Fall is one of my favorite seasons. The shorter days and cooler evenings have typically ushered in a comforting routine, and the new school year would be well under way. Yet today few things are as they were a year ago. I, along with the rest of the world, have had to become adept at handling change. I now realize that either by choice or circumstance, nothing stays the same and change is needed for growth and sustainability. At no time have resources and national guidelines been more important for educators than during the last few months. Be sure to bookmark and frequently check AASL’s “Pandemic Resources for School Librarians” webpage for the most current information and resources.
Even before the pandemic, AASL was engaged in changes to enable the association to better meet the mission of empowering learners to transform teaching and learning. Below are just a few from the past year.
AASL continues to evolve to best meet the needs of its members and the profession. AASL adopted its current strategic plan in June 2019 during the 2019 ALA Annual Conference. It includes the following categories and goals:
Goal: AASL builds capacity for leadership at all levels.
Goal: AASL influences local, state, and national policy to ensure that school libraries are well-funded and fully staffed with full-time, certified school librarians and dedicated support personnel.
Goal: AASL advances research that informs school librarian practice.
AASL has also streamlined the association and enhanced its effectiveness through changes to the board structure. In 2019, AASL adopted new bylaws that resulted in structural changes to its leadership. Previously, twenty people sat on the AASL Board of Directors, and there were two in-person meetings held at ALA Annual and Midwinter and two quarterly virtual meetings. Between board meetings, the executive committee (three presidents, treasurer, division councilor, a board representative, and the executive director) met monthly. For several years, AASL leadership had discussed changing the board structure to comprise a smaller group based on leadership competencies to guide the strategic work of the association, rather than geographical or section representation. The goals of these proposed changes were to streamline governance as modeled by ALA initiatives, strengthen leadership capacity as outlined in the AASL Strategic Plan, and increased board effectiveness. During the 2019 ALA Annual Conference the AASL Board voted to reduce its size from 19 to 9 elected members (three presidents, secretary-treasurer, division councilor, AASL Chapter representative, and three directors-at-large). The AASL membership voted to approve this change to the bylaws in 2019. We now have scheduled monthly meetings that allow for a faster and more flexible response and can schedule additional meetings as needed.
During the 2020 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, the previously named AASL Affiliate Assembly voted to adopt the term Chapters to reflect terminology of other ALA state library associations. In addition to the AASL Board of Directors, leadership from AASL’s affiliated state and regional organizations traditionally met at ALA Midwinter and Annual Conferences. Chapter leadership met during spring 2020 and approved Chapters Assembly meetings be held four times a year. The new Chapters Assembly structure empowers individual state associations to gather those with common interests in Affinity Groups and to bring forward any concerns as they develop throughout the year. Commendations will continue to be presented for consideration to the AASL Board during the ALA Annual Conference.
Communicating with members is a priority for the association. AASL offers a variety of channels of communication to appeals to all members.
AASL Digest: e-newsletter that includes the latest AASL news, SLR articles and KQ issues, governance information, and new resources; member spotlights and currents; National Conference information; AASL Chapter news; and a monthly calendar of events.
Frequency: Distributed the first business day of every month
ALA Connect Digest: e-mail that details posts from ALA/AASL Connect Groups, Communities, and Committees.
Frequency: Can be personalized for a daily update
School Library SmartBrief: e-newsletter that provides information for school library and education professionals. Sections include Learners and Literacy, Today’s School Libraries, Professional Leadership, Policy Update, and AASL News.
Frequency: Distributed every Tuesday
AASL Friday Forecast: e-newsletter that provides a quick and easy reference for AASL members to view upcoming deadlines, events, and the work of the association. Maybe I’m the only person who is obsessed with this information outlet, but I think it’s concise and thorough overview of upcoming events has made my life just a little bit easier to manage.
Frequency: Distributed every Friday
For questions about any of these communication vehicles, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, let’s not forget about our social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Be sure to tag us (#aasl) when you share information and events.
As an ALA division, AASL also is impacted by changes in ALA itself. Please read your ALA communications about CORE (ALA’s newest division), Forward Together, and other changes being explored by membership.
Just as in our personal lives and individual learning communities, it is important to support and facilitate essential change and to be active participants in the process. With that in mind, be sure to stay informed and to get involved!
Author: Kathy Carroll, AASL Leadership Development Committee Chair
As AASL Immediate Past President Kathy Carroll is chair of the AASL Leadership Development Committee.