A Lot Can Happen in a Year!

AASL, we’ve had a great year together! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your president. I danced into the year at Wanda K. Brown’s inaugural reception in Washington, DC, at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference, learned something new almost every day, and made new friends all over the world. The AASL President, President-Elect, and Immediate Past President visit each of the state chapters on a rotating basis. As president, I was scheduled to make five presidential visits. In the fall I attended the meeting of the Oregon Association of School Libraries on the central coast of Oregon; the South Dakota Library Association on the western edge of the Black Hills of South Dakota; and the Mississippi Library Association in Jackson, Mississippi In Louisville, Kentucky, I presided at our association’s national conference, and because I had a bad sinus infection, worked in a bonus visit to an urgent care center across the river in Indiana. I was invited to represent AASL in a legislative agenda development meeting hosted by UNC-Greensboro on behalf of North Carolina School Library Media Association, and visited Greensboro, North Carolina as the guest of the library school. In other school library advocacy, AASL’s presidential leadership visited with ALA’s Public Policy Office in Washington, DC, in September to determine an agenda for school library advocacy with legislators and policy makers. In February I returned to Washington, DC, to attend ALA’s Fly-In event, and called on several Virginia representatives in Congress to explain the value of IMLS funding to folks in their districts. From time to time the president may be invited to speak at other conferences or events. I was honored to speak at a dinner meeting for school librarians and their principals hosted by the Fairfax, Virginia, school librarians’ association. I even got to speak to (but not go to) the Pakistan School Library Association! I was asked to speak virtually on emerging trends, such as makerspaces and inquiry learning. Because of the time difference, I recorded my remarks and uploaded my file. Finally, I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing groups of leaders, including the AASL Board, my presidential task force, and the new AASL School Leaders Collaborative. I spoke about school libraries with reporters on your behalf, was interviewed on podcasts, wrote blogs and columns, and with Wanda K. Brown, co-signed and sent 13 letters of support for school libraries and school librarians to state and local boards of education.

AASL has produced an amazing number of publications over the past year, including

In addition to the above publications, AASL also recognized the excellence of the following research articles, and their applicability to school library practice, with the AASL Research Grant, sponsored by ABC-CLIO:

  • Sue C. Kimmel and Danielle E. Hartsfield for their article “Does ALA Ban Books? Examining the Discourse of Challenged Books,” published July 2019 in Library Quarterly.
  • April Dawkins and Karen Gavigan for their article “E-Book Collections in High School Libraries: Factors Influencing Circulation and Usage,” published April 2019 in School Library Research.
  • Heather Moorefield-Lang for “Lessons Learned: Intentional Implementation of Second Makerspaces,” published February 2019 in Reference Services Review.

We launched a new strategic plan, voted to change bylaws to streamline governance, and charged committees and task forces to craft position statements, research issues that affect school librarians, advise on trends affecting the profession, and take care of the business of the association.

I’m especially proud of the work done by my presidential task force. They set out to inform members about issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion and to empower school librarians to create inclusive, welcoming, and affirming spaces for all learners. The tangible results of their efforts are now located in the AASL Learning Library (ALL).

And when the pandemic hit, you made me proud to be a school librarian. You proved over and over again that school librarians are resourceful, innovative, flexible, and persistent. You demonstrated strength in adversity and compassion for the underserved. You shared generously with your peers through ten town hall meetings, titled appropriately enough “The Show Must Go On(line).” Through your responses to surveys, you demonstrated how you quickly pivoted to provide services and materials to learners, educators, administrators, and your community and demonstrated your understanding and empathy for the needs of your learners.

As I close out my year as president, I am looking forward to Kathy Carroll’s leadership next year. She will bring extraordinary grace as we face the unprecedented challenges ahead of us. Please join me in supporting her as she steps into this role.

Author: Mary Keeling



Categories: Community, Presidential Musings

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