing certification guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) that state that school districts “must employ at least one certified Library Science educator when providing a school library program.”

Using nationally required data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Keith Curry Lance (2018, March) found that between 2009-10 and 2015-16, Pennsylvania ranked 6th among the states that lost the largest numbers of school librarians (p. 37). Although PDE publishes staffing guidelines, staffing decisions are controlled by local school districts and their boards. Local control, unfortunately, has caused vast inequities across the 500 Pennsylvania school districts in terms of access to effective school library programs with certified librarians. According to PSLA’s 2017-18 staffing survey, 22 districts in Pennsylvania no longer employ school librarians and 115 district have only one librarian for the entire district. These districts represent 27% of all Pennsylvania school districts—a statistic that increases each year as librarian positions are eliminated.

Since the recession, PSLA has intensified its engagement and prioritized legislative advocacy to staunch the loss of school libraries and librarians. The PA General Assembly is the largest, full-time state legislature in the nation with 203 Representatives and 50 Senators. Therefore, educating these decision makers is an enormous and ongoing job, especially as legislators change with elections and redistricting.

Large, professional organizations that care about education, such as PSEA and PaPTA, carry a great deal of influence due to the size of their membership, particularly with state legislators who control school funding. It is critical that PSLA maintains a robust membership in order to advocate for school library programs. It is understandable, however, that school librarians want to be sure that their PSLA dues are making a difference and they are getting a return for their membership dollars. The following outlines PSLA accomplishments and the many resources it provides. Member participation and dues enable this work.