While I hope many of you are recharging after another productive year of leading your school library, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the opportunity to serve as your AASL President this year. Although I have had the pleasure of meeting some of you as a volunteer in AASL, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself to all AASL members, school librarians, educators, and all community members who understand the lasting positive impact of school libraries.
I am an Alabama native and a first-generation college graduate. I was drawn to the school library field just before graduating from the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS)—I wanted to work in an area of librarianship where I could make a difference every day. After graduating, I felt it was important to remain in Alabama, at least for a while, to try to give back to the state that gave me so much growing up. This led to my first library position as a paraprofessional in an elementary school library in Jefferson County Schools (AL); that was then followed by professional posts in two fantastic school libraries, Spain Park HS and Mountain Brook HS. During my time at Spain Park I had the good fortune of working in a part-time professional position at Hoover Public Library. There is nothing like being a school librarian and a public librarian at the same time in the same community. While I am not sure how many hours I slept during that time, having this dual role allowed me to develop relationships that helped me better serve my students, faculty, and community as a whole. Connecting people to resources is what librarianship is all about, and I bring that same outlook to my service as your AASL President.
That experience of being a full-time school librarian and a part-time public librarian in the same community, combined with my experience at SLIS, sparked a passion for working together across library types that inspires my presidential initiative. This fall AASL will launch its National School Library Standards during the information-packed National Conference in Phoenix—it’s a rich and exciting time to be a school librarian. My initiative looks to bottle the energy around the standards and share it with the larger library community within ALA through face-to-face contacts with as many divisions and roundtables as possible. Through these contacts I hope to explore opportunities for future partnerships that help strengthen libraries’ and librarians’ roles in communities across the country. By working smarter, not harder, librarians are stronger together. I look forward to seeing where that takes us this year and beyond.
Another exciting part of my service as president is the chance to visit state affiliate conferences across the country. As president-elect I visited Kentucky and New York; in addition, I also presented an ESSA workshop in Iowa. As president I will travel to Wyoming, Ohio, Maryland, Kansas, and Alaska. I see these trips as opportunities to share all of the great volunteer-driven work that AASL is accomplishing as we work toward our strategic priorities.
AASL is only as strong as its volunteers, and I am so happy to be surrounded by a group of passionate school librarians on the AASL Board this year. We are all committed to serving you and listening to your ideas as we share news on the projects under way across AASL and ALA. Your board is supported by a phenomenal staff at 50 E. Huron under the leadership of Executive Director Sylvia Norton. I hope you’ll have time this year to send a high five to your nearest board member and a thumbs up to our truly remarkable AASL staff.
Before I go, I hope you’re planning to join thousands of your professional colleagues in Phoenix this November 9-11 at the AASL National Conference. The conference committee is planning the National Conference in tandem with the Standards Editorial Board and Implementation Task Force; these groups have put together a truly transformational learning experience you will not want to miss. Don’t forget that your administrator’s registration is complimentary when you register. Is there a better way to reinforce the power of school libraries than to invite your administrator to a desert oasis along with 2,000 of your most intelligent and passionate colleagues? I think not! I hope to see you there.
Again, I am honored that you have trusted me to serve our profession in this way. I look forward to working with you and I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter (@heylibraraman) as I highlight the work of our wonderful volunteer members and dedicated staff throughout the year.
Author: Steven Yates
Steven Yates is an assistant professor and coordinator of the school library media certification program at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. He earned a doctor of philosophy in instructional leadership with an emphasis in instructional technology in 2017.