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PSLA Pulse: Awards

The PSLA Awards Committee is thrilled to announce that nominations for PSLA's 2020 Awards are now open! Are you or your colleagues part of an innovative or exceptional Pennsylvania school library? If so, please consider making a nomination or applying for one of PSLA's 2019 awards! We are currently seeking nominees for the following awards:


Outstanding Pennsylvania School Library - This award recognizes outstanding school library programming, instruction, and services which are integral to students' education, and is open to individual schools and/or school districts of any kind or size! Applicants may self nominate. Nomination deadline: June 30th.


PA School Library Innovators - Are you proud of an innovative lesson, program, campaign, or community outreach effort? Please consider applying for PA School Library Innovators! We are looking to recognize Pennsylvania school librarians who demonstrate innovation in school librarianship in one of four target areas: Teaching & Learning, Celebrating Reading, Transformative Environment, or Digital Outreach. Nomination deadline: June 30th.


Find more information about both of these awards, including nomination materials and scoring rubrics, at While you're there you can learn more about our Outstanding Author/Illustrator, Outstanding Administrator, and Distinguished Service awards too! Please contact committee co-chairs Lauren Strohecker and Melissa Janes at [email protected] with any additional questions.


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PSLA Pulse: Librarians' Spotlight

Librarians' Spotlight

So much is happening in PA libraries, and we want to showcase what you are doing! Do you have special programming, an awesome makerspace, a fabulous and favorite lesson, a visiting author, a published article, etc? Please fill out the form below so that we can highlight YOU! You can also highlight other librarians.

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Everyone is Welcome to Join the #PALibChat

Everyone is Welcome to Join the #PALibChat

If you are on Twitter, you may have seen the monthly #PALibChat Twitter Chats.  (Please note that #PALibChat is not formally sponsored by PSLA but is a great way for members and nonmembers to discuss issues.)

If you are not familiar with a Twitter Chat, a moderator asks a few questions about a predetermined topic and followers answer. As you answer, use the #PaLibChat hashtag, and feel free to connect with people who are also chatting. If you aren’t able to make the live chat, you can search the hashtag, read what others shared and add their thoughts.

This year, we’ve discussed the following:

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Microsoft selects Karey Killian as 1st #ChangeMaker

Congratulations to Karey Killian who was selected by Microsoft as the first educator to highlight in their “Changemaker” series!

They brought a video production team to her libraries for two days. Please take a little time to watch the video which highlights what happened to her libraries after she found out that thousands of books were thrown out due to the mold. You’ll love the student responses, smiles, and laughs in this video. Karey thinks it’s important that we take time to highlight the great things happening in our libraries.


If you have the opportunity, please share this with your social networks!

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PSLA Pulse: Spring Updates

We have several items to share with you in today's Pulse.

From the Teaching & Learning Committee

Hopefully you enjoyed your weekend! I often start mine on the drive home with Science Friday through NPR. This website is listed on the AASL Best Websites for good reason! Check it out and get curious!!

Description from AASL:

Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday provides free STEM activities, lessons, and resources for all learners, making science fun for everyone! Science Friday will spark students’ curiosity at a visceral level, on topics from Frankenstein to the La Brea Tar Pits, and from shrinking polar bears to an online rock collection (#neatrocks). There is so much to explore in this child’s world! Science Friday connects digital STEM resources to hands on learning. Some activities in Spanish. Grades 3 and up.

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PA Librarian Nominated as Unsung Hero

PSLA member Ellen Zschunke, librarian and media specialist at the Pine RoadElementarySchool in Huntingdon Valley, PA, has been nominated as an Unsung Hero of Bucks and Montgomery County Public Schools! The Council for the Advancement of Public Schools has nominated Ellen as follows:

This week’s Unsung Hero, Ellen Zschunke is the librarian and media specialist at the Pine RoadElementarySchool in Huntingdon Valley, and co-president of the Lower Moreland Township Education Association. She is beloved by her colleagues and students alike for her sunny personality and positive and down-to-earth approach to work and to life.

