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 SPVS Secretary are:
- Cherity Pennington
- Carmen Redding
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates.
As we have faced education during a pandemic, I have been a proud member of AASL for immediately taking action to support school librarians in their evolving roles. COVID-19 will forever change education, and AASL must continue to do the following in order to ensure school librarians grow as leaders:
- AASL must continue to offer school librarians a wealth of research-based learning opportunities in a variety of formats. The pandemic taught us that remote learning is possible for all learners. AASL must continue to provide instruction through both in-person and online options. As technology evolves, AASL must seek out new ways to provide this professional instruction.
- The training AASL provides must include online instructional strategies. I predict distance learning will not disappear even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and many educators lack training in online teaching strategies. AASL must support more research and provide more resources on best practices for online instruction specifically for school librarians.
- AASL must continue its advocacy commitment. As the pandemic strains education budgets nationwide, AASL must be seen as a ready resource for school librarians advocating for their continued place within schools.
- AASL must continue excellent communication with school librarians. I applaud the variety of methods AASL has used to communicate: town halls, Twitter chats, blog posts, print publications, and more. As communication channels evolve, AASL must strive to embrace new tools in order to continue to reach all school librarians.
- Finally, AASL must continue its work to build relationships with stakeholders. The work of the administrative collaborative AASL began more than two years ago should continue, and AASL should seek to build similar collaborative relationships with stakeholders.
By finding innovative ways to support school librarians, AASL will continue to ensure school librarians are leaders in education.
AASL values the opinions and experiences of school librarians. In June 2020, the AASL Practice Committee shared what they gathered from a Spring Town Hall meeting with librarians across the nation. What resulted was the publication of “The School Librarian Role in Pandemic Learning Conditions.” This document demonstrates how this organization has their pulse on current issues and releases authentic information that informs and advocates for the school librarian.
I believe that AASL’s ability to listen, act, and produce is what makes their leadership so effective. As leaders, the role of the Supervisors Section is to provide a means for discussion of and action on the problems relating to all phases of school library supervision.
One issue is digital equity. We cannot provide remote education opportunities if students do not have the means to access the information.
Another issue we cannot ignore is the ever-growing demise of the certified school librarian. We can look to ongoing research such as Keith Curry Lance and Debra Kachel’s present work in the IMLS project, “The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution,” to guide our work. Ultimately, advocacy tools in the hands of local librarians will help educate stakeholders.
The continued competency of school librarians is vital when we advocate for certified library positions. Ideally, the AASL Standards Framework for Learners should be adopted nation-wide. At the very least, the framework needs to be the basis for all library standards. The ALA/AASL/CAEP School Librarian Preparation Standards (2019) should be the hallmark for determining the librarian certification process in each state.
The Supervisors Section can ensure school librarians continue to be leaders through creative problem-solving.
Author: Mary Keeling