Meet the 2019 AASL Candidates – Educators of School Librarians Section Chair-Elect

The 2019 ALA/AASL election season is just around the corner! AASL is continuing the tradition of using the KQ website as a space for you to learn more about those standing for election on the AASL ballot. Candidates for the 13 open positions were asked to answer the question “What Shared Foundation speaks to you, and how does it apply to you as a leader in the association?” and provide a short introductory video.

As you read the candidates’ responses over the coming days, think of what you want the future of your professional organization to be. The votes we cast will determine the future of our association, so mark your calendar to cast your vote beginning March 11 and be sure your local and state peers are casting their informed votes as well. School librarians are a critical part of the American library ecosystem and voting in our association election is a clear way to demonstrate our voice, our power, and our fervent desire for the strongest future for school libraries!

The candidates for the Educators of School Librarians Section (ESLS) Chair-Elect are:

Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates.

Melanie Lewis

Shared Foundation III, Collaborate, most strongly resonates with me. As instructional partners, school librarians have the unique opportunity to regularly engage in one of the most effective forms of professional learning: collaboration. As information specialists, school librarians can share their expertise in information literacy (and related digital and media literacies) through the collaborative planning, co-teaching, and co-assessing of lessons to help students achieve a classroom teacher’s and/or school’s instructional goals. In return, the school librarian learns from the expertise of the classroom teacher, which then enables him or her to share that new knowledge with the next instructional partner. The school librarian is the only educator on campus that has the ability and time to work with teachers and students in this manner. It doesn’t get better than this!

The power of this form of professional learning also benefits school librarians that desire to collaborate with one another to share ideas and resources, and is essential for those that may be working as the only school library faculty member at their sites or districts. Similarly, many educators of school librarians find themselves serving as solo faculty members in their colleges and universities. Having experienced this myself, I spent several years seeking out a community of colleagues that serve in a similar capacity – and found them in the Educators of School Librarians Section (ESLS). The ability to collaborate with others that share a similar mission, to prepare school librarians to provide high quality library media programs in our K-12 schools, has been invaluable. Given my experience, my primary goal as a leader of ESLS will be to foster more opportunities for collaboration between educators of school librarians, especially for those that are working as solo faculty members and may be unable to attend ESLS meetings in person.


Daniella Smith

University of North Texas portrait of Daniela Smith, Photographed on 13, February 2018 in Denton, Texas. (Trevon McWilliams/UNT Photo)

Helen Keller stated, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Her thought spoke to the spirit of collaboration. Collaboration is the “Shared Foundation” that speaks to me the most. Collaboration is essential for school librarians who serve as a central part of the school community. Without partnerships, school librarians would not be able to inquire, explore, engage, curate, and include others effectively.

Life, in general, is a collaborative activity. It is so much more meaningful when caring for and interacting with the people who we are around. This includes our global community that has the potential to be impacted by our activities. While we may decide to exist in a vacuum, someone else always holds the key to helping us to extend and enhance life’s experiences.

Collaboration is essential for transformational leadership. People choose to follow leaders who have the ability to listen and understand the needs of others. Leading is not about being authoritative or being the person that develops all of the ideas. Instead, leading is about bringing together the best ideas for the good of all constituents.

As a leader, I understand that collaboration is a life source. Without collaboration, the branches of dialogue, idea building, and trusting relationships wither away. I must be receptive to giving and receiving ideas to champion growth and help our organization adapt to change. Since, school librarians come from many different backgrounds and serve diverse populations, to properly design educational experiences, I must be open to identifying the needs of various stakeholders. My job as a leader for AASL is to embrace collaboration and use its benefits to build a stronger foundation for the future of school librarianship and our youth.


Author: Steven Yates

Steven Yates is an assistant professor and coordinator of the school library media certification program at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. He earned a doctor of philosophy in instructional leadership with an emphasis in instructional technology in 2017.

Categories: Community

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