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This is the "Project Leaders" page of the "PA School Library Project" guide.
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A school library research project funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to study the impact of school library programs and librarians on student achievement in Pennsylvania; edited by Debra E. Kachel
Last Updated: Dec 3, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Project Leaders Print Page

About this Page

This page will profile members of the Steering Committee and key individuals of this IMLS grant project. These organizations and individuals represent an impressive combination of talent led by an alliance among three non-profit organizations (HSLC, PSLA, and ELC) that are invested in providing quality school library programs for Pennsylvania’s students. This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Project Leader

Deb Kachel, MLS, is currently employed as a part-time Instructor for Mansfield University’s online School Library & Information Technologies graduate school where she also serves as Project Leader and Scholarship Director for an IMLS Laura Bush Scholarship Grant.  She was formerly a high school librarian and Department Supervisor for K-12 Library Media Services at the Ephrata Area School District for over 30 years. A 2001 PSLA Outstanding Contributor, she is Co-Chairperson of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s (PSLA) Legislation Committee, a member of ALA's Committee on Legislation, AASL’s Legislation Committee, having recently chaired the committee that authored the AASL advocacy brochures. She received AASL's 2014 Distinguished Service Award.

Throughout her career, she has written numerous successfully funded grants including four federal IMLS grants and four state LSTA grants. She has published numerous articles and authored Collection Assessment and Management for School Libraries, a library science text. During the past two years, she has authored several statewide professional development programs for school librarians on collection assessment and digital collection development.  She recently contributed to Activism and the School Librarian: Tools for Advocacy and Survival (Libraries Unlimited, 2012).


HSLC-The Health Sciences Library Consortium (HSLC)

The Health Sciences Library Consortium (HSLC) represented in this project by Joe Scorza, Executive Director, was the lead applicant and fiscal agent of this project. HSLC was originally founded to support the automation goals of Pennsylvania’s medical school libraries. However, its role as a manager and provider of information services and programs for public and school libraries has replaced its original mission. HSLC now serves over 2100 K-12 school libraries, 450 public libraries and 200 academic and special libraries in Pennsylvania, primarily managing the statewide ACCESS PA and POWER Library databases projects. 


Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA)

PSLA logoBegun in 1972, the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) is a state affiliate of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), an American Library Association Division, and comprised of approximately 1,000 public, private, and parochial school librarians, library supervisors, and university library educators. Working with ELC, PSLA was able to get a House Resolution passed in 2010 that initiated the Pennsylvania School Library Study.  Conducted by the PA State Board of Education, the report provided a snapshot of public school libraries in spring 2011, that included staffing, collections, budgets, and other quanifiable characteristics of school library programs. This information is one piece of data being used in this IMLS research project.


Education Law Center of Pennsylvania (ELC)

The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania (ELC) is a non-profit legal advocacy and educational organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children have access to a quality public education. ELC is represented in this project primarily by Sandy Zelno, School Reform Associate, in the Pittsburgh office and Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy and Senior Staff Attorney, in the Philadelphia office.

Sandy Zelno worked for the Education Law Center from 2000-2013.  Based in the Western Pennsylvania Office, she focused her attention on federal, state, and local education policy and reform issues such as academic standards, assessment, teacher quality, school finance equity and adequacy issues, parent involvement, and democratic governance. She continues to work with communities, schools, and policymakers at all levels to shape public policy for schools which results in school improvement and the reduction of achievement gaps, especially for disadvantaged student.  She brings to her work more than 30 years of experience coordinating and motivating stakeholders to shape public policy through advocacy efforts. She is currenlty active wiht the Pennsylvania PTA.

Baruch Kintisch was the Director of Policy Advocacy and Senior Staff Attorney in the Philadelphia office of the Education Law Center.  He worked for ELC from 2003-2013.  Baruch received a B.A. from Haverford College, an M.B.A. from Temple University Fox School of Business, and a J.D. from the Temple University Beasley School of Law.  He has worked for over two decades in the areas of public education and juvenile justice, including experience as a social worker, classroom teacher, community organizer, and attorney. He currently is co-director and a consultant for Pathway Strategies.

Brett Schaeffer is responsible for the ELC's internal and external communications. Brett handled media outreach, message development, and media communications. In addition, he helped with this project's website and supervised the photography of school librarians and their students.  Brett is a member of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook's Leadership Board. He graduated from New York University with a degree in Journalism.

RSL Research Group, Louisville, Colorado

The RSL Research Group is the most prolific team of researchers studying the impact of school libraries and librarians on academic achievement and student learning.  Since 2000, they have undertaken more than a dozen such studies in diverse states from coast to coast:  Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and—now, for the second time—Pennsylvania.

