A Look Back at a Week in Washington, D.C.
As I type this post, I have a serious case of writer’s block. I just returned from five days in Washington, D.C., attending the ALA Annual Conference. It is indeed my privilege to represent the members of the North Carolina School Library Media Association at Affiliate Assembly. Meeting school librarians from across the country who are committed to moving our profession forward with fidelity is a wonderful experience. If you ever have the opportunity to get involved with your state affiliate organization, please do so!
Highlights of the Trip
Here are just a few highlights from my trip to ALA Annual:
- Catching up with colleagues from my state of North Carolina and from across the country
- Visiting state representatives’ offices to advocate for continued support of school libraries
- Meeting Hoda Kotb and Marney Welmers (AASL supporter and generous grant sponsor)
- Attending Affiliate Assembly meetings
- Attending the AASL Awards Reception, followed by an amazing dinner with a wonderful, eclectic group of librarians
- Attending the 2019 Newbery Caldecott Legacy Banquet
- Sightseeing in DC; I was able to visit the Supreme Court Building, Capitol Hill, the Library of Congress, the White House, and a number of national monuments
This recent trip got me thinking about AASL’s Shared Foundations, and specifically about the sixth foundation, Engage. For Engage, AASL’s National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries states, “To flourish in our global society, maintaining engagement in their learning is a key practice of successful learners. School librarians support and promote learners’ engagement and empowerment by modeling and explicitly teaching best practices in information and resource use. To engage in a global society as part of an interconnected learning community, learners must demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products” (p. 43).
(Bold text added for emphasis above.)
So many unique, interesting, dedicated and creative people came together in Washington, D.C., to share, grow and learn. As I had conversations with colleagues, I was struck by the value of this experience and how nice it was to meet people. We use social media these days to network, but there is something to be said about the power of face-to-face interactions. I am often struck by how people use social media in different ways that not only build people up, but also openly criticize and tear down, all from behind the safety of a computer or phone screen.
Social media platforms are indeed powerful tools in our global society. I use them, enjoy the ease of sharing and the readily available information. For me, the beauty of face-to-face conversation is the ability to engage in dialogue that can be authentic and honest. It is an art, but honest dialogue fueled by respect is a powerful experience. This week, I was reminded to engage more. Wonderful conversations over shared coffee, a meal, in a session or in the exhibit hall was evidence of the power of face-to-face conversation.
Modeling the Art of Conversation
As school librarians, we have the opportunity to use social media tools to impact our libraries and stakeholders and to grow professionally. It is my hope that as librarians we can indeed model the sound use of social media in a way that moves our profession forward. Certainly, we share ideas and highlight the wonderful things that happen in our libraries. We participate in Twitter chats. We “follow” people who we value. But, I also hope that in addition to relying on social media to do that, we remember the power of authentic conversation between people, face to face or on the phone. Building relationships, real relationships, goes a long way in accomplishing tasks and moving school librarianship forward in a positive light.
At annual conferences, we engage with each other in a personal way, truly sharing and growing. Whether in your school, your district, or your state library association, may we all remember to get out from behind the social media screen and ENGAGE with one another. These authentic conversations are opportunities to learn from one another, respectfully agree or disagree with others, but they are tangible ways to strengthen us and help us “flourish in our global society” (p. 43). What powerful role models we can be for our students, too!
American Association of School Librarians. 2018. National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Chicago: ALA Editions.
Author: Laura Long
Laura Long is the school library media specialist at Highland School of Technology in Gastonia, NC, a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Masters of Library Science from East Carolina University. She is a Gaston County Schools’ Delta Fellow, Pinnacle Technology Leader and member of the Pioneering Educators Team, as well as a National Board certified language arts teacher. Additionally, she is the President-elect of the North Carolina School Library Media Association. She loves collaborating and helping her students connect with others around the world, so feel free to contact her via email or social media.