Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join PaLA!
News & Notes
Blog Home All Blogs

Celebrating 800 Episodes of PA Books

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Friday, March 9, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2018

News from our partners at the PA Cable Network (PCN) as they prepare to celebrate their 800th PA Book! Show airs Sunday, March 11 at 7 p.m. 


Celebrating 800 Episodes of PA Books - For 2018, 18 Favorites

Written by Brian Lockman, PCN’s CEO & President

Hosting PA Books for the past 20 years has been more of a hobby than a job. It has offered me the privilege of spending an hour with hundreds of fascinating people who have written about Pennsylvania. And I hope it has enabled viewers learn something about their home state and, maybe, helped authors sell a few books.

Whittling more than 20 years of PA Books down to my 18 favorites was a very difficult thing to do. It would have been easier to pick my favorite 100, but here goes in no particular order.

1 – John Updike, author of “Buchanan Dying”

After many years of reading his novels, and after 10 years of requesting an interview, I was finally able to sit down with this literary legend. Very few writers have tackled James Buchanan as a subject, but he wrote both a book and a play about Pennsylvania’s only president. Updike was charming, humble, and fascinating. I was in awe.


2 – Dick Boak, author of “Martin Guitar Masterpieces”

Some of the finest guitars in the world, including the ones my wife and I play, are made by C.F. Martin & Company in Nazareth, PA. Dick Boak was director of artist relations there, so he would work with Neil Young, Paul Simon and the like to design guitars to their specifications. After the show, he let me play a guitar owned by Eric Clapton. It had been sent to Martin for some repair work. That made my daughters think they had the coolest dad in the world.


3 – John Grogan, author of “Marley and Me”

This book spent three years on the New York Times best-seller list and was made into a hit movie. I interviewed him when the book first came out. PA Books cannot claim all the credit for the book’s success, but it did not show up on the best-seller charts until after its appearance on PA Books so it does make you wonder.


4 – Lisa Scottoline, author of “Mistaken Identity”

It’s hard to interview writers of fiction, because you really cannot talk very much about the plot, so there is the danger of running out of things to talk about. No problem with Lisa Scottoline. She is so enthusiastic and entertaining that she has been a guest six times.


5 – M.K. Asante, author of “Buck”

This was the first book that ever arrived with its own promotional music video, so the prospect of interviewing him was intriguing. Asante, still in his 30’s, grew up in Philadelphia and is a tenured professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He is funny, fascinating, and inspiring. We could have kept talking for hours.


6 – David McCullough, author of “1776”

Most of George Washington’s career took place in Pennsylvania, and I never get tired of reading about him. Plus, you should never pass up an opportunity to interview David McCullough. He was not in his best voice that day because he had a cold, but he was still David McCullough. Even with a cold…what a voice.


7 – Amy Strauss, author of “Pennsylvania Scrapple”

I had to include this book on the list because, whenever I am out with my family and order scrapple, they give me looks of revulsion. This book sets the record straight. The author was animated, fun to talk with, and a relentless supported of this most misunderstood food.


8 – Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, authors of “Busted”

These two women won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series they did for the Philadelphia Daily News on police corruption. It took amazing courage for them to work on this story. Their chemistry was a treat to behold. They were enthusiastic, funny, and serious at the same time.


9 – George Anastasia, author of “Mob Files”

George has been on the program four times. He covered organized crime for the Philadelphia Inquirer. If you want to hire an actor to play a reporter covering the mob, George is straight out of central casting.


10 – Jimmy Heath, author of “I Walked With Giants”

This legendary jazz musician and Philadelphia native was 90 years old and still an active

performer when I interviewed him. He was charming, funny, and full of fascinating stories.


11 – John Eisenhower, author of “General Ike”

PCN has claimed Dwight Eisenhower as a Pennsylvanian, since the only home he ever owned was in Gettysburg. The president’s son, himself a general, told great stories, cussed like a soldier, and when he smiled, was the spitting image of his dad. I interviewed him at his home in Maryland, and when the interview was over, his wife served lunch to the whole PCN crew.