Regardless of how much she has scheduled, Ellen is always eager to help colleagues and students, “whether it’s with technology, locating a book, union questions, etc.,” said her nominator, and if she doesn’t know the answer, she’ll find out. She produces a morning television show every day of the week featuring fifth graders and “is just an all-around hero in the ways she handles life and is involved in so much.”

Besides her full-time teaching job, Ellen also coaches diving for Hatboro-Horsham School District and loves to cheer on other teachers and students, whether it’s a district musical, fundraiser, or other after school event. Her nominator added, “I wish I was as cool, calm and collected as she. She’s a rock star!”

With the grant money she’ll receive, Ellen plans to purchase Playaways, MP3 players with pre-loaded books. This format supports English Language Learners, those with learning needs like dyslexia or other print disabilities, and readers looking for a different way to enjoy the printed word. The $1,000 award will fund 16 Playaways. and the $2,000 award will fund 31 of these devices to help all learners access materials in a meaningful way. 

Be sure to view the videos about Ellen and our other Unsung Heroes and vote at the link below. There is no limit to the number of times that you can cast a ballot.


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Joyce Valenza receives AASL Distinguished Service Award

Joyce Valenza receives AASL Distinguished Service Award

CHICAGO – Joyce Valenza, assistant teaching professor of library and information science at Rutgers University, is the recipient of the 2019 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Distinguished Service Award. Sponsored by The Rosen Publishing Group, the $3,000 award recognizes an individual member of the library profession who has, over a significant period, made an outstanding national contribution to school librarianship and school library development.

After teaching for over two decades at Springfield Township (Pennsylvania) High School library, Valenza joined the faculty at Rutgers University’s Library and Information Science Department. In that capacity, she advises students on research projects that promote a better understanding of the impact of high-performing library programs on student learning. 

“Her scholarly contribution is enormous,” Ross Todd wrote in his letter of endorsement. “To date she has published 5 books, 10+ peer-reviewed papers, 9+ book chapters, 60+ articles in professional journals. This represents a distinguished level of leadership through scholarly work.”

“Joyce possesses encyclopedic knowledge of the research in our field,” wrote Michelle Luhtala in her nomination. “I stealthily take notes of names, studies, and publications she mentions in conversation knowing that if it is on her radar, it is worth reading. Among her many, many areas of expertise are literacies. Joyce examines, reexamines, rethinks, reframes these as our roles and affiliated technologies evolve.”

Valenza has served on AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning Committee and AASL’s Community of Scholars Task Force.  In 2017, Valenza was recognized as an inaugural AASL Social Media Superstar: Leadership Luminary.

“The common remark that our committee shared was that Joyce was future ready before' ‘future ready librarian,’” said Liz Deskins, award committee chair “She has been sharing, leading, encouraging, and challenging thousands of school librarians to keep striving to stay current and try new things. We thank you for all you’ve taught us, Joyce.”

The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony during the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. All are welcome to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers during this recognition event.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.

Creating a Culture of Collaboration: Strategies for Building Partnerships

Creating a Culture of Collaboration: Strategies for Building Partnerships 
Register Here

Thursday, April 25, 2019, 3 PM Central Time/4 PM Eastern Time

Presented by:
Ellen Stolarski, Librarian St. Marys Area Middle School St. Marys, Pennsylvania
Nancy Jo Lambert, Teacher-Librarian Reedy High School Frisco, TX
Jennifer Casa-Todd, Teacher-Librarian, Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Linda Dougherty, School Librarian & Ed Tech Consultant, St. Louis, Missouri

Webinar Description: 
This webinar will provide a variety of strategies for working with library stakeholders, with a focus on ways to build connections in terms of research and information literacy skills. This webinar will be presented by our 2018 ISTELib PLN Secondary award winner Ellen Stolarski.

