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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Teaching & Learning Committee Survey

Hello everyone!
PSLA and the Teaching & Learning committee need to hear from you! 
We opened a survey during the annual conference to hear about your professional development needs and skills. If you haven't replied yet, please spend a few minutes to respond. This survey can guide our offerings over the next year and help meet the needs of our membership.
Thank you for your time!!

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

AASL Best Websites & Highlights: Typito

The Teaching and Learning Committee plans to frequently highlight one app or website from the AASL Standards Site. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit!
Looking for a quick marketing tool to make videos? Try Typito for student projects, teacher promos, book trailers and more! I made a practice one in just a few minutes!

2019 PSLA Business Meeting

2019 PSLA Business Meeting at the Annual Conference

Meeting Documents 

Click to view the documents: 2019 Google Folder


Advisory Council Luncheon Meeting: March 29, 2019

Advisory Council Agenda

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Behind the Scenes: PSLA Awarded AASL Affiliate of the Year

“Behind the Scenes” Allison Mackley, Cathi Fuhrman, Operations (Aimee Emerson, Vickie Saltzer, Bob McConnell) and Communications (Mary Schwander, Laura Ward, Corey Hall) wrote and submitted an application for the AASL Affiliate of the Year Award.  On Wednesday, March 27th, I was notified that PSLA is receiving this recognition.
The AASL Affiliate of the Year Award recognizes the AASL Affiliate most active and dynamic in achieving the goals of AASL at the state and local level. AASL established this award to acknowledge the important contributions made by AASL Affiliates and encourage affiliates to take pride in their accomplishments. Through this recognition, AASL encourages educational growth, increased involvement at the national level and community, and legislative involvement.

 It is exciting to see such an engaged, active and exemplary affiliate. - Kathryn Roots Lewis, AASL President

The award will be presented at the American Library Association’s 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. during the AASL Awards Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 22nd from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  If you are attending the ALA, please be sure to attend the ceremony to help us celebrate!

Ever Curious,
Allison Mackley
President, PSLA (PA School Librarians Association)
National Board Certified Teacher Librarian
Hershey High School
550 Homestead Road
Hershey, PA  17033
[email protected]

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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Behind the Scenes: PSLA Awarded the AASL Past-Presidents Planning Grant

“Behind the Scenes” Allison Mackley, Cathi Fuhrman, Deb Kachel, and the PSLA Teaching and Learning Committee Co-chairs, Dustin Brackbill and Leah Lindemann, wrote and submitted an application for one of three AASL Past-Presidents Planning Grant for National School Library Standards. Last week I was notified that we were awarded the grant in honor of E. Blanche Woolls (sponsored by Roger and Susan D. Ballard). E. Blanche Woolls, a Distinguished Service Award winning member of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, was the Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair (1977-1978) and the Communications Committee Chair (1986-1988). See her bio below.

The AASL Past-President Planning Grant for National School Library Standards will provide the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) with the funding necessary to develop, market and carry out professional learning initiatives that support school librarians as they implement best practices that impact academic achievement for learners. PSLA is dedicated to transforming teaching and learning not only through quality school library programs but also by leveraging the AASL National School Library Standards for local advocacy efforts.

“This prestigious award showcases the impact of strong school library programs in schools and highlights the importance of the school library program in the educational community.”  - Kathryn Roots Lewis, AASL President, and Susan Yutzey, 2018-2019 AASL Awards Chair

The award will be presented at the American Library Association’s 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. during the AASL Awards Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 22nd from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  If you are attending the ALA, please be sure to attend the ceremony to help us celebrate!

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See What Authors will be at the PSLA Conference!

More information on the Conference Website 

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