The Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA) is pleased to have been named the inaugural recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Affiliate of the Year Award. We are truly thankful to AASL and the Affiliate of the Year award committee for recognizing the hard work and commitment of OELMA members. Having met with many representatives from other state school library organizations, we are sure the competition was tough and the award committee had its work cut out for it.
OELMA is an outstanding organization! Our members are committed to the profession and passionate about what they do. We are actively engaged in legislative efforts, advocating for school librarians in the state of Ohio. We have testified to the Senate Education Committee. We have met with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to discuss the role of school librarians in ESSA, and OELMA was represented at every ESSA meeting in Ohio, ensuring that the voice of school librarians was heard. We have also met with ODE to discuss the revision of the Ohio Library Guidelines.
In addition to offering midwinter and annual conferences, OELMA provides a variety of professional development opportunities for its members. Our most recent educational effort, OELMA’s Leadership Academy (Make Leadership Your Superpower), was funded by the ABC-CLIO Leadership Grant and an LSTA Grant from the State Library of Ohio.
OELMA is actively engaged in community efforts and is always looking for new ways to collaborate with like-minded organizations. We presented at the Ohio PTA Conference (April 2017). Since 2015, OELMA, INFOhio, the State Library of Ohio, and the PTA have collaborated to create “Reading ‘Round the Clock.” It includes professionally produced videos, tip sheets (English and Spanish), and other materials for parents and caregivers to use to help children build their reading skills in preparation for Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
The OELMA Board is always looking for ways to improve. In order to provide more outlets for members and encourage member participation, the board created subcommittees under the Teaching and Learning; Communications; Conference; Awards; Regional Representation; and Operations Committees. This enables members to get involved in the areas they’re interested. For example, a member who is interested in helping move the Ohio Library Guidelines forward could join the Standards Subcommittee under the Teaching and Learning Committee, or someone interested in books and authors could join the Author Subcommittee under the Conference Committee. Additionally, the new structure aids in the development of new OELMA leaders. In addition, we now have director liaison positions on those committees. The director liaisons are charged with helping the committees focus on their goals, which are developed through open communication with the OELMA Board and OELMA members, and are based on a shared vision designed through board, committee, and member collaboration.
We build strong partnerships. We have liaisons to the board that include the Ohio Department of Education, Kent State University’s School of Information, INFOhio, and an Administrator of the Year who helps us understand the needs and concerns of schools from the administrator’s perspective. We are a Future Ready partner with the Ohio Department of Education. We are also a part of the Ohioana Book Festival.
OELMA actively participates in AASL. We send representatives to the Affiliate Assemblies at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences. Many of our members participate on AASL committees such as Best Apps and Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.
The OELMA Board strives to meet the needs of our members, collecting data through surveys and closely following the listserv. We are effective communicators of school library-related professional development opportunities, events, and activities — using a variety of tools, such as the OELMA Blog, our newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, and the listserv to reach members. We are constantly seeking ways to help our members face the challenges of the profession and empower them to be outstanding school librarians. We are currently developing learning modules on the new National School Library Standards using funds from the AASL Past-Presidents Planning Grant.
The level of commitment our members bring to the profession is truly inspiring. Thank you, again, AASL, for recognizing this amazing group of people. Funds from this award will be used to help us continue our efforts listed above and advance OELMA’s mission “to meet the needs of Ohio’s learners as we advocate for and provide professional development to school librarians.”