12 – William Hogeland, author of “Declaration”

This book painted a picture of Philadelphia in 1776 that made it sound like Teheran in 1979, with Samuel Adams playing the role of the Ayatolla. The American Revolution was not neat or pretty, and this book did the best job I’ve found in describing the chaos that came with the rebellion.


13 – Diane McKinney-Whetstone, author of “Lazaretto”

I said earlier how difficult it is to interview writers of fiction, but Diane was on the program

three times. She taught writing at the University of Pennsylvania and gave great insights into the challenges of the writing craft.


14 – Cooper Wingert, author of “The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg”

Cooper was 16 years old when I interviewed him. Today he is a 20-year- old Dickinson College student who has ten books to his credit. At 16, he sounded as knowledgeable and well-spoken as any historian I have interviewed. His book caused me to view the Harrisburg area and its role in the Civil War in an entirely new way.


15 – Abdullah Muhammed, author of “Africans in New Sweden”

The town where I grew up was part of the colony of New Sweden, so I find the subject to be fascinating. The Swedes were here before the English and before William Penn, and yet almost no one writes about it. Abdullah is a charming and engaging re-enactor of a historical era that deserves to be better remembered.


16 – Audrey Lewis and Christine Podmaniczky, authors of “Andrew Wyeth: A Retrospective”

We recorded this interview in Andrew Wyeth’s actual studio in Chadds’ Ford. Besides being a very entertaining interview, it was great fun looking around at the easels, palettes, brushes, and memorabilia that are untouched since the famous painter worked in that room.


17 – William Woys Weaver, author of “As American As Shoo-Fly Pie”

This was a delightful discussion of sauerkraut, sausages, desserts, and other Pennsylvania Dutch treats. Weaver is a strong supporter of this cuisine and is always trying to incorporate it into the world of fine dining.


18 – Walt Koken, author of “Fire on the Mountain”

I wanted book show number 800 to feature someone special. My wife and I became fans of Walt and the Highwoods Stringband in the 1970’s. We, and many others like us, play Old Time Southern Appalachian fiddle tunes today because of the inspiration we got from that band. This is a music that has very little commercial value, but among people who play it, Walt is a legend.


The 800th episode of PA Books featuring Author and Musician Walt Koken will air on PCN and the PCN Select Sunday, March 11, at 7 p.m.

How to watch PA Books

Watch PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) and stream on demand in HD on your favorite mobile device, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku using the PCN Select app. Subscribe to PCN Select at

About PCN

PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) is a statewide, non-profit television network responsive to the needs and interests of Pennsylvania and its people. PCN provides unedited coverage of politics and policy, unique accounts of history and culture, and a variety of sports championships and events from the state of Pennsylvania. Watch PCN on cable and stream on demand using PCN Select. Go to for the schedule and details.



Tags:  PA Books  PA Forward  PCN 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

PA Books on PCN TV Celebrates 800 Episodes

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Check out this information from our PA Forward partners and tune in on Sunday, March 11!


PA Books on PCN TV Celebrates 800 Episodes

Sunday, March 11, at 7 pm


Did you know…


-Pennsylvania once fought a shooting war against Connecticut?

-The highest paid spy in the American Revolution was the wealthy Philadelphia loyalist Peggy Shippen, the wife of Benedict Arnold?

-The first six Negro Leagues players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame all played for teams in Pittsburgh?

-The world’s first computer, ENIAC, was built in Philadelphia, and still resides there?

-At age 22, George Washington was famous in the courts of England and France for having started the French and Indian War at Jumonville Glen, PA?

Most people don’t, unless they watch PA Books on PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network).

A Books is a television program that features one-hour interviews with authors of books about Pennsylvania. For more than 20 years, PCN has offered this unique collection, showcasing the state’s history, culture, and people. Selected for the program are newly-released books about some aspect of Pennsylvania’s multi-faceted story.

With each episode, PA Books engages the viewers beyond the written words and personally connects them with the authors who discuss not only the stories in their book, but also reflect on their research, writing process, and personal impressions of the people and events they’ve spent years studying. Viewers are rewarded with an audiovisual dimension of the book and author exclusive to the PA Books program.

