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

During the current grant cycle, there are three (3) leadership academies with very distinct purposes.

            Developing Leaders Academy (DLP)

This year-long academy will support 18 librarians in rural and urban areas of Pennsylvania, who are either the sole librarians for K-12 services or serve multiple schools and/or who have been unable to participate in professional learning at the state level. Applicants will be chosen based on a rubric reviewed by the Leadership Academy Steering Group.

Coming Soon: Look for announcements to apply for the Developing Leaders Academy on the PSLA website, PSLA listserv, SCHOOLS listserv and in the News for PA School Librarians.

            Aspiring Association Leaders Academy (AALA)

The Aspiring Association Leaders Academy will be a mini-academy of 10 – 12 librarians who aspire to leadership within PSLA and PSLA affiliate associations. The emphasis of the Academy will be organizing additional PSLA affiliate associations across Pennsylvania and interning with PSLA committees/board and/or affiliate officers. Participants were chosen by the Leadership Academy Steering Group.

            Revitalizing Leaders Academy (RVLA)

This mini academy will include participants who attended one of the first four Academies for a total of 12 – 16 librarians. The focus will center on updating and refining targeted competencies to advance to the next level of excellence for their libraries and their own professional development.

Funding Breakdown

The 2018 – 2019 LSTA grant award is $73,999 for three initiatives: PA Communicator’s Network, Leadership Academies, and Regional AASL Standards Trainings (Level 1 & Level 2). The funding breakdown below provides percentages in each budget category.

  • Salaries (Project Director and Assistant Project Director) – 53.5%
  • Travel (Meeting Space, Meals, Lodging, Mileage, Tolls) – 33%
  • Professional and Technical Services (Steering Group Trainer/Consulting Fees) – 3%
  • Indirect Cost (Funds Directed to University of Pittsburgh Video Conferencing, Services, etc.) – 9%
  • Supplies (Meeting Supplies, Notebooks, Printing) – 1.4%

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association also provides funding in a variety of ways to support the grant activities including, but not limited to meeting rooms and breakfast during the annual Summit, printing and (this year) the AASL Standards training materials.

History of Leadership Academies – Past Five Years


PSLA and the University of Pittsburgh School Library Certification Program were proud to launch the Emerging Leaders Academy for PA School Librarians (ELA).  This inaugural Academy to twenty-one (21) promising PA school librarian in the early years of their career.  The Academy emphasized building, strengthening and polishing each individual’s leadership competencies.

2015 - 2016

Building upon the success of the first Academy, the Emerging Leaders Academy 2 (ELA2) provided mentorship and coaching for twenty-two (22) participants who were selected through a competitive application process. Emerging Leaders took part in an orientation immersion, as well as a series of competency-building exercises conducted each month from August 2015 – April 2016. ELA 2 culminated with presentations at the PSLA Annual Conference.

2016 - 2017

During this grant cycle, twenty-five (25) mid-career librarians participated in the Sustaining Leaders Academy (SLA) to renew, strengthen and polish individual leadership competencies. Through face-to-face and virtual experiences, participants explored leadership styles and actual skill-sets and strengths to develop and reflect upon a realistic plan for continued professional development. The SLA culminated in a presentation at the PSLA Annual Conference.

2017 – 2018

2017-2018 brought on the Regional Leaders Academy (RLA) which offered an innovative, immersive professional development experience designed to strengthen and support librarians across three Pennsylvania regions (East, Central, and West). These leaders were competitively selected to launch PA Key Communicators Network to ensure that ALL  librarians across Pennsylvania received essential information about PSLA activities and the professional as a whole. The RLA culminated in a presentation at the PSLA Annual Conference and continued work on the Communicators Network.

Visit the PSLA “Leadership Academies” webpage to learn more.

Ever Curious,

Allison Mackley
President, PSLA (PA School Librarians Association)
National Board Certified Teacher Librarian
Hershey High School
550 Homestead Road
Hershey, PA  17033
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