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 Secretary/Treasurer are:
- Peter Langella
- Erika Long
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates.
To better activate and “cultivate AASL leadership involvement throughout ALA,” I’d like to help school librarians better understand the interconnectivity of library advocacy.
My home state of Vermont has many tiny schools that only have part-time librarians. Because of this, a large number of school libraries in our state are closed 1-4 days per week or staffed with paraprofessionals or volunteers. With funding for public libraries under threat (for example, the Vermont Department of Libraries gets a third of its money from the Library Services and Technology Act), many students, especially rural students and those impacted by income inequality and generational poverty, are at risk of having their entire library experience taken away.
Imagine a rural Vermont teen of the future whose school library is only open two days a week; whose public library lacks WiFi due to E-Rate cuts, while the Internet they do have is unbelievably slow because a company like Comcast put them in the “slow lane” due to low traffic numbers. Imagine how many fewer positive interactions this teen will have had with professional library staff over the course of their life. Imagine how less informed and empathetic they’d be. How less engaged in the struggle for social justice.
I’m sure you’re thinking of your own local situation. We all have them.
We need to come out of our silos and create a shared vision for library advocacy that is not just about messaging. Rather, it’s about realizing that every library is part of a network of intertwined services and opportunities. We hold the keys to the future for our patrons, and we need to come together for dialogue about who will open which door for whom, and how we can all share and move forward together.
I’m a coalition builder. I’ve seen this work in my role as the legislative concerns representative for the Vermont School Library Association, and I know this can work within ALA.
As someone who is actively engaged in AASL’s work to achieve the Leadership Activation goal of our strategic plan, it is somewhat difficult to choose one objective to focus on. I am currently the chair of the Presidential Initiative Task Force. This year, we created the Increasing Representation Mentoring Program, where members are serving as mentors to those interested in being leaders in our association; this aligns with our objective to increase alternative participation models. Our goal is to provide them with meaningful relationships that help them better understand AASL’s participation models and enhance opportunities for their involvement with the expectation mentees are appointed to a committee next year. We are also researching ways in which AASL can provide a more transparent, leadership pathway, i.e. how to get involved, what leadership opportunities exist, etc. for members to access—refining existing participation models. Finally, as a member of the State Level Leaders group, I am part of the group joining our executive director, president, and past president in leading the charge to increase administrators’ understanding of the ways school librarians can best meet the needs of their schools. This collaborative is one way in which our association provides opportunities for state and local leaders to enhance their leadership capacity. All of these efforts are new, but the work will be ongoing. Being voted AASL’s Secretary/Treasurer means I will have a platform to remain a consistent contributor of ideas and feedback from the membership. However, I am committed to continuing this impactful work for the benefit of learners and educators, even if not chosen.
Author: Kathryn Roots Lewis
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