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Behind the Scenes: PSLA Annual Conference

"Behind the Scenes" the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Conference Committee has been working over the past year to bring a quality professional learning and networking experience to you at the 46th PSLA Annual Conference.

This post will not come close to doing justice to the work the entire conference committee completes over the course of the year, so I will share some highlights. Please visit the conference website for more information.

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association annual conference is entirely planned, organized and implemented by volunteers. The president appoints an Executive Director of the Conference for a term of two years with the approval by the board. (Conference Policy) For the past four years, Caitlin Linsenmann has filled this role and worked with Jennifer Bates (2016), Allison Mackley (2017), Cathi Fuhrman (2018) and Robin Burns (2019) as conference co-chairs. Before Caitlin took on the enormous task of planning the conference, Connie Burlingame served as the previous Executive Director of the Conference.

Requests for Proposals and Contracts

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Feedback Wanted for New Library Bill of Rights

 Feedback Wanted for New Library Bill of Rights

The Intellectual Freedom Manual Review Working Group has recommended updating the Library Bill of Rights in a narrow manner to add an Article VII focused on the concept of ensuring privacy and confidentiality for library users. As a result, The Intellectual Freedom Committee would appreciate feedback on this article draft by Dec. 21. Post feedback by using this Google Doc link. The IFC requests that you post comments on the document, rather than edit the document directly. To post a comment, select “Insert” in the top menu, and then click “Comment.” Comments may be posted anonymously or publicly.

Behind the Scenes: Connect & Collaborate

 

“Behind the Scenes” the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Board of Directors, committees and partners want you to be informed. There has been a concerted effort over the past few years to provide varied communication methods to ensure that school librarians across the Commonwealth receive timely and meaningful information.

PSLA Pulse
The PSLA Pulse is the blog of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association.  It highlights the accomplishments of PSLA members, teaching and learning resources, legislative news and a “Behind the Scenes” feature. 

Pennsylvania Key Communicators Network: Network News
The Network News, which is funded by the PSLA LSTA grant, is a collaborative project between the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and the University of Pittsburgh’s School Library Certification Program. Find archived newsletters dating back to the first publication in October 2017. Every school librarian in Pennsylvania should receive the newsletters as they are passed through a regional and district structure. 

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Google Spotlight

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! 

Want some holiday season entertainment? Try getting a VR headset (Google Cardboard is a cheap option) and play Google Spotlight! I have used this as an extension during makerspace time and it is fascinating to watch. Many of the stories are available on YouTube as well.

Description from AASL:

This app puts the reader in the middle of a growing number of virtual reality stories and demonstrates new possibilities for interactive storytelling. Each of the stories is a 360 video experience to be viewed within a VR viewer or on a device or screen. Users are prompted to download a story before reading for easy repeat access. Among the elementary stories are The Windy Day, Buggy Night and Duet. The reader focuses attention on the scene, with the story adjusting and presenting a personalized experience.

Platform: iOS, Android   Grades:Upper Elementary – High School

Submitted by:
Dustin Brackbill
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee

Behind the Scenes: PSLA Legislative & Advocacy Efforts

"Behind the Scenes" the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s officers, board, and committees are working very hard on legislative and advocacy efforts for you. Below are just a few recent efforts. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

National

In March 2019, during the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, TX, I will present on a panel moderated by John Chrastka of Every Library, to discuss ways high-level policy can be introduced nationally. Other panelists include Keith Curry Lance, Kafi Kumasi (Wayne State University), and Azadeh Jamalian (Teachers College Columbia University).

Deb Kachel, PSLA’s Legislative Liaison, is working with unwavering efforts at both the state and national levels to advocate for school librarians. 

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New PSLA Local Affiliate: SCPSLA

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association has local affiliates that advocate for strong library programs, advance information literacy, and provide professional learning.  Regional local affiliates serve in the following ways:

  • Provide a network for continuous communication
  • Serve as a conduit for the flow of information
  • Broaden the base of the profession through the increase of personal and professional memberships

We would like to congratulate our newest PSLA local affiliate!

The South Central Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (SCPSLA), led by Sarah DeMaria of Hempfield School District, grew out of a PSLA Mini Regional Leaders Academy project.

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Corey Hall - ALA Emerging Leader

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association is pleased to announce that Corey Hall, PSLA Communications Co-chair has been selected as one of the 2019 ALA Emerging Leader participants sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2019 Emerging Leaders program. The Emerging Leaders program enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. 

We are proud of Corey and all she does for PSLA, the Manheim Central School District, and school librarians across the Commonwealth.

ALAnews Press Release (November 19, 2018): http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2018/11/corey-hall-selected-2019-aasl-emerging-leader

For more information and a full list of participants visit http://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2018/11/ala-announces-emerging-leader-participants-class-2019 

AASL Best Websites & Apps: EdWeb

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 Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

Looking for useful professional development and ways to connect learning communities? Try edWeb, and you'll never be without ideas!

