Once upon a time that is now, valiant school librarians bravely arrive at school every day to promote literacy, diversity, equity, inclusion, the right to be educated, and the First Amendment right to read. These amazing knights of knowledge, princes and princesses of peace, face down enemies of their kingdoms with swords of truth that are being battered aside by the strong foes of misinformation. We feel battle-worn but continue to stand as voices for the voiceless and strength for the weak. Make no mistake, school librarians are amazing–YOU are amazing!
It is now March again and time for the AASL membership to elect the valiant volunteers who will lead our organization forward! Please join me in cheering on the brave candidates who have agreed to stand for election, adding national leadership to their repertoire of skills. They have introduced themselves in videos on the AASL YouTube Channel. They have also written answers to the following question: “Every school librarian is a leader. What is one of your leadership traits, and how will you use that to forward AASL’s mission and vision for every learner to have a school librarian?” Please read through their answers below and be sure to vote when the ballot arrives in your inbox.
Thank you to the valiant volunteers who have served as AASL leaders and those who have agreed to lead into the future. We may each be weary in today’s climate, but together we are stronger. We are School Librarians. We are AASL.
Statements and/or videos were a voluntary option offered to all candidates. Mark your calendar to cast your vote while polls are open, March 13 – April 5.
There are two open positions on the AASL Board for a Director-At-Large. Each position looks to including a compentency related to the goals in the AASL strategic plan when considering potential candidates, 1) leadership activation or 2) research.
The candidates for a Director-At-Large position are:
The candidates for a Director-At-Large position are:
One of my leadership traits that I will use to help forward AASL’s mission and vision is to share my knowledge and experience with others so they feel empowered to lead.
ALL learners deserve the opportunity to transition into the leadership role of teacher. My greatest joy is sharing my missteps and lessons learned with others so that they can move forward confidently. I present at conferences at the local, state and national level; virtually and in person. Topics of my presentations focus on the AASL Core Values and are designed to be taken right into the school library or classroom. I have even developed my own archive of #TryThisOnMonday ideas that educators of all grade levels and subject areas can access and find easily accessible, free, innovative tools and lessons. I want to inspire confidence to advocate, integrate, and innovate library resources and the power of collaborating with school librarians.
In March of 2020 I was quick to approach the CT Department of Education to communicate the vast resources that Connecticut librarians had already built for online and asynchronous learning. Our two organizations worked together to help support educators where there were no librarians. Our partnership continued through hybrid learning and the return to in person school. We capitalized on our partnerships and momentum to propose adopting the 2018 AASL Standards to replace a 2007 Department of Education document focused on Information and Digital Literacy. Highlighting my career was the 2021 adoption of the AASL Standards by the State of CT Board of Education, acknowledging libraries and librarians as integral partners in Connecticut’s education system.
I have worked hard to empower and support librarians and libraries. I hope that my work helps to model leadership for others and show the powerful role school librarians play in meeting the needs of all learners.
Being an advocate is an important part of leadership. Part of advocacy is that every learner has a school librarian. To do that, a leader must champion the contributions of school librarians. It is crucial for school librarians to not only be an advocate for our learners, our programs, but also for our profession. As a community, we have to remain united in supporting and encouraging our members, sharing our passion for access, and giving voice to the importance of our profession. I stand committed to the mission and goals of AASL and continue to work to ensure the role of the school librarian is valued. By working with our members, attending educational opportunities and events, and cultivating leadership within our rank, will help to foster greater connections among our members. Connecting school librarians creates community – a community which is better equipped to advocate for a stronger organization and profession.
I’ve been fortunate over my years as a school librarian and LIS professor to have opportunities to practice my leadership skills. Most of those opportunities have come about through my membership in AASL and my state school librarian association (NCSLMA). I believe that my most important leadership trait is my ability to engage in and foster constructive dialog. I have found this particularly useful in my area of research – intellectual freedom and censorship in school libraries. These can be contentious topics that are emotionally charged. My ability to remain steady, listen, and elicit calm and rational conversations has been very helpful. This skill can also be applicable when furthering AASL’s mission of empowering leaders and advocating for every learner to have a school librarian. Many of the conversations around increasing access to a full-time credentialed school librarian requires the ability to persuade people in positions of power – school boards, administrators, and legislators. This can be quite intimidating. As Director-At-Large, my intent is to engage in difficult conversations to further our mission, develop strategic goals, prioritize our time and budget to align with those goals, and work to empower our members to be advocates for themselves and their students. I hope to also work to build additional collaborative relationships with organizations who share our values of equity of access, social justice, and intellectual freedom.
There are leadership traits within each of us. These traits stand out from time spent in self discovery, along with the support of others who acknowledge that specific traits assist with achieving common goals. As a leader, I feel that I exhibit various leadership characteristics that enable me to work well with others as we move forward in our field. My strongest leadership trait is managing complex topics in a manner that allows the topics to be easily understandable to others. Leaders must think strategically to envision a variety of courses of action. However the complexity of their thoughts must be communicated in a manner that enables simple execution.
This characteristic of managing complexity serves the mission of AASL. There are so many competing thoughts about what school librarians should do and how they can best serve learners and others. Members of AASL should select as leaders, those who creatively address how to best support those in the field in terms that are easily understandable by various stakeholders.
Leaders should be willing to learn new ideas and find ways to best express those ideas to others. In managing complexity, a willingness to learn serves as an asset. Advocating for the best use of resources and providing the support that others need to enhance their growth professionally is a complex task that begins with sharing a message, that although things may seem overwhelming, goals can be accomplished.
The leadership trait that I am spotlighting in this post is one that I am most proud of and one that I feel can best serve AASL.
Author: Jennisen Lucas, AASL Leadership Development Committee Chair
As the AASL Immediate Past President, Jennisen Lucas is chair of the AASL Leadership Development Committee.