The 2020 ALA/AASL election season is coming up quickly! AASL is continuing the practice of using the KQ website as a venue for you to learn more about each candidate. Those standing for election were asked to provide a short video introducing themselves. In addition they were asked to respond to this prompt: Select one of the four objectives under the Leadership Activation goal (http://www.ala.org/aasl/govern/strategic-plan) in AASL’s strategic plan, and speak to your role in meeting that objective.
As you read the candidates’ responses, remember that these positions reflect those approved in the recent by-laws election. Consider the future of your professional school library organization as you vote. Mark your calendar to cast your vote beginning March 9. Remember to invite your colleagues to vote as well. AASL Past President Steven Yates said it best last year, “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 Director-at-Large A are:
- Becky Calzada
- Laura Hicks
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates.
The AASL Strategic Plan includes Leadership Activation as an area of focus; I’d like to share my ideas, specifically honing in on refining existing participation models.
AASL offers many leadership opportunities for participation such as chapter meetings, committees, task forces, writing/blogging, and conference planning. These options engage members in furthering the goals and tasks of AASL but do we truly know what percentage of our membership actively participates? Setting goals is critical and looking at our organization’s data is necessary. I’d like to propose studying member involvement to determine the current reality. A study could offer insight on who participates, how members get involved and determine what keeps members engaged. This information could also shed light on members who don’t know the leadership opportunities available to them.
In the case of members who are unaware of leadership opportunities, I’d propose leveraging the personal touch by reaching out and offering options for activation. This could be the nudge many need to hear. I also propose working with chapter leaders to tap their insight by recruiting emerging leaders. Chapter leaders know many librarians within their state and their suggestions could uncover professionals with invaluable insight that could further AASL’s goals. Finally, there are many within the AASL organization whose leadership capacity is currently utilized in various positions, committees, and task forces. I propose leveraging their knowledge and relationships of others to uncover untapped member leadership capital.
It is vital for AASL to seek out the untapped human capital; opportunities allow librarians to activate their leadership skills, which in turns benefits the greater AASL organization. Librarianship has become more challenging in our ever-changing landscape; mobilizing our librarians via leadership opportunities is a way to strengthen our profession and our AASL organization.
When considering the Leadership Activation goal of the AASL Strategic Plan, I see opportunities for a director-at-large to make an impact; especially through the “Increase alternative participation models” objective. Economic, geographic, and employment concerns should not be a barrier to participating more fully in this amazing organization. Unfortunately, the comments I regularly hear are that these factors often do, in fact, make it prohibitive to engage fully.
Communication is one of the keys to addressing the dichotomy between wanting to be involved and having the support to do so. It is vitally important that members feel they are included in the information loop, and that their contributions are valued. AASL Connect is a newly updated tool that creates an accessible space where members and the board can interact, raise questions, post announcements, solicit feedback, and share best practices. My first goal is to make contacting the board both welcoming and convenient while also ensuring that concerns brought forth are clear and actionable. Furthermore, I would like to see that effective communication is a cooperative process.
Virtual participation is another key to allowing members to circumvent the barriers to increased contribution. Meeting via video conferences would negate the concerns of being able to afford attending meetings in person and securing leave from employment to do so. One facet of the ALA reorganization proposal calls for increasing virtual meetings at national conferences. My second goal is to support increasing virtual meetings for AASL as well.
I believe my experience as a building- and state-level school librarian, and on state and national school library boards, makes me well qualified to be director-at-large on the newly reorganized AASL Board of Directors. I will work tirelessly to represent all members and to be a voice for them on the board. Thank you for your vote.
Author: Kathryn Roots Lewis