Presenter Bio:
Ellen Stolarski is a librarian at a rural school library in Pennsylvania. As a librarian, she works to promote collaboration, technology,  a love of reading, and information literacy skills in her school.  She has participated in several programs outside of her library including PSLA's Emerging Leader Program (2014-15) and ILEADUSA (2016). She is also the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award committee. She is a Microsoft Innovative Education Expert and was awarded the ISTE Librarians Network PLN Secondary award in 2018.

aH2BNIZnQVmnXifclt8h_ISTE Webinar graphic Ellen Stolarski.png

Conference Meeting Materials

Advisory Council Luncheon Meeting: March 29, 2019

Advisory Council Minutes - 7/11/2018

Business Meeting: March 30, 2019

Business Meeting Agenda

Business Meeting Minutes

Annual Financial Report

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Get to Know the PSLA Board!

President: Allison Mackley 

School District & Position: Derry Township School District - NBCT Librarian and K-12 Library Department Chair

Book Currently Reading:  Dare to Lead - Brene Brown and The Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer

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ALA/AASL Elections 2019

The ALA election is now open!  #castyourvote

Check your email for your ballot. You may cast your vote through April 3, 2019, 11:59 PM Central time. Be sure to check off your fellow AASL candidates for ALA Council!   

Two PSLA members are also on the ballot.  

  • Allison Mackley, PSLA President, AASL Region 2 Director
  • Joyce Valenza, ALA Council

AASL Best Websites & Highlights: Classcraft

Each week the Teaching and Learning Committee plans to highlight one app or website from either the 2018 AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning or the 2018 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and LearningShare with any stakeholders who may benefit! 
Ready for some gamification activities this spring? Want a new, fun way to reinforce positive behavior? Feeling heroic?! Have we got the website for you!
Description from AASL:
Classcraft transforms classrooms through avatars, gamification, and creating immersive play that promotes self-actualization, engagement, and collaboration for students. Teachers can reshape lessons into quests in which students choose their own adventure or work as collaborative teams that build positive classroom culture. Classcraft offers a wide range of features to continually keep the game(s) fresh, including a random selector for elements of surprise, a timer/countdown, random events added to the story, a live volume meter, boss battles for formative assessments, and a grade converter to make points earned meaningful. Full integration with both Google & Microsoft Classroom and compatibility across platforms as well as extensive teacher resources make this site an educator’s and student’s technology dream. Basic account is free with fee subscriptions for advanced settings. Grades 4 and up.


Hello PSLA Members!

On February 20, Rep. Mark Longietti (D, serving part of Mercer County) and Rep. Thomas Murt (R, serving parts of serving Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties) proposed a new House bill that would ensure a certified school librarian in every public school. On February 25, Sen. John Blake (D- serving Lackawanna, and parts of Luzerne and Monroe Counties) proposed a complementary bill in the Senate. At this time, the bills have not yet been numbered. However, this period is a critical time when co-sponsors are being sought to sign the bills in both chambers.

Now is the time to contact your legislators!

Go to and type in your home address to find your PA House and Senate legislators. Click on his/her name, locate their email form, and copy the following text to them.

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STEM/Makerspace at the PSLA Conference

Diversity by Design

Are you registered for the PSLA Conference? Starting to plan your agenda for the 2019 PSLA Conference? Check out these awesome workshop sessions related to Makerspaces/STEM! Coming soon information about Makerspace activities in the Exhibit Hall!

  • STEAM Success in the K-6 Library Media Center ~ Have you jumped on the STEAM engine in your library? Two units will be presented for K-3 and 4-6, as well as other STEAM activities, storytime STEM, and this session allows for hands-on participation.  Presented by Cindy Rizzolino, Nazareth Area School District  

  • Pairing Diverse Books with Hands-on STEM Activities ~An elementary teacher librarian and museum educator from the Franklin Institute will help you uncover how integrating STEM activities with favorite multiculturally diverse children’s books can broaden access to STEM/Literacy for students. This session provides attendees with ideas and strategies for classrooms and libraries.  Presented by Eva Thomas, Pocopson Elementary School

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Engaging Congress

Presidents Day is here, but as we have re-learned lately, Congress holds plenty of power and important decisions as well! Watch videos, explore primary documents, and practice with real-world challenges in this free and invaluable app!
Description from AASL:

Engaging Congress is a fun, interactive game that uses primary source documents to explore the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges they face in contemporary society.

