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A blog about our members and their experience in PaLA


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Top tags: Aaron Dobbs  Chris Snyder  Dana Barber  Elizabeth Davis  Janis Stubbs  Josh Berk  Kelly Clever  Marcia Stiller  Marguerite Dube  Melissa Rowse  Membership  Sheli Pratt-McHugh  Susan Jefferey 

Meet Rebecca Dzikowski - Northeast Chapter, Pennsylvania Library Association Volunteer

Posted By Susan Wertz, Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Rebecca Dzikowski
Northeast Chapter, Pennsylvania Library Association Volunteer
, Member of both Membership and Mentorship Committees


What was the last five-star book you read?

I’m still in the process of reading Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory,” but I think I can safely give it a five-star rating already! I’m mostly listening to it through Audible on my walks around the neighborhood, and it provides plenty of food for thought.

 How have libraries impacted your life?

Libraries, and of course, books, have always been hugely important to me. I started life as a regular story-time attender at my local public library, where I later worked as a page throughout high school. After studying literature in college, it was a natural progression to go to library school for my MLIS. Since then, I’ve loved providing reference services and now, cataloging at the University of Scranton. Libraries are the best!

What activities or hobbies are you enjoying during this time?

As I mentioned, I’ve started taking more walks, even digging out the old pedometer to see if I can make 10,000 steps per day. Sometimes one of my children comes with me, and we’ve had some great conversations while we explore new paths-literally! We just found a path through the woods behind our house that leads to a local park. We’ve lived here for three years and never known it was there!

 We’re also eating scandalous amounts of ice cream. Somehow it has become a routine that, when my husband and I go shopping once per week, we bring back new flavors for the family to try. I can’t imagine what would happen here at home if we forgot the weekly ice cream supply! It’s been a fun distraction.

How did you first get involved in PaLA? Did you receive encouragement from anyone in particular?

I’m a fairly new member. The former Dean of our library, Charles Kratz, encouraged me to join in the fall of 2018 and referred me to Sheli Pratt-McHugh. Sheli walked me through the membership process and recommended that I take advantage of PaLA’s mentorship program. I participated as a mentee last year and had a great experience. This past fall, Sheli invited me to join the mentorship committee (which is a subcommittee of the membership committee). My supervisor, Marleen Cloutier, is the current chair of the Northeast Chapter and encourages me to be as active as possible in PaLA. I am already seeing the ways in which my membership benefits me, as I make connections with other librarians across the state and learn from them. I hope to become more involved as time goes on!

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Meet Dana Barber - Southeast (SEPLA) Chapter, Membership Chair

Posted By Susan Wertz, Monday, June 1, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Dana Barber, Southeast (SEPLA) Chapter, Membership Chair



What are some silver linings you have discovered during this time?

One of my favorite things about being home during the pandemic is having time with my family. In addition to taking walks and bike rides, we have been binge watching The Goldbergs, which is guaranteed to bring us all some much-needed laughter and levity.

How are you staying sane during social distancing?

I think it’s questionable as to whether I am staying sane at this point during the stay-at-home order. It’s definitely been a struggle trying to keep my two school age daughters on point with their schoolwork while simultaneously working with library staff to pivot our services from in-person to virtual. That being said, it’s been rewarding as well. I am more involved with my children’s daily school lessons and it’s great to see them interact with their school mates and teachers during virtual lessons. In addition, I am constantly blown away by the creativity of my coworkers and others in the library field during this time. We have risen to the challenge and I have never been so proud to be part of the library community.

What advice do you have to give others who may be struggling?

Personally, I find staying busy keeps me distracted from the daily pandemic updates. I try to focus on what I can control instead. I think that is key to maintaining your sanity - along with going easy on yourself. Take frequent breaks and practice self-care! Personally, I have found a fun way to de-stress and exercise by having regular dance parties with Ryan Heffington (@ryan.heffington) on Instagram. I highly recommend checking it out!