On March 11, PCN will televise episode number 800 of this long-running series.

For program number 800, the guest is Chester County’s Walt Koken, a master of the fiddle and banjo, playing “Old Time Music”, traditional music handed down through generations of mountain folks in West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. The music was brought to America by Scots-Irish immigrants who carried the tunes with them as they headed west from Philadelphia, through Pennsylvania, and into the Blue Ridge Mountains. “The wonderful thing about Old Time Music,” says PA Books host Brian Lockman, “Is that it has a devoted audience who appreciate something out of the mainstream. Kind of like PCN viewers.” 


To celebrate PA Books’ contribution to preserving Pennsylvania’s history and culture, the top 18 episodes, including the 800th one, will be available free of charge streaming on the PCN Select app and our website through the end of March. The 18 PA Books programs were selected to tell the story of the state through a wide range of topics and guests including Martin Guitars, organized crime, the Civil War, New Sweden, Andrew Wyeth, and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine plus David McCullough, John Updike, Lisa Scottoline, M.K. Asante, and John Grogan.

Back when PA Books premiered in 1996, it was only available on PCN on cable. With the recent addition of the streaming service, PCN Select, viewers can stream new and on demand episodes of PA Books. PCN has a devoted fan-base who enjoys its coverage of PA Books and other unique historical and cultural programs. Fans also watch PCN’s politics and policy coverage, and a variety of sports championships and events from the state of Pennsylvania. PCN is a statewide, non-profit television network.

The 800th episode of PA Books featuring Author and Musician Walt Koken will air on PCN and the PCN Select Sunday, March 11, at 7 p.m. Please visit for more information.



Tags:  PA Books  PA Forward  PCN 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Deadline extended to March 12 - apply now for sponsorships!

Posted By Christi Buker, Thursday, March 1, 2018
Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2018
The Pennsylvania Library Association Academy for Leadership Studies (PALS) is extending the deadline to apply for those seeking financial sponsorship.  Applications will now be accepted until March 12th, but we still encourage you to get them in as soon as possible because spaces are limited and filling up fast! 
PALS will be celebrating it's 10th year of promoting leadership and learning to librarians across Pennsylvania.  We hope you will join us this year for either the Leadership Academy or the Directors' Institute and see what these amazing programs have to offer!  Please see the links below for more information! 
Leadership Academy:  June 3 - 6, 2018.  Application & requirements page:
Directors’ Institute:  June 6 - 9, 2018.  Application & requirements page: 
Please be aware that we will continue to accept applications until April 20th, but to receive consideration for financial sponsorship, you should submit by March 12th.  
If you have any questions, you can reach us at  We'll see you in June! 
Sylvia Orner
Leadership Development Committee Chair 


PS - Want to hear from past participants?  Check out these quotes as to why YOU should sign up now! 


This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Stand Up for Health: Health and Wellness Services for Your Community - Four Week Online Course Available

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Thursday, February 8, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

From our PA Forward partners at NNLM/MAR. 

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is recruiting public library staff to participate in the online training, “Stand Up for Health: Health and Wellness Services for Your Community.” This is a 4-week, online, asynchronous (all self-paced) course where participants will earn 12 continuing education (CE) credits and a certificate. The course is designed to provide public library staff with core competencies of providing health information services and the essential skills and knowledge that library staff need to build those competencies.

The course will begin March 5, 2018, with new content released each Monday. Plan to spend about 3 hours on coursework each week between March 5 and April 1. One additional week will be provided to catch up on assignments if needed. However, because each week involves online discussion with your peers, it is important to keep up with the weekly topics and not attempt to catch up at the end.


This opportunity is part of a project to improve the course content and format to meet the unique needs of public library staff. Participants will be asked to take a short pre- and post-course surveys.

In addition to receiving a certificate for 12 CE hours from the Medical Library Association (MLA), the NNLM will also sponsor the application fee for a Consumer Health Information Specialization certificate from MLA. You will receive a certificate in the mail as well as a digital badge to use online. 

