Welcome to the new year! As I write this, I am halfway through my term as AASL President, and I am loving the journey. I’ve met wonderful people, visited amazing places, and have contributed to school librarianship in many ways I could not have imagined. Can you see yourself in AASL? This is a perfect time for you to get involved, because AASL President-Elect Kathy Carroll is beginning to make committee appointments for 2020–2021. But do you need a push?
Need a Push?
Members of the Presidential Initiative Task Force have discussed how they became involved in AASL. We believe that sharing our stories can help other members find their pathway to leadership. Erika Long says:
“Although I had been a member before attending, conference is where I was motivated to get involved—and it all started with a gentle nudge (to the audience) from past president Steven Yates and the quick completion of the Get Involved form.”
Rachel Altobelli says:
“My involvement with AASL began, at least partially, because of the weather. I was in Chicago for Midwinter and originally planned to leave before the AASL Supervisors Section meeting. Then the snow started and flights were cancelled. From my hotel, I could get to the Supervisors Section meeting without going outside, and so I went. Getting involved with a large, national organization can be intimidating, and I needed a little push from the weather.”
From that “little push,” both Erika and Rachel have continued to contribute to school librarianship and follow their respective passions.
If someone invites you to do something, it is because they see potential in you. Each AASL President-Elect uses information from the “Get Involved” form to match the talents of volunteers to specific needs on committees and task forces. So, just say yes! Rachel notes:
“My next step was saying yes to other things that intimidated me, like writing for Knowledge Quest and the KQ blog about supporting LGBTQ+ students, as framed by my own experiences as a lesbian and a former student. What I didn’t realize, before I got involved, is that stretching my comfort zone would be so rewarding, both personally and professionally.”
Saying “yes” enables you to connect with others, gain skills and knowledge, and develop your own leadership skills. Maegen Rose says:
“I found AASL when I first became a librarian. I joined ALA, AASL, and other divisions informing my practice to ensure I was grounded in the field. I became involved in AASL because I wanted to understand school librarianship as a whole. I also wanted to connect with other school librarians.”
As Woody Allen says, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” Chiquita Toure talks about noticing differences between conversations about school libraries at teacher conferences and library conferences. After attending an AASL National Conference, she says:
“I realized there was a wealth of information provided and a variety of ways to get involved to support and preserve the profession. Within my district I found the school librarian’s role diminished and positions were eliminated. While attending other education conferences I was constantly explaining the importance of the role of the school librarian and how it fits into educational settings; this was not the case at AASL. Soon after attending my first AASL I began blogging for Knowledge Quest, had several articles published, ran for a member-at-large position, and now I am a member of the Presidential Initiative Task Force.”
Maegen Rose is active in AASL’s Independent Schools Section as well as serving on the Presidential Initiative Task Force.
Erika Long, in just a couple of years, has “volunteered on multiple committees and task forces, primarily from the comforts of [her] own home, and was honored to be asked to serve as interim regional director.”
Klaudia Janek began to volunteer because, she says, “I was looking for something new, a new challenge. I think you grow as a professional by trying different things, and it’s kind of exciting to be involved at the national level.”
When you contribute your ideas, you make an impact, help your peers, and contribute to the future of the profession. Maegen Rose says:
“Volunteering in AASL has helped me to see the value in school librarians from all school types and communities having a voice in our association. It’s not only necessary that all voices and school communities are represented, but it is vital to the health and stability of our association. I encourage all school librarians to get involved in some way. There is no role too small.”
Chiquita Toure says:
“It is an exciting time to be a part of the association because your participation puts you on the front line of helping school libraries across the country transform learning.”
Erika Long agrees:
“Giving up a couple hours each month for what has been and will be a profound impact on our profession is a small way in which I can give back and support my colleagues around the country.”
And Michelle Easley says:
“As a past president of the Georgia Library Media Association I know firsthand just how critical AASL is to the profession. When public school librarians in the state of Georgia were pushing to participate in critical conversations at the state level, AASL was there to provide guidance, information, and professional learning. AASL is a lifeline and does the important work of organizing members for maximum impact! I greatly appreciate all that AASL does to support public school librarians everywhere.”
Follow YOUR Passion
Each member of the Presidential Initiative Task Force is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Because of their passion, they met at least twice a month from July to November. They have initiated several projects, including the Increasing Representation Mentorship Program, Quarterly Office Hours, and a forthcoming compilation of EDI resources for school librarians. Michelle and Chiquita contributed monthly posts to the KQ website. Rachel was the AASL member guide for the ALA Emerging Leaders group that created Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries and guest-edited the January/February 2020 issue of Knowledge Quest themed “Going beyond School Libraries as Safe Havens.”
When you say yes and show up, you will see how many opportunities there are in AASL to speak up and advance your profession.
Fill out the Form
Rachel says that “Taking the first step—filling out the form, going to a conference or meeting, saying yes to a request that seems scary at first—can be hard. Taking the next steps is amazing!”
Filling out the “Get Involved” form is important! Use the form to indicate your interest and tell AASL a little bit about yourself.
Submit your information and help advance the school library profession!