It’s hard to believe it has been almost two months since the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. What a great conference! Between exceptionally wonderful coffee, uphill climbs, fabulous food, and dedicated school librarians, the ALA Midwinter Meeting was quite exciting!
Invigorating dialogue about strategic planning for the largest association devoted to school librarians set the bar for the entire conference. It was exciting to spend Friday with a large group of volunteer leaders discussing how to evolve AASL’s vision and direction. This collective brain trust was a great convergence of knowledge, thoughtfulness, and forward thinking. The group began by considering input from members and nonmembers who participated in AASL surveys and interviews. They then created well-defined and powerful outcomes, which the AASL Board of Directors began crafting into values, goals, and objectives that affirmed the direction the member leaders set on Friday. Next steps include continuing to work together to fully develop a strategic plan that the AASL Executive Committee will review during their April meeting. After that AASL staff will make the plan operational. The strategic plan will move forward to the board for approval during meetings held during ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
The AASL Board of Directors also met on Saturday, January 26, and Sunday, January 27. During those two days they reviewed AASL position statements. Several position statements were sunsetted by the board. These included:
- Common Core College and Career Readiness Standards
- Digital Content & Ebooks in School Library Collection
- Quantitative Standards
- Role of the School Librarian in Senior/Capstone Projects
The board also voted to create task forces to review the following position statements to make sure they align with the National School Library Standards:
- Appropriate Staffing for School Libraries
- Instructional Role of the School Librarian
- Labeling Books with Reading Levels
- Role of the School Librarian in Reading Development
- Role of the School Library Program
- Role of the School Library Supervisor
- School Librarian’s Role in Reading
- Support for National Board of Professional Teaching Standards Certification
- Value of Independent Reading in the School Library Program
In addition, the board discussed library school student engagement in AASL and voted to establish a task force to make recommendations to the board about how to better engage library school students in AASL.
The board was pleased to approve the reinstatement of the AASL Research Grant. School Library Connection is the sponsor of this grant. The board commends the Educators of School Librarians Section (ESLS) on their efforts to create the application, criteria, and rubric for this grant.
The board reviewed exciting changes in the structure of the AASL President’s Program and AASL Awards presentations at ALA Annual. Matt de la Peña will be the AASL President’s Program speaker on the morning of Saturday, June 22, in Washington, D.C. The AASL Awards Reception will move to early Saturday evening and will be held as a celebratory event.
The AASL Board reviewed reports from all committees, task forces, and boards that contribute to all aspects of AASL life. The board appreciates the hard work of all the volunteer members who continually create, refine, and evolve the products of your association.
The board learned about the launch of AASL’s new e-newsletter focused on school library and education news called School Library SmartBrief. I hope you are receiving yours! You can sign up for School Library SmartBrief, as well as the newly launched association-focused AASL Digest, on the AASL website at http://www.ala.org/aasl/pubs/enews.
Progress was also reported in Seattle on my presidential initiative, which actively engaged in meeting the following goals:
- Create support materials for school librarians as they champion the vital role of school librarians and the importance of school libraries among stakeholders.
- Build opportunities for AASL to exhibit and present at national stakeholder conferences to create excitement and support for school librarians by developing an understanding of the standards.
- Create programming at AASL and ALA conferences that supports giving librarians a seat at the table with principals, administrators, and classroom teachers.
- Develop a series of articles in national stakeholder periodicals that align the AASL Standards to the broader educational landscape.
- Develop a step-by-step guide for school librarians on how to present the AASL Standards to stakeholders in their schools, districts, and states.
- Create a toolkit for administrators to further promote an understanding of the paramount role of the school librarian.
I hope that you will use the materials developed by my presidential task force as springboards to open dialogues with your stakeholders about the critical importance of school libraries and the pivotal role of school librarians to learning, teaching, and, in fact, the entire school community. Watch for more information to come! And remember: full-conference registrants can bring their administrators to the upcoming 2019 AASL National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, for free!
AASL is your organization and is strong because of its committed members. Without you, AASL would not exist. You make the difference. Volunteer opportunities abound within AASL. Some of these commitments are short term and some are long. There are volunteer opportunities for every skill set, from serving on a committee, to presenting at the 2019 AASL National Conference in Louisville, to running for an elected office. Reminder: the deadline for submissions for the IdeaLab is 12:00 p.m. CT on March 18.
Speaking of the 2019 AASL National Conference, I hope to see you there! There is a great lineup of general session speakers including author Ellen Oh, co-founder, president, and CEO of We Need Diverse Books. School educator, author, research-scientist, businessman, and keynote speaker Dr. Adolph Brown, III, will bring a most engaging and unique presentation about equity and diversity to the stage. New York Times bestselling author, two-time winner of the Children’s Choice Book Award for the Third to Fourth Grade Book, and Eisner Award nominee Jarrett J. Krosoczka will be the Saturday General Session speaker. I hope you will join me to hear all of this and more in Louisville, KY, November 14-16. Registration is open!