RSL is a consulting firm based in Louisville, Colorado, a suburb of both Boulder and Denver.  The firm pursues two major types of projects:  those related to library research and statistics, such as the current study, and competitive intelligence for technology-related businesses, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to “main street.”

RSL is owned by Marcia J. Rodney, a professional librarian and researcher, and operated by her and Bill Schwarz, MBA.  Dr. Keith Curry Lance is RSL’s principal consultant and analyst for library research and statistics projects.

Marcia Rodney, MLIS, has been crunching the numbers when it comes to the impact of library services for more than twelve years.  She has worked closely with Keith Curry Lance, both at the Library Research Service and through RSL Research Group in Colorado, doing analysis, writing, and teaching.  In addition to her work in research design and analysis in the education and literacy arena, Marcia has extensive experience in competitive intelligence and market research, supporting industry clients in telecom, aerospace, high tech, and small business.  A native of Springfield (Delaware county) and a graduate of Springfield High and the Univ. of Pennsylvania, Marcia is delighted to be working with the Keystone State again. 

Keith Curry Lance is best known in the school library community as the principal investigator of the most prolific research team studying the impact of school libraries and librarians on academic achievement and student learning.

From 1987 to 2007, he was the founding Director of the Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Department of Education.  Since 2007, he has worked independently and with the RSL Research Group (Louisville, Colorado).

Over the past two decades, he has spoken about school library impact research in almost every U.S. state as well as in Australia, Canada, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.  In June 2002, he was a featured speaker at the White House Conference on School Libraries hosted by then-First Lady Laura Bush.

For more information about Keith and his work, visit:

Bill Schwarz is a now-retired engineer, BSEE, MBA, with long experience in project and program management in government and industry. He has been part of the RSL Research team for over ten years, participating in all of RSL's school library impact studies, primarily as project manager.

He manages RSL’s project cost and schedule control, and all contracting, invoicing, and bookkeeping. He does most of the data collection, spreadsheet design, data cleanup, and file merging for all projects, as well as supporting report writing and statistical analyses. He is considered a pretty good proofreader for an engineer, and can really annoy people with his editing efforts.

School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

Mary K. Biagini, a tenured Associate Professor of Library and Information Science in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, serves as the Director of its School Library Certification Program. At the School, she has served as both Associate Dean and Chair of the Library and Information Science Program. She also was a faculty member in the Library Science Program at Kent State University. She began her career as a school librarian and English teacher in the Akron (OH) Public Schools and a reference librarian at the Stow (OH) Public Library.

She is an active member of the American Library Association, and chaired and served three terms on the Publishing Committee, which oversees all ALA books and journals. She also served as an appointed member of the Committee on Education. She participates in the American Association of School Librarians, and served as editor of School Library Media Quarterly, a refereed journal, for six years. She co-chaired the AASL National Conference in 2001 and in 2005 and chaired the Nominating Committee. She served for six years as the founding chair of the Electronic Information Network in Pittsburgh.

In November 2011, she completed a research contract with the PA State Board of Education for an analysis of school libraries in PA and a set of recommendations for the PA House of Representatives that was published as Pennsylvania School Library Study: Findings and Recommendations. She received the 2011 Research Award from the American Association of School Librarians with Rebecca Morris, Assistant Professor at Simmons College, to study the curricula of the 85 school library programs that are accredited by ALA and/or recognized by AASL and NCATE. In 2007, Dr. Biagini was awarded the Outstanding Contributor, Pennsylvania School Library Media Programs, by the Pennsylvania Association of School Librarians. In 2000, she received the Distinguished Service Award for Exceptional Service in Support of Public Libraries in Allegheny County (PA) by the Allegheny County Library Association. While a faculty member at Kent State University, she received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Kent State University Alumni Association and the Distinguished Alumna Award.

PALM Center, Florida State University

Dr. Nancy Everhart (left photo) and Dr. Marcia Mardis (right photo) are professors at Florida State University's School of Library & Information Studies and will be conducting an external evaluation of the project.

Dr. Everhart’s award-winning research focuses on the impact of technology on the role of the school librarian and their ability to lead in their schools. She has published widely in the area of technology integration, leadership and school library evaluation and is the author of Evaluating the School Library Media Center:  Analysis Techniques and Research Practices.  She is the current past-President of the American Association of School Librarians.

The PALM Center offers an array of services to support school librarians and other educators in Florida, throughout the United States, and internationally to improve their districts and schools. A wide range of research and evaluation services is available from large-scale surveys and evaluation of reliability and validity of program implementation, to individualized in-depth case studies of school libraries, technology implementation, and whole school change. The PALM Center has the established research-based expertise to assist with research and evaluation needs in school and informal educational settings.


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