Meet the 2019 AASL Candidates – Region 5 Director

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 Region 5 Director are:

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


Jennifer L. Anders

For several years, educational buzz words have been “tinker,” “inquiry-based,” “reflective,” “student-driven,” “diversity,” and “mindfulness.” AASL and its leaders have created a wonderful set of learning standards that capture the essence of these educational trends and have essentially defined what a library and librarian should be able to offer, while still allowing for the uniqueness of each library to shine through.

This is applicable to my library in so many ways, but the Shared Foundation “Collaborate” has been most evident in a video production project that began in my library from the ideas of a handful of seniors and one excellent sophomore. These students wanted to express their creativity through video and because I have acquired resources and built relationships with students, the library was the natural choice for a home.

Bi-weekly, we have a brainstorming session. Students pitch ideas, we discuss, and together decide what to pursue. Our editor then plans a recording schedule and the students plan interviews or events as needed. The segments include satire, health and wellness, cooking, sports, and even investigative reporting. The students are mindful of including less popular events in the news program and creating a wide appeal. Our results have been phenomenal and our viewing statistics rise with every program.

I can contribute some of the success of this program to the AASL Standards and leadership because I have been exposed through my professional learning networking and collaboration with my peers throughout the United States through involvement with the Alabama School Library Association and AASL. I have been given the secrets to leadership and the courage to explore and implement effective programs in the library. I have grown as a librarian, and as a result have grown my students into leaders, too.

I want to continue leading through AASL service as Region 5 Director.

Catherine “Cathy” Smith

The Shared Foundation with which I identify most closely is Curate. Curating appropriate, relevant resources is a skill unique to librarians. We are trained to develop meaningful collections. If  ignored, all three areas of the standards–the library, the learners, including the entire learning community–are adversely affected.

Librarians have the privilege and pleasure of reading hundreds of great books! We are exposed to eloquent words and magnificent artwork of print books, along with fantastically designed websites, and masterfully organized databases. What a joy it is to have a reason to read the latest selections by our favorite authors as well as those of our students! It is also exciting to view technological updates in websites, apps, and databases. Who else has the responsibility of doing this and calling it work?

Learning to curate is crucial to the learner, and a skill that should be taught by librarians at every level. Librarians should know their collection and their students’ needs and capabilities well enough to assess what students are garnering for their personal or academic needs. Whether writing down on a piece of paper or collecting in online tools, librarians are the only person on the campus with the ability and background to provide this necessary service for students.

Constant assessment of the collection is another important aspect of curation. National and state standards, district guidelines, and particular school needs should all be considered when adding resources to the collection. Using these guidelines to assess age, condition, and content of collections should be considered.

Finally, as school, district, state, and national leaders, we should be providing training for librarians and administrators in understanding what constitutes a good library collection. Administrators should understand and support the need for funding to provide updated digital and print resources.

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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.



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