Get Plugged In: State and National Opportunities Strengthen Our Profession

As president-elect of the North Carolina School Library Media Association (NCSLMA), I had the pleasure of traveling to Seattle to attend my first ALA Midwinter Meeting. The trip was a personal opportunity to get plugged in to the resources ALA and AASL offer. I got to travel with current NCSLMA President, Bitsy Griffin, and Past President, Brene Duggins. NCSLMA has approximately 1,800 members and it is an affiliate organization of AASL.

NCSLMA officers

Brene Duggins (left), Laura Long (center), and Bitsy Griffin (right)

My goal at Midwinter was to represent NCSLMA members well, while I learned what it really means to be a part of AASL’s Affiliate Assembly. I also wanted to soak up as much information as possible to inform our practice as school librarians in our home state. From informative AASL Affiliate Assembly meetings, Starbuck’s coffee, the Space Needle and of course the seafood market, the trip was indeed a pleasure. Darius Rucker has a song, “When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time”…so fitting for walking on glass at the top of Space Needle! I will never forget it!

Space Needle

Space Needle Selfie

Time to Collaborate, Share, and Plan

An added bonus of the trip was the time to collaborate and share with each other as officers of our state organization. Looking forward to our #NCSLMA19 Annual Conference in October, we were able to work together face to face. This is often a challenge as we are all volunteers for NCSLMA and live in different parts of our state.

Rooted in Our Standards

An opportunity to attend a national conference is one that I hope you can plan for in the future. Through the programming, speakers, authors, vendors, and host city, a national conference is indeed an opportunity to think, create, share, and grow.

Vendor Hall

Vendor Fair, Authors and More at Midwinter!

While I know that the AASL Standards Framework for School Librarians ultimately focuses on the learners in our respective schools, I also feel that the Shared Foundations can guide us professionally as well. When we attend professional learning opportunities, we are modeling the Shared Foundations we hope to develop in our students. Being plugged in at the state and national level deepens our understanding of just what school librarians do on a daily basis. Additionally, the networking, support and resources available from AASL are fantastic.

Shared Foundations that Guide Us

As I reviewed these Shared Foundations, I reflected on my time in Seattle and my work for NCSLMA. Indeed, involvement in professional growth opportunities stretches and molds us into the dynamic school librarians we are! As you read these, may they inspire you to get plugged in too!

INQUIRE: Build new knowledge by inquiring, thinking critically, identifying problems, and developing strategies for solving problems.

INCLUDE: Demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity in the learning community.

COLLABORATE: Work effectively with others to broaden perspectives and work toward common goals.

CURATE: Make meaning for oneself and others by collecting, organizing, and sharing resources of personal relevance.

EXPLORE: Discover and innovate in a a growth mindset developed through experience and reflection.

ENGAGE: Demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products independently while engaging in a community of practice and an interconnected world.

Final Thoughts

Spring is right around the corner. For us here in NC at NCSLMA, we fill vacancies on our board, hold elections, put out our call for conference proposals, call for authors and so much more. Please get involved in your state and national organizations. The friendships you cultivate and the professional support you gain are incalculable. You won’t regret it!

I am looking forward to ALA Annual in Washington, D.C., this June.  I hope to see YOU there!


American Association of School Librarians. 2018. National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians,and School Libraries. Chicago: ALA.



Author: Laura Long

Laura Long is the school library media specialist at Highland School of Technology in Gastonia, NC, a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Masters of Library Science from East Carolina University. She is a Gaston County Schools’ Delta Fellow, Pinnacle Technology Leader and member of the Pioneering Educators Team, as well as a National Board certified language arts teacher. Additionally, she is the President of the North Carolina School Library Media Association. She loves collaborating and helping her students connect with others around the world, so feel free to contact her via email or social media.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Professional Development

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