Donegal High School Library Hosts Rep. Hickernell



On December 14, Sara Frazier, librarian at Donegal High School (Mount Joy, PA), hosted a visit by Pennsylvania state Representative Dave Hickernell, a Republican serving parts of Lancaster and Dauphin counties who is also the Chair of the PA House Education Committee. Also attending were Cathi Fuhrman, PSLA Vice President, and Kevin Harley, PSLA’s communication strategist from Quantum Communications who helped to schedule the visit. Donegal’s Superintendent, Michael Lausch also visited with the Representative in the library. During the hour-long visit, Rep. Hickernell was most impressed with the technology in use in the library and how instruction is embedded in the school’s curriculum. He watched Sara teach a lesson on using Gale databases as part of a social studies unit. Sara reported that Rep. Hickernell seemed very impressed with what a school library offers to the school’s students in this small, middle-income, rural community which he represents.

The Donegal Library Program is well supported by its administrators. Each of its four schools has a full-time librarian with library assistants. In recent years, the high school library received a grant plus district money to refresh the look of the high school library to make a more inviting atmosphere for its teenagers. Sara, a “graduate” of the PSLA-University of Pittsburgh Sustaining Leaders Academy, is a strong school library advocate, maintains a nicely designed LibGuide website (, and is actively engaged in the instructional program at Donegal. Watch the short video “A Typical Day in the Library” on the library website.

Cathi Fuhrman, the Library Department Supervisor at neighboring Hempfield School District, participated in the visit to talk with Rep. Hickernell about HB 740, the bill currently in the PA House Education Committee that would require a certified school librarian in every public school. While Rep. Hickernell was impressed with what Donegal students have, he asked if this was a typical school library program. Cathi explained it was not and that many Pennsylvania schools lack even a school library, much less a school librarian to teach them. Explaining how essential a school librarian is in teaching information and digital citizenship, Cathi emphasized that there is a huge “access gap” in Pennsylvania between the “have” and “have-not” schools.  

Often school librarians are hesitant to invite their state legislators to their libraries, but as Sara confirmed, most legislators only think of our school libraries as book-checkout centers and still have the stereotypical perception of a school librarian. That image can only be erased by an actual visit where legislators can see what is happening in our libraries. In this case seeing is believing and much more powerful than even a well–written email or legislative office visit.

Cathi reiterated that school librarians need to ask their legislators to visit their schools, whether they have well-supported programs like Sara’s or not. Upcoming events like National Library Week, School Library Month, and Read Across America are prime opportunities, and allow librarians a venue to talk about school library inequities for students. We often try to hide the fact that some students don’t have the same educational resources as others under the guise of “bad PR,” but in this case you are only advocating for what your students need and deserve. Be that advocate and tell your legislators what you could do if Pennsylvania’s Certification Staffing Policy # 48 Library Science would be honored in each school and HB 740 was passed.

For more info on HB 740 and scheduling a legislator visit, go to

For advice and assistance in scheduling a legislator visit, feel free to contact Deb Kachel, PSLA Legislative Liaison, [email protected] or Kevin Harley [email protected].

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