Meet the 2021 AASL Candidates – Director at Large A

The 2021 ALA/AASL election season is almost here! This year, AASL continues its “Meet the Candidates” series on the KQ website. The association has invited each candidate to use this space to introduce themselves with a short video and a blog post responding to this prompt:

“The pandemic has presented challenges and opportunities for all educators. As you consider the next few years, how do you see AASL ensuring school librarians are leaders in the evolving educational landscape?”

Each candidate offers strong qualifications for serving in leadership capacities throughout AASL. View their videos, read their blog posts, and consider how each one can shape the future of our professional association. Join them for a Q&A session at the AASL Town Hall on March 3, at 6:00 p.m. Central to learn more. Then vote! Vote to show your support, and vote to make your influence felt. Encourage other AASL members to vote as well. Let’s demonstrate our leadership within ALA by standing strong with our candidates and voting in this election.

Mark your calendar to cast your vote while polls are open, March 8–April 7.

The candidates for Director at Large A are:

  • Rebecca Morris
  • Jennifer Sharp

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

Rebecca Morris

When COVID-19 brought unprecedented and fast-changing circumstances for schools, from remote instruction, to new safety restrictions at school, to deep concern for students’ health and well-being in times of public health crises and ongoing, systemic racial injustice, school librarians responded with an array of transformative and caring actions. AASL’s members and leaders have lifted up one another and their school communities throughout these crises. As we look ahead, we might view the Goals of AASL’s Strategic Plan with new understanding and potential.

In RESEARCH, we can continue to analyze data on school librarians’ situations and priorities, recognizing that circumstances are shifting frequently and often unexpectedly. Further, we should continue curating, building, and sharing AASL’s Pandemic Resources for School Librarians, and expand the collection to include Chapter contributions, scholarship from school library researchers, and an emphasis on elevating equitable and inclusive practices and materials reflective of diverse people and perspectives.

In LEADERSHIP ACTIVATION, we must build upon current Town Halls, Virtual Membership Meetings, Snapshot Surveys, and professional development toward understanding and support for members’ needs, priorities, and uncertainties. To nurture volunteer and leadership potential in members, we might consider renewed reflection and evaluation of processes and experiences in AASL volunteer roles. As an organization, we might work to build and sustain efforts around pandemic response with ALSC and YALSA, activating the leadership and responsibilities that we value as divisions serving young people and families.

As advocates for and practitioners of EDUCATION POLICY, AASL has the responsibility to model timely advocacy efforts, such as AASL’s February 2021 letter to President Biden’s education transition team. As all of us have discovered new flexibility and practices for communicating, learning, and collaborating, AASL can continue to explore and implement new settings and audiences for elevating the work of school librarians among education advocates, stakeholders, and decision-makers.

Jennifer Sharp

I believe that AASL will drive our profession into the future and ensure that school librarians are leaders in an ever-changing educational landscape by focusing on communication, advocacy, and professional development.

First, AASL should continue to work alongside other organizations and stakeholders in the educational community, as well as with our own members, to understand new and ongoing challenges in schools and districts. Reciprocal communication is vital; AASL works to keep members informed, but also provides a platform for school librarians to share insights and expertise. Without effective communication, there can be no progress – so this is an integral part of the leadership that AASL can provide.

Next, AASL should continue to advocate for equitable access for learners, to emphasize the critical role that school librarians play in their school communities, and to ensure that legislators, leaders, and administrators understand the value added to a learner’s experience when they have access to a robust, well-supported school library staffed by a qualified school librarian.

Finally, AASL should continue to provide high-quality professional growth opportunities in order to build the capacity of school librarians. AASL has built a strong community of learners through publications, conferences, webinars, and beyond; this platform can and should continue to support librarians as they pursue professional growth that aligns with the changing needs of their learners and school communities.

In order for AASL to remain at the forefront of what’s happening in school libraries and the educational community as a whole, we must take a proactive approach, work together to understand challenges, and find innovative solutions for addressing these challenges. A continued focus on these three vital elements–communication, advocacy, and professional learning–will ensure that AASL is well-positioned to empower school librarians as leaders in education now and in the years to come

Author: Mary Keeling



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