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Our very sad state database update

Yesterday we got the news regarding what will remain in our state database system after the cuts take effect on January 31st.  I share this with you in the hope it might help other states in similar circumstances.

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries announced that POWER Library 2010 will consist of the following

  • General Periodical Resources  (H.W. Wilson)
  • Newspaper Resources (Gale)
  • Business Resources (ProQuest ABI Inform)
  • Contemporary Authors
  • AP Photo Archive

Though these are fine databases, the new system will be merely a whisper of its former glory. And younger students appear to be the ones who will feel the loss the most.  It seems almost an irony that Caroline and I produced Sally Loves Databases just a couple of weeks ago.

I dug up an image of the old POWER Library for reference to those glory days:

Deb Kachel, chair of PSLA’s Legislation Committee, has advised our membership and is happy to share her advice more broadly:

Please channel your frustrations toward the only people who can change this situation—your state representative and senator. They need to hear your stories about how the loss of POWER databases impacts the students you teach and the resources you and your teachers have to use. 412 of the 500 school districts relied on the POWER Library databases as the ONLY subscription, professionally vetted electronic resources their students and staff had access to. But the bottom line is that legislators only care about how it affects their constituents—that’s you, your teachers, students and their parents.

Email and write letters to your state legislators and tell them:

  • How many students and teachers in your building used the POWER databases
  • How many lessons you taught or units that relied on POWER database content
  • Log into the POWER Library databases and get your statistics (before that disappears too!) and use them to show legislators how many searches/uses your students have been making (see below)
  • Describe one of the units and the unique resources your students obtained for one of the POWER database
  • Remind them that the new Standards Aligned System (SAS) that PDE launched has a “Resources” section that instructs teachers to use the library’s electronic databases and other resources which are not being supported.
  • And, please copy me at so I can keep a file of emails and letters to present to the legislators that I visit when I go to Harrisburg. Thanks!

In addition, ask your teachers, administrators, students, and parents to write letters and emails to your legislators. You can always write your own letter and ask all your teachers to sign it, saving them the time. Before asking students to write letters, please be sure to discuss this with your principal.

It is the local, personal emails and letters that will move our legislators and only you can do it! It’s in your hands!


Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. This is nothing short of a tragedy. I live in fear that this will happen to our state databases here in Michigan, too.

  2. It is indeed sad for your students. We have never even had a state database but have been trying (prior to the financial meltdown) to institute one. When will legislators ever understand that education is an investment that will save them money in welfare, prisons, etc. We need to hire PR firms since what we mostly do is preach to the choir.

  3. I’m sad for you but you are still getting more than we get from our Oklahoma state databases if it makes you feel any better.

  4. Gwyneth Jones says:

    Oh Joyce…i am SO sorry! what a sorry sad state of affairs for my PA neighbors and the kids!

  5. Lucy Ann McLaughlin says:

    Deb Kachel is right on the money – we need to be vocal and active! I think we should also prepare a package of stats and a postion letter for our school boards, PTO’s, and any formal school associated support organization to send to legislators. We can raise awarness of this issue and make it easy for formal school associations to support us at the same time.

  6. Peg Bradley says:

    What about contacting Arne Duncan our Secretary of Education? Do you think he has a clue about the lack of information access for our students? I can’t put the link here because it does not take HTML. Go to and go to contact us.

  7. As usual, the distance between the “haves” and “have nots”
    keeps getting larger…with the elimination of most of the Power Library funding, schools that cannot afford the expensive databases will have to do without…where does that leave the students?

  8. The scary thing is our teachers wouldn’t know what to do with these anyway. Even scarier is the fact true research is considered googling and has become obsolete.

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