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.
The candidates for President-elect are:
Hannah Byrd Little
Back in 2019, I took the Gallup Clifton Strengths test and discovered my top leadership trait is Learner. This signature theme and behavior is one that has benefited me in my personal journey by allowing me to increase my competency as a librarian. As I encounter situations, I ask questions, confirm my understanding and seek to uncover entry points for discussion, collaboration or problem solving.
How does this personal strength connect to the mission of AASL? How can my strength forward the vision for every learner to have a school librarian? I believe the learner strength I possess offers opportunities to get to know fellow professionals, uncover unrealized strengths in others and gently nudge people into action. Building relationships benefits us all and increases motivation, setting the stage for trust. It’s within these small moments, where trust thrives.
Enter the AASL organization; there is so much work that is done behind the scenes. There are committee assignments, communities of practice, blogging and writing for KQ, conference planning, advocacy, and so much more. My past experiences as an AASL Director at Large, within ALA Policy Corp, as an Intellectual Freedom committee member, TASL Chair and TLA legislative committee participation have prepared me for this moment.
I believe in the work each and every school librarian does to support learners of all ages. We are in the midst of some very challenging times, yet our core values of learning, innovation, equity, diversity, inclusion, intellectual freedom and collaboration call on all of us to answer with commitment and courage to support our learners. We know the value of school librarians and recognize the importance of sharing stories of the work we do. Together we can amplify the messaging within our communities, states and nationally. Collectively, we show how school librarians can make a difference.
Hannah Byrd Little
The strategic vision of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is “Every school librarian is a leader; every learner has a school librarian.” AASL leadership could not have predicted in June of 2019, when they published the strategic plan the unprecedented hurdles we would face in our industry over the past three years. If a global pandemic was not enough, the heaping of book challenges and dangerous legislation across the country has affected many school librarians.
A favorite quote from Ralph Marston is, “Being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It’s leadership.” I must admit that being positive when so much negativity is swirling in our orbit has been a great challenge. However, if I have a single leadership trait, it would be “intentional optimism.” This persevering positive outlook is empathetic and is not dismissive of our challenges. I believe maintaining a positive perspective can inspire and motivate others to work towards our shared goals.
Some of our AASL shared goals include partnering with school administrators; I applaud the AASL leadership for reaching out at leadership events and raising the profile of school librarians as indispensable. Another shared goal is working with regional educational organizations on policies and legislation to ensure school library positions and safeguard trust in school librarians as professionals. Additionally, we want to work with our parent organization ALA as they can provide additional resources and initiatives to reach our goals.
By the way, you will not find “intentional optimism” on any leadership skills list. But I enjoyed the self-reflection that comes with strength-finding surveys and temperament tests. I concluded that knowing your strengths is helpful. We need school librarians to be leaders, and we need to attract outstanding professionals to the industry. So I ask, “What is your leadership trait or library superpower?”
Author: Jennisen Lucas, AASL Leadership Development Committee Chair
As the AASL Immediate Past President, Jennisen Lucas is chair of the AASL Leadership Development Committee.
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