What activities or hobbies are you enjoying during this time?

I am excited to go back to knitting since I have been home. I never seem to have time during a regular work week and then my family is always so busy with activities on weekends. While home, I have knitted several sweaters for myself and family, taught my oldest to knit, and have even attended weekly virtual knitting and crocheting nights hosted by my library. This creative outlet combined with the social aspect of meetup with other knitters has been a great stress reliever.

How did you first get involved in Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA)? Did you receive encouragement from anyone in particular?

I originally started attending SEPLA (South East Chapter) meetings at the suggestion of the previous Library Director at the Grundy Library. Her mentorship and support throughout the early part of my career helped to solidify my continued involvement in the association at both the chapter and state level

How has your Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) membership helped you?

My involvement in PaLA has connected me with a variety of opportunities to develop my leadership skills and to build my professional network. As a participant in both the PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS) as well as the Office of Commonwealth Libraries Director’s Institute and a regular attendee at the PaLA Annual Conference and the SEPLA Annual Conference, I have learned first hand the value of membership. It has not only assisted me in staying current and informed about the latest news and developments in the library field, but it has also helped me foster lasting friendships and professional relationships with colleagues across the state. Such connections have helped guide me through difficult points in my career serving as much needed sounding boards, pillars of support, and fonts of knowledge, and respected advisors. Having this professional network has been a saving grace especially during times of adversity as when dealing with budget cuts or the current pandemic.

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Meet Emily Reed - Mentoring Subcommittee Program Chair

Posted By Susan Wertz, Monday, May 25, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Emily Reed, PaLA Volunteer:

Mentoring Subcommittee Program Chair; Membership Committee Member; College and Research Division Tech Coordinator; Teaching, Learning & Technology Round Table Planning Committee Member

What is your favorite movie or TV show?

My favorite TV show is Survivor on CBS. I absolutely love watching the social dynamics at play while information is the most valuable commodity. Watching how players decide to either be forthcoming with information or hide it is so fascinating to me!

What is your preferred caffeinated beverage, and how much of it do you drink each day?

I start my day with a cup of coffee and lots of water. When I was still commuting to work pre-COVID, I would also bring along a thermos of either Lady Grey tea or Irish Breakfast tea. I’ve been using the time working from home to decrease my caffeine intake and am only drinking one cup of coffee each day.

Tell us about your journey to working in libraries.

I got my start in public libraries at the Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg the summer after graduating college with my bachelor’s degree in music education. I absolutely loved my time working at Simpson! I got experience working the front-lines at the main circulation desk and in the children’s library. I also got to be a substitute for leading children’s programs occasionally like various story times and toddler times.

Working at Simpson led to my first full time work in libraries - I was made aware of an opening at a local elementary school library that was looking for a full time library aide. So my first full time job in libraries was working in an elementary school library . . . which I also loved! I learned a lot about collection development, how to process and catalog physical books, and how to work with teachers. What I loved most about this job was that I got to know every student at the school.

At this point, I knew that my future was in libraries, so I began pursuing my MLIS. Once I graduated, I started applying for professional jobs, and ended up transitioning to academic libraries. I now work at Penn State Harrisburg as a reference and instruction librarian and am absolutely loving everything about my job!

How are you staying productive and motivated to work from home?

I’m doing my best to work outside when it’s sunny and warm (it hasn’t been too sunny or warm in the Harrisburg region lately, unfortunately). I also try to make sure I have a quiet work environment so that I can focus on the task at hand and not get distracted.

What activities or hobbies are you enjoying during this time?

I’m actually getting back into reading for fun again! I haven’t done too much reading unrelated to work over the past few years; I’m taking advantage of my Libby account and getting some reading done from home. I’m also part of a couple online book clubs which have provided me with some good reading material. I’m currently reading The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

What was the first PaLA division, committee, or round table you joined in a leadership capacity?