Platform: iOS, Android   Grades: Middle School


Save Librarians/Libraries in Philly: Sign the Petition

Please sign the following petition to encourage Philadelphia leaders to reinstate school libraries and librarians for the School District of Philadelphia. And then please share the email with your friends and colleagues plus push it out on social media. EveryLibrary (also the creator of is working with PSLA and others to help us get legislation in PA to require public schools to employ certified school librarians. Let’s show them that we can rally local support! Come on! You probably are having a snow day anyway!  More importantly, we need to stand together so that ALL K-12 students have school libraries and certified librarians!

P.S. This is a legitimate site. There will be an opportunity to donate to EveryLibrary after you sign the petition, but you do not have to donate. EveryLibrary is a non-profit but your donations are not tax-deductible as they are used for legislative advocacy work.


Our students aren't getting the quality education that they deserve! Please sign this petition to help us fight back!

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Announcing the 2019 PSLA Presidential Award Winners!

The PSLA Board of Directors is happy to announce the winners of our 2019 Pennsylvania School Librarians Presidential Award! We hope you will join us in celebrating their contributions to the school library profession at the Awards Breakfast on Friday, March 29that PSLA’s Annual Conference.

Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Presidential Award – Senator John P. Blake

Senator John Blake has provided ongoing support and leadership in his commitment to public education. Senator Blake introduced Senate Bill 1269 in an effort to maintain strong school library programs across the state of Pennsylvania staffed by certified school librarians.  According to his website, “Senator John Blake’s aspiration for a seat in the Senate of Pennsylvania was motivated by his determination to help and serve others – in his hometown, his region and across the state – in achieving a better quality of life. Senator Blake works very hard every day reflecting the sensibilities, the wishes and the opinions of the people he represents. He is very deliberative and careful in rendering judgment on public policy issues affecting the people of Pennsylvania and the constituents of the 22nd District. Senator Blake’s education, experience and local roots inform and guide his beliefs about the value of public service and the significant, profound duties and responsibilities of holding public office


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Announcing PSLA’s 2019 Award Winners!

Announcing PSLA’s 2019 Award Winners!

 The PSLA Awards Committee is thrilled to announce the winners of our 2019 slate of awards! We hope you will join us in celebrating their contributions at the Awards Breakfast on Friday, March 29that PSLA’s Annual Conference. Deepest congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!

 Outstanding Pennsylvania Author – Jewell Parker Rhodes

 Born in the Pittsburgh area and an alum of Carnegie-Mellon University, Jewell Parker Rhodes has strong ties to Pennsylvania and has authored a compelling body of work for young readers. Her books, including Ninth WardSugarBayou MagicTowers Falling, and Ghost Boys, have received numerous awards and recognitions, and challenge readers to contemplate and grapple with issues related to current and historical events, identity and adolescence, social justice, resilience, family, and more. She is a powerful storyteller and an important voice in literature for children and young adults, and we are thrilled to recognize her as our 2019 Outstanding Pennsylvania Author!

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#PALIBCHAT: 2/13/19

Twitter Chat

PSLA Membership Profile Picture Contest

Let’s Connect!  

Sometimes we know faces from the conference, sometimes we know names from the listserv.  Let’s connect names and faces!  

From now until March 1, anyone that has a picture (actual picture of oneself or a Bitmoji in the likeness of oneself) in their PSLA website profile will be entered into a contest for a $25 Amazon gift card.  

Take time now to update your picture and your contact information!  We will announce the winners via the PSLA Facebook page.