Coming to Kentucky: 2019 AASL National Conference

On November 13, Louisville, Kentucky, will welcome school librarians and other educators from across the country for the 2019 AASL National Conference. The AASL National Conference & Exhibition is the only national conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians and their roles as educational leaders. The event will bring together school librarians, administrators, authors, and exhibitors for in-depth learning and networking. Preconference workshops and concurrent sessions will be rooted in AASL’s National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. #AASL19 will give school librarians and other attendees an opportunity to dig deep into the guiding framework of the profession.

Conference registration includes:

  • Programming rooted in the National School Library Standards
  • Three keynote speakers and more than 150 concurrent sessions
  • Primary and secondary concurrent tracks for author panels
  • More than 100 exhibitors, Technology Corner, and Authorpalooza in exhibit hall
  • The opportunity for attendees to invite their administrator to attend the conference at no extra cost
  • Each attendee will receive complimentary meal tickets for Friday and Saturday lunches and coffee each morning

As a school librarian in Kentucky, I would like to welcome conference attendees to the state. Kentucky school librarian Melissa Gardner and I published an article about Kentucky school libraries in the September/October 2019 issue of Knowledge Quest magazine. The article is titled “One Commonwealth, One Common Vision.” This blog post is an abridged version of that article. I hope these excerpts generate an extra dose of excitement for all those traveling to Kentucky in November for #AASL19.

Excerpts from “One Commonwealth, One Common Vision” by Sam Northern and Melissa Gardner

In Kentucky the school library is regarded as the hub of the school community and integral to teaching and learning. The power of the school library lies in the programming, resources, services, and instruction it provides educators and learners to support learning.

Kentucky Supports School Libraries

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) values these statutes and is one of the biggest proponents of school libraries. The department makes this clear on its website, where it states: “Success in life and work includes the use of higher-order thinking skills, collaboration, innovation, and information and media literacy. Quality library media facilities, with appropriate resources and certified librarians, are key components to success in these areas, as well as to success in implementing content area standards” (2018).

Professionals Supporting Professionals

For school librarians membership in AASL and state affiliates is part of our identity. The Kentucky Association of School Librarians (KASL) is the professional organization of all Kentucky school librarians. The association is a state affiliate of the Kentucky Library Association and a national affiliate of AASL. To support the evolution of librarianship, KASL organizes an annual two-day professional conference in July that is held in the president’s home region. For many school librarians in the state this annual Summer Refresher conference is their preferred means of professional development.

Kentucky school librarians stay connected and up to date on a variety of topics with just a smartphone and a Twitter account. Our professional Twitter chats are public discussions focused on bimonthly themes with the hashtag #KyLChat. Each #KyLChat is led by a designated moderator who asks questions and facilitates the one-hour discussion.

Collaboration from the Inside Out

In 2018 KASL began offering educational outreach grants to its members. If a grant application is approved, KASL pays for the member’s registration fee for the non-library-specific conference. KASL members have presented on gamification to environmental educators, geo-tools to social studies councils, and virtual reality applications to science teachers.

Kentucky school librarians coordinate unique programs for their school communities. For example, school librarians often facilitate FIRST LEGO League (FLL), a program that challenges elementary and middle school students to think like scientists and engineers. Teams of students design, build, and program a LEGO robot to perform functions in relation to the problem.

Beyond Professional Development

School librarians in Kentucky are fortunate to have the Kentucky Virtual Library (KYVL) available to them and to their staffs and students. KYVL provides access to more than sixty research and other databases, a courier service offering interlibrary loan, and the Kentucky Digital Library from which Kentucky libraries may share their digital archives throughout the world (Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education 2019a). KYVL is a common factor throughout libraries in the state. For learners searching for information at school, at the public library, or later in a post-secondary institution, KYVL is a common resource available at most libraries.

The Kentucky Bluegrass Award (KBA) program was established in 1982 and has grown each year. Dedicated school and public librarians, educators, and university professionals comprise the committees set with the task of choosing ten outstanding books in each division for students to read and vote on in the coming year. A winner, based on the number of votes received, is selected from each age division.


#AASL19 may be in a single state, but that is not where the impact ends. School librarians will return to their home states eager to take their programs to the next level. Together, in Louisville, we continue our work that will prepare students for life beyond states’ conceptual boundaries.

Conference attendees can register to visit a Kentucky school library November 13 or 14. Visit the conference’s “School Tours” webpage for details.

Works Cited

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. 2019a. “About KYVL.” <> (accessed Apr. 25, 2019).

Kentucky Department of Education. 2018. “Library Media.” <> (accessed Apr. 25, 2019).

“Registration Opens for AASL National Conference”, American Library Association, February 1, 2019. (Accessed October 6, 2019)


Author: Sam Northern, Ed.D.

Sam Northern is a National Board Certified Teacher-Librarian at Simpson Elementary School in Franklin, Kentucky. He currently serves as President of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians. In 2014, Sam was selected for the Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars Abroad Program where he spent four weeks in China. Since then, Sam has voyaged to Antarctica as a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and worked aboard a research vessel on the Atlantic Ocean as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. From January to April 2018, Sam traveled to Finland as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program to research best practices for project-based learning. Connect with him on Twitter @Sam_Northern and Facebook @themisterlibrarian.

Categories: AASL National Conference, Blog Topics, Professional Development

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