My first leadership position with PaLA was as a member of the Teaching, Learning & Technology Round Table Planning Committee. I chaired this round table in 2018.

What advice would you give to new members, or someone considering membership?

My advice would be to plan some goals for yourself, and see how membership in PaLA could play into those goals. Goals could include professional service, networking, professional development, seeking employment, gaining access to local library-related information, etc. Membership in PaLA would help with any of those goals!

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Meet Sheli Pratt-McHugh - 3rd VP, Membership Chair

Posted By Christi Buker, Friday, May 8, 2020
Updated: Friday, May 8, 2020


Meet Sheli Pratt-McHugh

3rd Vice President, Membership Committee Chair, PaLA


What was the last five-star book you read?

I recently read Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House and loved it so much! I immediately read her book Commonwealth and also loved that! I love how she weaves family stories together over generations, with insight and care for each character.

 What is your preferred caffeinated beverage, and how much of it do you drink each day?

I am a coffee-addict! I had really reduced my intake a few years ago and was only having 2 cups a day...till the pandemic and now I probably have 3 or 4...maybe more! I remember when I was first dating my husband and my BFF told him to give me coffee every two hours to keep me happy. I think I’m getting back to that point.

What activities or hobbies are you enjoying during this time?

I’m keeping up with my running. Though I normally run with a group, I’m venturing out solo and that’s hard. My group shared a schedule, so at least we are doing the same workouts even if we’re not together. Having my running friends to check in with each week really helps to stay motivated!

 I’ve also been cooking a lot more! My parents have made some videos for me so I can learn how to make their recipes myself. I made a batch of homemade dough, from that I made spaghetti, fettuccine, manicotti, and farfalle. My family only knows how to cook in bulk, so that’s a useful skill to have right now. My daughter helped make the farfalle (butterfly) pasta. It’s been fun to share new experiences with her!

How did you first get involved in PaLA? Did you receive encouragement from anyone in particular?

My first supervisor at my old library, Scott Thomas at Scranton Public Library, encouraged me to join PaLA. He was supportive with time from my desk to attend chapter events and meetings. I quickly became involved on the chapter level and served with colleagues from SPL and around my region. I then served on the Technical Services Round-Table and made connections in my field of librarianship as well.

How has your PaLA membership helped you?

I was a member of the inaugural PALS cohort where I learned about leadership skills and styles and made connections that I maintain to this day. Shortly after that experience (and partially due to that experience to some extent) I made the switch from public to academic librarianship and PaLA was integral in my success with the tenure and promotion process. I fulfilled service to my profession through serving on PaLA Committees and boards; I shared my research at PaLA workshops and conferences; I learned from my PaLA colleagues improving my knowledge of librarianship, and honing my speaking and writing skills. The impact on my work is truly innumerable!

 PaLA has also helped me in dealing with the current state of the world. I have used the resources provided by the association to find out what other libraries are doing to stay healthy, provide services, and share accurate reliable information. I also relied on my PaLA colleagues to provide advice, solace, and laughter during this time. I’m so grateful for the friendships and connections to get through this crisis and I know we are stronger together because of the association.


Tags:  Membership  Sheli Pratt-McHugh 

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Meet Aaron Dobbs, PaLA Teaching, Learning & Technology Round Table Chair

Posted By Aaron Dobbs, Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I joined PaLA in 2014 (or was it 2013?), seven or eight years after moving to Pennsylvania for a library job. I had been heavily involved in the Tennessee Library Association and was (still am) crazy-active nationally in ALA. I’m sure there was some lame excuse for not joining when I got here, I have no idea what it was, but now that I am a member (an active member, of course) I really wish I’d joined from day one.

     Why get involved at the state level?

That’s easy: everything is local, results can be seen more quickly, and all politics start at the local level.

     How did I become involved in libraries?

