I’m a voter, I always have been. I believe in the power that voters have in determining policies and direction. I am also a joiner. I believe that professional associations are vital to those they serve. So let’s investigate what our professional association does for you and why as a member voting in the 2019 ALA/AASL election is an important responsibility!
AASL provides guidance for you as a leader to transform teaching and learning through its National School Library Standards and professional learning. The association provides resources including videos, one-pagers, webinars, checklists, a learner framework pamphlet, and infographics. Standards crosswalks also are available on the standards portal for download. The association keeps you abreast of new ideas and research in the profession through its social media channels, print publications, blogs, and e-newsletters. AASL implements and hosts a robust national conference every other year, and it provides programming at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual every year. In fact, everything the largest school library association does is dedicated to the work of school librarians and enhances your role in a learner-ready school library.
As part of a larger librarian group, the American Library Association (ALA) works hand in hand with AASL to support school librarians. Your association, in conjunction with ALA, advocates for school library positions across the country. The nimble and quick work of AASL and ALA’s advocacy efforts supports you and your colleagues every day. As you might have read in the latest American Libraries, last year ALA brought together a number of librarians from various types of libraries for the Fight for School Libraries Summit. This inclusive group identified specific actions to support school libraries from within the broader association. The collective work generated from this group is ongoing. A Helen Keller quote comes to mind when thinking about the group’s work: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
As many of you know AASL is in the midst of strategic planning. In late fall members and nonmembers were asked to participate in a survey and interviews about the effectiveness of AASL. At ALA Midwinter in Seattle, a group of approximately fifty member leaders engaged in a deep look at the organization. This collective brain trust was a great convergence of knowledge, thoughtfulness, and forward thinking focused on evolving the largest national association for school librarians. The members’ candor, visionary thinking, and genius will make AASL stronger and more responsive for years to come. This was followed by a strategic planning session with your AASL Board of Directors where core values, goals, and objectives were developed. These affirmed the direction that the member leaders set. The AASL Executive Board will take the results of the two days and continue to further develop a strategic plan during their April meeting. Through collaboration with the AASL staff the plan will become operational. The strategic plan will then move forward to the board for approval during meetings held during ALA Annual Conference.
Every president of AASL has the opportunity to choose an initiative they are passionate about to champion during their time in office. My initiative has been focused on increasing the awareness and understanding that school administrators have about the critical role that school librarians play in the school community. AASL Past President Steven Yates’s initiative focused on how school librarians and AASL work together as part of the entire ALA ecosystem. AASL Past President Audrey Church’s presidential initiative was centered on the role of school librarians as leaders in their school communities. All of these initiatives are still producing results. I can’t wait to see what awaits us!
So back to where I started this blog, I’m a voter. What does this list of ways your association advocates for you have to do with voting? I contend that when you vote for AASL officers, you are exercising your right to choose leaders who ultimately influence and evolve the future of the association that shapes school librarianship. Your vote matters! Please do your research carefully. Read what each candidate stands for and learn as much as you can before you vote. AASL has a bright future made better by informed and passionate school librarians. Learn about your AASL candidates by reading the upcoming “Meet the Candidates” blog posts.
The future is now; vote learner-ready school librarians!
Author: Kathryn Roots Lewis
AASL President 2018-2019