The 2016 ALA/AASL Election is quickly approaching. AASL is using this public forum as an opportunity to introduce the candidates running for office to all members. Each candidate was given the opportunity to respond to this question: If elected, what will you do to advance AASL’s new mission to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning? Read their responses and vote beginning March 15.
During my career as a high school librarian, I have found one thing that has gone a long way. Inspiration! Be an inspiration! Everyday inspire someone in some way. Help someone discover something. Allow someone to meet and conquer a challenge.
Our students, faculty and colleagues know just how great we are. Our principals know the difference that we make. Parents see the impact we make in their students’ education. But outside of that, how far does our influence reach? What good is all this knowledge and expertise that we have gained unless it is shared.
We each have something to offer to our state organizations as well as AASL. I encourage each and every one of you to share that book talk, that lesson, that idea, that workshop and that personal experience like only librarians can do. We are AASL. We are the members. We are the valuable link in our organization. We are the best advocates. As we network and make important connections, we build relationships. Reach out to another librarian. Members seek the practical but effective ideas and lessons.
Serve as that mentor who leaves a legacy to your library, your school, your community, your region or your state. You may never know how far your inspiration will reach, only that you made a difference.
If elected as Region Five director, I would seek to empower school librarians to serve their most important role, that of ensuring equitable access to information and resources to students across the nation, the same students who are growing into the mantle of a citizenry who will determine the direction of our future. Too often, I have seen school librarians get caught up in a mode of justifying and advocating for their positions on the faculty or preoccupied with scraping together enough funding from various sources to keep their programs going to the exclusion of any long-term planning. In the same way that insecurity in Maslow’s most fundamental hierarchy of needs obviates any basis for more existential growth, those basic insecurities inevitably distract us from a larger landscape of teaching and learning.
I seek to serve school libraries by working with the expectation that well-funded and well-staffed libraries increase achievement, but most importantly, move schools in the constructivist, collaborative direction that grows the affective skills and sensibilities most prized by employers seeking a nimble and flexible workforce and universities seeking young scholars who can manipulate datasets and mine social media trends using evolving tools. School librarians are the rare generalists who can work with students across grades and content areas, and their longitudinal guidance is essential to graduating a generation of students who can use electronic tools not just for computer-based assessment but in constructive and creative ways.
I believe that access to the resources and perspectives school librarians provide makes the difference in providing top-flight academic support services and independent intellectual stimulation in communities grappling with the most intense economic and social privations. It is only with the integration of skills and dispositions ensuring this equity that the promise of paperless, connected, always-on learning spaces will come to pass.