That’s a long convoluted tale: Mom brought me to our excellent town library as a wee bairn… My active involvement starts with receiving help from a girl-friend who worked at Storrs Library in high school, continues with a girlfriend who worked in the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library in college; it dips into improbability when a truck driver & NYC nightclub bouncer (me) gets a job at the NYPL Research Libraries (page in the stacks, library assistant 1 in Manuscripts and Archives, library assistant 3 in the Office of Special Collections), discovered for myself that working in libraries is COOL, and applies (and gets) a teaching assistant position at a library school in Tennessee where I met my wife; and then wends its way through public libraries (Brooklyn NY & Chattanooga TN), special libraries (SunTrust Equitable Securities Investment Banking Group), and into academic libraries (Austin Peay State University (TN) & now Shippensburg University. There are a terrifying number of stories along that path, most many some of which are even believable.

•     What sort of interesting, yet improbable, info is available about me?

Well: [redacted, it’s too soon], [redacted, to protect the identities of the innocent], I’ve served on ALA Council since just after I moved to PA (2007), and I have physically crossed into and out of more than half the counties of the United States at least once – depending on which of my Rand McNally atlases I reference, I have either one or five PA counties to go: Elk, Forest, McKean, Sullivan, & Warren.

Tags:  Aaron Dobbs 

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Meet Susan Jeffery, Library Director and PaLA Member

Posted By Susan Jefferey, Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My name is Susan Jeffery, and I am the Library Director at North Pocono Public Library in Moscow, PA.

  • I have been the director of the North Pocono Public Library for 7+ years and during that time, we raised funds and built a beautiful, new 8,400 sq. foot library. Our library has a unique Reading Tree and a 7 foot giraffe named Kevin, our mascot!
  • I have worked in several different public libraries and have found that it is important to recognize that every community is different and our job is to meet and exceed the expectations of that community!
  • PaLA is an important part of my professional life. It provides opportunities for networking, gathering new information, learning new concepts and gaining new perspectives on librarianship. It helps me to better serve my community.
  • I love PA Forward and work to promote it in my library! I serve as the Chair for the Health Literacy Committee. We are working on a grant from the NN/LM MAR, to promote consumer health literacy and to learn more about effective evaluation of programs in libraries!
  • My favorite children’s books include: Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom, Caps for Sale, and Julie Edward’s Mandy. I love when I have the opportunity to do our music and movement story time – singing and dancing with the toddlers makes me happy! 

Tags:  Susan Jefferey 

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Meet Chris Snyder, PaLA Member since 1982

Posted By Chris Snyder, Thursday, May 26, 2016

I knew I was going to be a librarian since 2nd grade when my mom, who was a volunteer at my elementary school in Brooklyn, harangued the principal about why the school library was closed. “Well, Rose”, she said, “open it.” And so we did. I spent hours with her during the summer un-mothballing the one-room library. When school started in September, I became her only ‘paid’ assistant (a weekly treat from the school store). There was never a doubt in my mind that this was what I was meant to do with my life.

Fast forward 13 years to when I graduated Shippensburg University with a degree in school librarianship and secondary English education and became the first female teacher in an all-male high school.  It was quite the experience and two of the school’s worst troublemakers were, hands-down, my best library aides. (“Hey, Ms. S, you want us to get you those overdue fines?”   “No, no! I’ll take care of it…”)

After five years, I took a job as a cataloger in a public library and changed my PSLA (PA School Librarians Association) membership for a PaLA membership (although it was PLA back then). My years in PaLA served me well as I moved along in my career from cataloger to Technical Services Manager to System Administrator and now, to District Consultant for Bucks County. I served on committees for SEPLA and attended workshops and conferences which strengthened my job skills and taught me to network.  I’m proud to have been asked to serve on state-level committees and give back to an association that has helped me so much professionally AND given me a cadre of friends who actually understand what I’m talking about when I feel the need to grump about RDA or celebrate getting a sticky piece of ILS coding to cooperate.  PaLA members don’t roll their eyes at these stories as much as my husband and children do…

Thank you, PaLA!!!

