The ALA Annual Conference is an incredible time of professional renewal, networking, and hard work for your AASL leadership. There was much work to be done at this year’s annual in Orlando as we wrapped up the year and set a course for the coming year. Throughout 2015–2016, AASL committees and sections worked diligently on challenging and complex tasks brought forth by the AASL Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and Affiliate Assembly. Heartfelt kudos to our committees, sections, and volunteers for the time and effort invested in an amazing and productive year!
The AASL Board reviewed many preliminary reports from committees and sections at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston; at ALA Annual the board examined final reports from the committees and sections and made final decisions on many items in order to move the association forward. Much more was accomplished than can be detailed here, so be sure to keep an eye on the KQ website for leadership updates and the AASL website for full board minutes.
Here are a few important highlights from the board’s meetings at ALA Annual:
- ESSA Vision for Implementation Plan. The ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Implementation Plan Working Group brought forward a comprehensive report outlining a vision for AASL to develop state, district, and local awareness, advocacy, and preparation for ESSA implementation throughout 2016–2017. Based on the report and board discussion, the board approved the creation of a task force to operationalize and implement the plan with AASL staff. (Relationship to Strategic Plan: To determine the impact of educational and technology trends within the changing societal context and how AASL can best respond; to be a stronger voice for school librarians and the profession.)
- Position Statement Revisions. Due to the passage of ESSA, there was a comprehensive review of AASL’s current position statements during a joint meeting of AASL Executive, Legislation, and Advocacy Committees. Based on the review, working groups were formed to either update existing statements or develop new statements in preparation for ESSA implementation. Once the working groups completed their work, the position statements were sent to a copyeditor for technical input. The Executive Committee then reviewed the statements for consistency of language and messaging, and the Board of Directors completed the final review and comprehensive edit and approved the statements. (Relationship to Strategic Plan: To be a stronger voice for school librarians and the profession.)
A working group reviewed and updated the following AASL position statements, which are now available on the website:
ESSA includes language for school libraries in the provisions of Title I, Part A; Title II, Part A; Title II, Part B, Subpart 2; Title II, Part B, Subpart 2, Section 2226; and Title IV, Part A. ESSA also includes the term “effective school library program,” but does not define it. Therefore a working group was tasked with developing a new position statement defining an effective school library program. The group’s work resulted in “Definition for Effective School Library Program.” Administrators, policy makers, school boards, education advocates, and school librarians can use the new statement in their plans to implement ESSA.
Finally, due to an Affiliate Assembly concern brought forth, a Technology Role Working Group was formed to review the “Instructional Classification Position Statement.” Based on the group’s findings and the authorization of ESSA, the “Instructional Role of the School Librarian Position Statement” (formerly Instructional Classification of School Librarians Position Statement) was also updated.
- National Conference and Exhibition. The National Conference Optimization Task Force spent the year reviewing the impact of AASL’s national conference on the local region and affiliate. The task force’s charge was to develop strategies to strengthen the positive impacts and identify ways to mitigate anything that might have a less-than-positive impact. Based on the task force’s report and recommendations, a committee has been formed to develop an implementation plan, which will be reviewed and approved at the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta. (Relationship to Strategic Plan: To strengthen AASL’s relationship with state affiliates and other ALA Communities.)
- Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). An IAL Grant Task Force is being formed to identify a collaborative partner to co-write an IAL grant, establish a grant concept, and work with the collaborative partner and key volunteers to draft a grant for submission for the 2017 IAL grant cycle. (Relationship to Strategic Plan: To be a stronger voice for school librarians and the profession.)
- Presidential Initiative Think Tank. Some of AASL’s great digital librarians, social media mavens, and out-of-the-box thinkers came together under the leadership of AASL Past Presidents Ann Martin and Carl Harvey. Through virtual work and a two-day intensive workshop and engagement at Hack the Association at the 2015 AASL National Conference, a detailed report of recommendations was brought forth for how AASL’s work and efforts can be more nimble, engaged, and transparent. The Executive Committee spent months analyzing each recommendation for feasibility in a volunteer organization, financial impact, and staffing impact. Based on their analysis, many changes were easily implemented into AASL’s processes and procedures. For example, amplifying the AASL YouTube channel; magnifying professional engagement leading up to the AASL National Conference in Arizona through #AASLRoadtrip; adjusting frequency and length of KQ Express; and celebrating our AASL award winners with year-long social media spotlighting. Other, more complex concepts were brought to the board for review. For example:
Social Media Editorial Board. The creation of a Social Media Editorial Board will increase AASL’s visibility and responsiveness on social media in a wide variety of topics to a greater audience. Editorial board members will be assigned to track news regarding a specific topic(s) such as transitions in technology, federal legislation, library research, book/author news, honors, milestones, research on young people, and parent and family and push the news out via AASL’s social media channels. (Relationship to Strategic Plan: To determine the impact of educational and technology trends within the changing societal context and how AASL can best respond; to be a stronger voice for school librarians and the profession.)
Social Media Awards Task Force. The newly formed Social Media Awards Task Force will recognize school librarians who make the most of their social media professional learning networks. The task force will be charged with defining the categories for nomination, eligibility requirements for nominees, developing a call for nominations, developing guidelines for the awards committee for final winner selection, and developing an overall timeline of process. (Relationship to Strategic Plan: To determine the impact of educational and technology trends within the changing societal context and how AASL can best respond; to be a stronger voice for school librarians and the profession.)
It has been quite a year, and I have been proud to represent AASL as your president. Our team of board members, engaged membership, and office staff did an outstanding job of embracing the year’s work with enthusiasm, taking on many new and exciting opportunities with strength of voice and leadership. I would like to personally congratulate and thank AASL membership and the 2015-2016 AASL Board of Directors. This phenomenal team of brilliant people was ready to lead and represent the rights and concerns of young people and school libraries. They never shied away from hard work, tough decisions, and national school library issues and policy. Board members were always thoughtful, thorough, brilliant, engaged, effective, and productive. It was quite a year with much work accomplished, and you have every reason to be proud of your profession.
Read other ALA Annual 2016 reports from AASL’s For the Record:
- AASL President-Elect
- AASL Treasurer
- AASL Representative to ALA Council
- AASL Affiliate Assembly Chair