Description from AASL:

EdWeb is a free anytime-anywhere professional learning network for teachers, librarians, and administrators, offering over seventy-five different learning communities, covering a wide range of innovative topics and practices. The heart of Edweb is its community sponsored webinars, which are timely, engaging, and always archived. Edweb is a go-to source for personalized professional development, offering continuing education certificates, follow up online discussions, free resources, and a support network of like-minded professionals.

Submitted by:
Erin Bechdel
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee

Behind the Scenes - Leadership Academies: PSLA & University of Pittsburgh

“Behind the Scenes” the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) offers its members Leadership Academies in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School Library Certification Program (SLCP). The academies are funded through a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Pennsylvania Department of Education.  The grant application process is an intense time of writing and revision during the summer and early fall, generally under tight timelines. Over the past five (5) years, the leadership academies have supported best practices in teaching and learning, as well as leadership development, for 104 active Pennsylvania school librarians.

Dr. Mary Kay Biagini, Director of the University of Pittsburgh School Library Certification Program, has held the position of Leadership Academy Project Director for each of the academies. She has called upon the expertise of an assistant project director and a steering group, as well as mentors and coaches to support the academies.

2018 – 2019 Grant Cycle

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Knowledge Quest

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 Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

This week we want to highlight a website by the AASL which is chock full of goodness! The Knowledge Quest website is the perfect spot to get bite-sized information to help you in your library. 

 

Recent posts include:

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Behind the Scenes - AASL Takes PSLA Concerns and Commendations to Heart

"Behind the Scenes" the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Board of Directors discuss local, state and national "concerns" and "commendations" to bring to the American Association of School Librarians Affiliate Assembly bi-annual meetings.  What does this mean?

Statement of Concern

Concerns submitted to the AASL Affiliate Assembly from each of the regions across the United States are important communication links between the AASL Board of Directors and school librarians at the front lines. Concerns enable the AASL Board to keep their fingers on the pulse of the profession across the country and develop strategies for the issues facing the profession.

Presenting the concerns at Affiliate Assembly meetings builds awareness and provides an opportunity for input. Affiliate Delegates are able to network, share, and brainstorm strategies at the state and regional levels. This essential and highly effective process makes the association and Affiliates responsive to the needs of the profession and strong advocates of school library programs across the country.

Statement of Commendation
Commendations are similar to Statements of Concern, the difference is Affiliate Assembly Delegates nominate outstanding programs and events deserving of recognition at the national level. Receiving validation and praise at the national level for successful programs or events that follow the mission and principles of AASL is a powerful advocacy tool.
 
Programs or events must align with AASL's guidelines, mission, and principles as expressed in AASL's mission and vision statements. While many individuals are worthy of recognition, Commendations are limited to programs or events.
 
Commendations recognize programs and events outside of the state's school library organization.

Some concerns and commendations do no make it beyond the Affiliate Assembly; however, PSLA presented one commendation and one concern during Allison Burrell's presidency that were successful. 

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Op-Ed Article from PSLA Board Director

Pennsylvania school librarians: be sure to read the inspiring op-ed article in the Reading Eagle by one of our Board Directors, Ann Schmidt.  Ann is the teacher-librarian at Conrad Weiser High School and plays a crucial role in the school's STEAM initiative. 

 

Behind the Scenes - PSLA Mission, Vision & Strategic Priorities

 "Behind the Scenes" the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Board of Directors reviews and updates the PSLA strategic priorities every three to five years to identify critical issues impacting PSLA and its members, as well as the library field, in general.

During the PSLA Summit in July 2018, thirty-four representatives worked with consultant Michael Kumer from Boards Made to Order to review our mission, vision, and strategic priorities.  After a lively and passionate full day of discussion, collaboration and consensus building, we walked away with a framework from which to craft a final document.

The difficult work continued through August and September with eleven volunteers, in a Tier I and Tier II review structure, who brought multiple voices and a broad range of perspectives to finalize the project. 

On October 6th, 2018, the PSLA Board approved the following:

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Reasons to Join PSLA: The Impact of a Professional Organization and the Importance of Legislative Advocacy

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.

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Why Is It Important to Encourage Voting in the 2018 Mid-Term Elections

Why Is It Important to Encourage Voting in the 2018 Mid-Term Elections

 (And What Does that Have to Do with School Libraries)?

October 9 - Deadline to register to vote (new voter) or update your registration (recently moved and need to change your address and polling place). Application Link.

October 30 – Deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for those unable to appear in person at their polling place (college students not living at home, disabled/medical, vacationing or traveling for business, etc.)

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Libby

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 Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

Want to send one final Library Card Sign-Up Month reminder out to folks? Remind them to use Libby for their ebook app needs! 