If you are interested please complete this online form.

You will be contacted on February 26, 2018, to let you know if you have been selected for the program.

If you have any questions please contact:

Bobbi Newman, MLIS, MA

Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist

National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM)

Greater Midwest Region (GMR)

Tags:  National Network Libraries of Medicine  NNLM/MAR  PA Forward 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Governor's 2018-2019 Budget Proposal

Posted By Christi Buker, Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Governor Wolf presented his proposed budget for 2018-2019 to a joint session of the PA House and Senate yesterday.  For more details, see the Legislative Update

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

FREE WEBINAR: Money on our minds: How to help library patrons make financial choices

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Money on our minds: How to help library patrons make financial choices


You are invited to participate in a webinar to learn about CFPB’s financial education resources on Thursday, February 22, 2018 from 2:00 to 3:00pm eastern standard time. See below for details.


Many Americans are turning to a trusted source in their communities, their local public library.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal government agency, recognizes that libraries are a powerful and trusted community resource, and has materials specifically for libraries to use to inform their patrons about financial education.  Collaborating with the CFPB makes it easy for libraries to refer your patrons to trusted sources so they can make important money decisions.


Learn more about the value provided for libraries collaborating with CFPB


You can learn more about this exciting opportunity to help empower your patrons in the financial services market through an upcoming webinar conducted by the CFPB.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

2:00-3:00 pm (Eastern Time)

Step 1:  To join the February 22nd webinar, please go to the following link at the time of the webinar:

(Note that this webinar link will not be live until the day of the webinar).

Step 2:  Listen to the audio by dialing 888-795-5920 and entering participant passcode 77-58-404.


If you have any questions about this webinar—or about CFPB’s Libraries Initiative--please contact Ken McDonnell at

Tags:  CFPB  Coonsumer Financial Protection Bureau  Financial Literacy 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

2018 Media Toolkits Help Libraries

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Friday, February 2, 2018

In December, we shared the 2018 media tool kits for January, February and March with you. Below is the response from our members, Melissa Rowse, Degenstein Library  Director. 

"Ladies, Thank you!  Muchas Gracias!  Dank! Merci! I totally love the February's media packet.  Love that it has included facebook posts with images.  I am so totally using these.  This is one of the best ones that I have opened so far. Thank you so much.  You have saved me tons of time trying to come up with social media posts.  I also am sending the press release tomorrow. You all rock!!!  Thank you again. I can't wait to see what else is released.  And here's to moving PA Forward."

You're welcome, Melissa! Let's keep moving forward, together!

Be on the look out for the April, May and June tool kits very soon. These materials are provided by the PR & Marketing Committee with support from other sub-committees and the PA Forward Literacy Teams.

Tags:  Melissa Rowse  PA Forward  PR & Marketing 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

PA Forward Training is Available! Schedule today!

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Monday, January 29, 2018

Does your library want to become a PA Forward Star Library and you're not quite sure how to get started? Do you need help incorporating the PA Forward framework into your programs?


Check out the trainings we have available at


For more information or to set up a training, send an email to 

Tags:  PA Forward  Star Library  Training 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

PHC's Teen Reading Lounge is Expanding!

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Monday, January 29, 2018

The Teen Reading Lounge program is expanding! Read this article from our PA Forward partners at the PA Humanities Council to learn more!


Tags:  Basic Literacy  PA Humanities Council  PHC  Teen Reading Lounge 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Update: PLA PaLA Pre-Conferences

Posted By Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Friday, January 26, 2018

The PA Forward session previously scheduled for March 20 as a part of the Public Library Association (PLA) Conference [pre-conference line up] has been cancelled.

The March 21 pre-conference session on libraries as welcoming spaces is now sold out. 

For more information about the 2018 PLA Conference, visit 

Tags:  PaLA Pre-Conference  PLA Conference 

Share |
Page 10 of 12
 |<   <<   <  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12

Contact Us

220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
717-766-7663 Phone
717-766-5440 Fax
800-622-3308 (PA Only)