Welcome to AASL23!

Hello AASL National Conference Attendees!

I am thrilled to join all of you for this one of a kind event that brings school librarians from all over the country and the world together to learn, connect, share, and grow. Throughout this conference we will be Standing Together for the people we serve, for each other, and for the profession we love.

My presidential focus for this year is on building relationships, and there is no better time to do so than at our national conference. You are going to spend the next few days with people who GET you. You are going to make connections that could potentially last a lifetime, or at the very least have a positive impact on you and your students. As you prepare to attend one of the happiest places on earth – the AASL National Conference – I hope you are getting just as excited as I am to be surrounded by school librarians and immersed in all things school library.

A giant thank you to our conference co-chairs, Paige Battle and Amanda Jones, the rest of the conference planning committee, and the members of FAME who volunteered hours upon hours of their time to make this an unforgettable experience. Their incredible hard work has resulted in a conference that will lift all of us up and bring us all together in celebration and solidarity. 

I am looking forward to every moment from the opportunities before the Opening Session to when we gather in a ballroom FULL of school librarians for the first time to the Right to Read Rally on Friday where we will be #StandingTogether to the Closing Celebration on Saturday night where we will dance and celebrate our time at #AASL23.

Make sure you join us for each of the general sessions as there are FABULOUS speakers who will help us start each day with insight and energy – from our first moments of welcome with ARTivist Nikkolas Smith, to an inspiring panel of speakers from Campaign for our Shared Future on Friday, to our Saturday morning with acclaimed author Nic Stone. And don’t forget to mark your schedule for the Closing General Session where we will be joined by a panel of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) author advocates speaking about the Right to Read. Moderated by Cornelius Minor, the panel will include bestselling authors Samira Ahmed, Phil Bildner, and Tracey Baptiste.

As you plan your first day of conference, if you are in Tampa earlier on Thursday, be sure to pop by the Welcome Home: AASL Welcoming Session from 12:30-1:30 PM. This is a great place to meet up with old friends or to make new ones. Start building those conference relationships right away!

I would also recommend stopping by the IdeaLab and Poster Sessions from 1:00-3:00 PM as these are great ways to get a ton of information in a short amount of time. It’s sort of like speed dating but with a professional development focus. Come out and give these great folks some of your energy and attention before you join us for the Opening General Session.

I would also like to personally invite all of you to attend the Right to Read Rally – Standing Together organized by the AASL Chapter Assembly happening on Friday night from 5:30 – 6:30 PM. Join your colleagues as we celebrate the Right to Read! We are #StandingTogether to honor AASL Chapters and hear from inspiring speakers who STAND for intellectual freedom. We will begin with the traditional chapter parade and salute school librarians and the impact we have on the lives of our students.

I started looking through the conference app this weekend, and I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely in awe of the amazing sessions that have been selected for this conference. I have more picked out than I can physically attend during each time slot, and you probably have too. I know no matter what sessions you attend, you will gain valuable information and ideas. A HUGE thank you to everyone who submitted session proposals and to all of those who are presenting in some capacity throughout the conference. Thank you for being willing to share your experience and expertise with all of us!

Make sure to visit the exhibits hall often to pick up fun giveaways to take home and share with your people, to meet authors, and to chat with your fellow attendees. The AASL exhibits hall is an awesome place where the vendors are only here for school libraries! Be prepared to have your badge scanned for prizes and make a plan for how to get all your swag home. Also, be sure to check out the AASL store where you can see many of the AASL publications in real life and purchase copies to take home. You can also attend author talks with AASL authors (who are school librarians just like you) AND get your books signed by these wonderful folks.

My wish for you, more than anything, is that you walk away from your time at the AASL National Conference feeling energized and inspired as you head back to do the important work you do every single day in your schools, districts, and states.

And, please, if you see me walking around, stop me and say “Hi!” I’d love to hear your school library story.

Author: Courtney Pentland, AASL President 2023-2024

Categories: AASL National Conference


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