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Behind the Scenes - PSLA Delegates @ the AASL Affiliate Assembly

"Behind the Scenes" the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association has two voting  Delegates on the Affiliate Assembly of American Association of School Librarians (AASL). We are part of Region 2, which includes PA, NY, NJ, MD, DE and DC. In addition to providing PSLA with a voice at the national level, sending representatives to these meetings provides PSLA added opportunities to apply for grants and awards.

The purpose the the Affiliate Assembly is described below:

According to the AASL Bylaws, “the purposes of the Affiliate Assembly are to provide a channel of communication for reporting concerns of the affiliated organizations and their membership to the AASL Board of Directors; to facilitate discussion of activities and concerns of the AASL as reported by the AASL president, Executive Director and Board of Directors; and to report the actions of the AASL to the Affiliates.”  

Made up of 48 school library organizations from 45 states, the Affiliate Assembly serves as the representation of AASL’s (number) members. Each year, the Affiliate Assembly gathers for two meetings at both ALA Midwinter Meeting and ALA Annual Conference to handle official tasks such as voting on Concerns and Commendations, share best practices and knowledge, and learn about AASL activities and initiatives. 

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Tinkercad

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 Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

As STEAM concepts move into younger grades, this week we feature a way to imagine "from mind to design in minutes" with Tinkercad.

Use Tinkercad’s CAD software to design 3D objects, such as prototypes, toys, practical tools, replacement parts, Minecraft models, jewelry, and more. Users can create objects from scratch with the site’s building blocks, from the extensive collection of community designs, or by importing and modifying 2D or 3D object files. Help and tutorials support beginning users. Teachers of younger students can create invite codes for accounts and monitor student work. Users can share designs in the community and do collaborative work, and designs can be exported for 3D printing. Grades 2 and up. 

Personal Comments (from Dustin): I know that our secondary students have used this software and website for years, but I am excited to try with our elementary students, who clearly are already adept at 3D thinking with Minecraft, Legos, and other virtual worlds.

Submitted by: Anne Bozievich
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee

Behind the Scenes: PSLA and Quantum Communications

"Behind the Scenes" our Association has an ongoing contract with Kevin Harley from Quantum Communications to provide PSLA with counsel on strategic communications and government affairs.

In an effort to support the mission of PSLA and more importantly our members' interests, the PSLA President and President-Elect meet with Kevin through bi-weekly phone conferences to identify targeted areas of need and to strategically communicate with stakeholders. In addition, Kevin strategizes with Deb Kachel, the PSLA Legislative Liaison, and takes part in key meetings of the Association.

Strategic Communications:

Among the activities that Quantum provides are the writing, design and distribution of the quarterly PSLA newsletter. The newsletter is emailed to PSLA members, as well as to all members of the general assembly. It also is sent to school board members, superintendents and principals for whom public emails are available. The purpose of the newsletter is primarily to educate policymakers on the important role that school librarians play in educating our children. Additionally, Quantum helps to write, edit and place op/eds by school librarians and school librarian advocates in newspapers across the state. Quantum also will promote the work of a particular school or librarian to a specific reporter.

Government Affairs:

Quantum helps to promote PSLA’s legislative agenda. An example is the introduction of HB 740, a bill that would require each public school in the state to employ at least one professional librarian. The legislation obtained nearly 40 co- sponsors, which for first-time legislation is outstanding. Quantum also has scheduled and arranged school library visits and tours for key legislators. Among them have been the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, as well as the House Education Chairman. We have a library tour scheduled for the full House Education Committee on October 9 at PSLA President Allison Mackley’s library at Hershey High School. Additionally, Quantum helped to schedule and organize a House Education hearing on the importance of school libraries. Quantum is currently working to gain more support for PSLA’s legislation in the House and, at the same time, getting companion legislation introduced in the Senate.

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Be Internet Awesome!

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 Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

This week, as we begin the year and start making choices for teaching digital citizenship lessons, I selected Google's Be Internet Awesome!

Be Internet Awesome offers elementary school students a path to digital citizenship and a way to become smart and safe users of the Internet. They will enjoy participating in the game Interland, and traversing Reality River, Mindful Mountain, Tower of Treasure, and Kind Kingdom to learn the fundamentals of online ethical use and safety. Additional resources for parents and educators are included. Grades 2-5.

Personal Comments:  This site offers an engaging and easy to navigate world, with lessons that are age appropriate and connected. The Interland is a visually appealing way to practice and discuss online safety, secure content, cyber-bullying, and mindful behavior. No account is needed to start and users can return repeatedly. Problem solving games help keep students motivated, and the mini lessons are presented to inform rather than scare. Explore, and Be Awesome!

Submitted by: Dustin Brackbill
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee
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