I am both humbled and honored to introduce myself as the new president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). As president, I would like to focus my year on how we weave the stories of our school libraries into the fabric of our learners’ education. So, as we begin, I would like to share a little of my own story with you.
I am the oldest of five children, and the public library was always the first place we went when we moved into a new town. As a child, it felt like my family was constantly moving, mostly due to the economics of the time and my dad’s job changes. No matter what family decisions my parents made, we were always welcome at the library. I do not remember my elementary school libraries, which my mother says is because we didn’t have them. My first school library memory was in middle school, when we spent two weeks sitting in stiff chairs with a much older lady teaching a very boring lesson on how to use the library catalog (which I had been doing since I was four years old). That is when I decided to never become a school librarian.
When I went to graduate school to become a librarian, I started to think a little differently. Despite my experiences, I still loved libraries and the organization of information, and I wanted to teach others the joy of learning through the library that I have always felt. The more I delved into the amazing study of school librarianship, the more I became enthralled by the possibilities that effective school librarians could offer all learners by the myriad ways they enrich education.
This school year will mark my twentieth as a school librarian, and every year I learn something new and experience amazing opportunities–usually thanks to my learners. I have worked with learners from kindergarten all the way to high school graduation. I am always amazed at their insight, courage, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, and willingness to learn. The inquisitive nature of our youngest learners and the devotion to justice of our older learners give me hope that the future of the world is in good hands.
We need to ensure that our stakeholders hear the stories of these learners as they interact with us in school libraries. We need to share not only the statistics of how many books circulated and how many times our databases were searched, but also the more amusing anecdotes of when learners connect over a project and break into songs from Les Miserables or debate the ethics and logistics of staging a walk-out. Our stakeholders need to know about the stories of the students who come to the school library every day, even when they can’t face the rest of their classes, or the ones that can only survive online school by coming to work in the school library. In addition to classes, my school library has hosted college application days, college signings, book tastings, and first dates. It is a place where all students belong, and in this post-pandemic world, that may just be the key to their engagement.
So, I hope you will join me this year in celebrating the stories of how we weave our spaces, expertise, and resources into the fabric of our learners’ daily educational lives. Once upon a library, they lived happily ever after.