Tags:  Chris Snyder 

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Meet Marcia Stiller, PaLA Northwest Chapter

Posted By Marcia Stiller, Monday, March 7, 2016

I’m Marcia Stiller, the Director of the Corry Public Library in southeast Erie County (yes that does sound like an oxymoron). I am also the 2016 past-chair of the NW Chapter of PaLA.

I joined PaLA when I became a library director in 2011. The Library Board had decided to send me to the annual conference and (ICYMI) members receive a discounted rate.  At that time I was only measuring value in cost; a mistake I think many of us may be guilty of. The value provided by PaLA is much more than discounts to conferences & workshops or coupons from vendors.

PaLA provides a platform for Pennsylvania library professionals to exchange ideas and collaborate. PaLA provides tools like PA Forward that help us in our everyday advocacy efforts. Also PaLA sponsors professional development opportunities on both the state and chapter levels.

Yes, you may (gasp!) get asked to volunteer. But why would you say no to helping further libraries and engage the public? Unless I’m mistaken you’re doing these things already. So why not borrow ideas from others doing the same? Why not use the PA Forward brand to strengthen your grant requests and advocacy efforts? (Plus, it will save you time!) 

Tags:  Marcia Stiller 

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Meet Janis Stubbs, 2015 PaLA Past-President

Posted By Janis Stubbs, Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let’s see…a few words about me.  I’m the assistant director and district consultant for the Delaware County Library System.  A few of my duties include adult collection development for ebooks and audio (love it), van delivery (not so much), and interacting with library boards (actually enjoy it).  I joined PaLA when I first moved to Pennsylvania and it was still called PLA.  I always went to conferences and took advantage of workshops, but it wasn’t until I became active in SEPLA that it hit me just how powerful membership is.  It is powerful on a personal level in that I’ve met so many smart and talented and, most importantly, helpful people who became my friends.  And I know they’re friends because they still take my phone calls in spite of the number of times I’ve bothered them with questions.  It’s powerful on a professional level because—just like PA Forward says—success comes when we speak with a collective voice.  The more of us there are, the better.  The more patrons and trustees, too, that we can get to help make our case in Harrisburg, the better.

I feel so fortunate in being able to serve the association, having served a term on the board as Director-at-Large and as President last year.  I’m on the PA Forward Steering Committee, the Membership Committee and the Legislative Information Committee, as well, and have been a mentor for PALS, PaLA’s incomparable leadership development program, four times.  If I could commandeer the entire PaLA website to gush about PALS, I would, but just know that if you’re a new librarian and are interested in learning about leadership and meeting a lot of awesome people who, with any luck, will always take your phone calls no matter how many times you bother them, you should look into it.  And if you’re not a member of PaLA, you should join, and if you are a member, go find somebody who isn’t and tell them how great it is!

Tags:  Janis Stubbs 

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Meet Kelly Clever, 2015 Southwest Chapter Chair

Posted By Kelly Clever, Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In my grandparents’ house, there is still a small bookcase that contains a dozen or so children’s books. In the back of each of those books is a pocket and sign-out card that I created and used to check out One Fish, Two Fish and Caps for Sale to my brother or grandfather before Papa would read to us. It seems that I chose my profession early.

Twenty-fiveish years later, I’m a librarian, which may have been inevitable! As an academic, I don’t automatically experience connection and idea-sharing with other librarians at district meetings, etc. PaLA has been invaluable in connecting me with the regional librarians beyond my own university.

I’ve learned so much from my attendance and participation in our local group (go, Southwest Chapter!) and at the state level. My classroom teaching, liaison responsibilities, committee roles, technical abilities, organizational skills, and more have all improved as a result of my participation in PaLA over the last eight years, well repaying the investment that I and my university have made in the organization. 

By the way, my last name is pronounced just like the word. I’m literally a clever librarian.

Tags:  Kelly Clever 

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