Meet the 2021 AASL Candidates – President-Elect

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 President-Elect are:

  • Laura Hicks
  • Kathy Lester

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

Laura Hicks

One year ago we were planning for students and classes coming into our libraries to learn, explore and create.  How could we know how our situations would change so drastically?  But, the move to remote learning was an opportunity for most school librarians. An opportunity to demonstrate, in a very real and concrete way, our essential role in student success. School librarians were called on to curate online tools, to produce video tutorials for technology troubleshooting, and to share their expertise in blended learning and copyright compliance. This crisis has provided a jumping off point for elevating our position in the school ecosystem; administrators had their eyes opened to how indispensable school librarians are to student success. This is one area where AASL can have a strong, positive impact for its members moving forward. Membership in a national organization provides a ready made professional learning network of thousands of like-minded colleagues who are ready, willing and able to collaborate to improve professional practice. The many AASL professional learning opportunities range from the biennial conference to on-demand webinars and classes offered through the ALL platform which can elevate our skills and professionalism.

Conversely, the pandemic also foreshadows a negative change to our profession. It is inevitable that the economic impact of the health crisis will impact public education in general, and specialist educators in particular. We are bracing for budget cuts that may result in positions being reduced or eliminated.  This is another area where AASL can have a strong, positive impact. AASL is an authority who advocates for our profession locally and nationally. They have the resources to craft authoritative messages, to assist local chapters in advocating for the importance of and necessity for qualified school librarians in every school, and to cultivate beneficial relationships with compatible organizations.

Kathy Lester

This past year’s events of the global pandemic as well as the exposure of persistent racial inequities in our nation have shown that the role of the school librarian is more important than ever. As confirmed by the AASL Town Halls and surveys, school librarians have translated and evolved their practices to support their learners both within and beyond the school library walls.

I believe that the AASL core values of learning; innovation; equity, diversity, inclusion; intellectual freedom; collaboration and its strategic plan goals of education policy, leadership activation, and research provide the foundation for AASL to support members with the next transition and to get back to something better than the old “normal.”

With the new administration in Washington, AASL has an opportunity to actively advocate for our learners’ equitable access to school libraries and librarians. It will be important for AASL to work with the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office to ensure that school librarians are included in federal initiatives, to work with AASL Chapters to support their local advocacy efforts, and to build new and strengthen existing relationships with other education and equity groups.

AASL will provide all members with opportunities for training to support and improve their work in creating inclusive libraries and in developing learners who are literate, curious, ethical, collaborative, and empathic critical thinkers and problem solvers. AASL can continue to increase opportunities and provide support for AASL members especially those from underrepresented groups to become leaders in their communities and within AASL.

If elected, I plan to draw upon my leadership and advocacy background to work with AASL membership, Board, Chapters, Sections, staff, partner organizations and stakeholders to serve AASL members, to strengthen and build relationships with decision makers, and to advocate for our learners and our profession.

Author: Mary Keeling



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