As I look back professionally, I am thankful for the influence AASL experiences have had on myself and my school library’s efficacy. I firmly believe that without AASL and the professional/personal learning network instrumental in my professional growth, I would not be the school librarian I am today.
Research has shown that a tenet of an effective school librarian is being actively involved in the profession. Outgoing is not in my nature, yet I have worked hard over the years to push myself to be less introverted. I began getting involved, as many of us do, at the state level. I tried out a committee and realized I enjoyed the experience and embraced the opportunity to work with and develop lifelong friendships with fellow professionals. Once I realized how much fun it could be to influence change beyond my school, I took on some leadership roles. I have been our state student choice book award (YHBA) committee chair, the developer of a scholarship and scholarship fundraiser, state conference chair, President, Indiana liaison to AASL’s Affiliate Assembly, and much more. Through this networking, I gained enough confidence to write articles, books and presentations in order to share my experiences with my peers. My AASL engagement grew from committee member, committee chair, participating in Affiliate Assembly, sharing online resources, and other professional growth opportunities. This has allowed me to develop my organization, leadership, and team building skills, as well as strengthen my writing and speaking aptitudes.
Personally, I have definitely come out of my shell. I used to be shy and reserved to the point that I sat at conferences alone and afraid to speak to anyone around me. But through getting actively involved, I have learned how to come out of my shell and can now speak with ease with strangers and actually initiate conversations, showing others my love for our profession and my sense of humor. In the beginning, unless I was speaking to students, the idea of public speaking would cause my body to shake uncontrollably and bring tears to my eyes. Even though I believe it is important to give back to the profession and share with our peers, it was still quite a reach for me and a surprise to both myself and my family when I was able to overcome my fear of public speaking. I was given speaking opportunities at local and state conferences, then national, and now I speak to crowds of a thousand with only the slightest initial tremor. I can engage professionally through webinars, Google hangouts, and other online communicate tools with barely a thought.
With the confidence I have gained, my involvement, and the importance we place on helping each other, I am a much better school librarian for my community. When I look back over the past few years, I realize the belief others placed in me has been transformative. I am amazed by the strength I have received from my professional involvement. I know I still have a lot to learn and a great deal of maturing to do, but I know I can do it with your help, the support of our state and national organizations, and the opportunities for learning and growth professional involvement affords.