As with many organizations, the Alabama School Library Association (ASLA)’s past president leads the preparation of a slate of candidates for the year’s election. It was in this capacity that I began exploring ideas for how to grow board representation from around our state. This effort led to our successful application for the ABC-CLIO Leadership Grant. ASLA will use the money to underwrite a leadership development summit.
The association will call for applicants from all regions of the state to apply to attend the summit, which will be held at an early-career networking and recruitment event. The association hopes that, by expressly calling for a pool of applicants from all areas of the state, we can encourage emerging leaders and determine whether investing in this sort of support increases long-term association participation. A stipend for applicants will be modeled on the funds provided Alabama state curriculum and technology workshop participants, ranging between $100 and $150. That stipend can offset mileage, a substitute, or meals.
ASLA sees the summit as an equity move in step with strategic initiatives like ALA’S Spectrum Scholarship and AASL’s new Induction Program. It recognizes both the cost of professional participation and the importance of that professional participation in leadership development and seeks to defray expenses for early-career librarians accordingly.
Our affiliate includes members whose leadership deserves organizational support. This year, after much discussion, the ASLA board recommended and the membership voted to raise dues for the first time in more than a decade, to provide funding for our AASL Affiliate Assembly representation on a consistent basis. Realizing the increasing importance of work-life balance, ASLA has worked to lower the barriers to organizational participation, moving to online meetings and reviewing association bylaws with special attention to technological affordances and their influence on organizational effectiveness. All of these are efforts to make it easier to be professionally active.
ASLA also recognizes the need to market the support it provides at various points in school library careers — scholarships during educator preparation, professional development for mid-career National Board candidates, and sharing information about what is going on legislatively and with state agencies with all educators. ASLA, like any professional organization, must be aware of succession planning. The sitting board of ASLA is working concertedly to leave the organization with active officers and committee members who will continue the work of the affiliate and represent well the silent majority who continue to support the profession through membership.
Thank you to AASL and ABC-CLIO for investing in Alabama school librarians!