What Do All the AASL Presidents Do?

On November 1, AASL sent members a notice informing them of an upcoming vote on the proposed changes to the AASL Bylaws. Voting on the changes will open on December 2 and close December 16.

The proposed changes to the bylaws reflect an updated board structure that was approved by the AASL Board of Directors at its June 2019 meeting. The proposed bylaws list voting and elected members to the AASL Board as “the Association’s president, president-elect, immediate past president, secretary/treasurer, the AASL representative to the ALA Council, three (3) directors-at-large and an Affiliate Assembly representative.” They will be joined by the AASL Executive Director as an ex officio, non-voting member.

One comment on my October blog post asked about the purpose of the third president. What do all those presidents do?

The president elect participates in executive committee meetings and board meetings, attends committee meetings as a board liaison, represents AASL on three visits to affiliate conferences, serves on ALA’s Committee on Committees, and appoints approximately two hundred people to about twenty AASL committees. The president elect also participates in developing the slate of ALA officer candidates and assists the ALA President with nominations to ALA committees.

The president provides orientation and training for board members and committee chairs, chairs monthly executive committee meetings, works with committee chairs and the executive director to set the direction for new efforts, and visits state affiliates. From my perspective, one third of the way through my presidential term, the work of president is challenging and engaging and requires daily attention to advance the work of the association. As the spokesperson for AASL, I’ve been interviewed by the press on a variety of topics, and about once a month I sign advocacy letters on behalf of school libraries and librarians. These letters, addressed to local- and state-level policy makers such as superintendents and school boards, advocate for full staffing and equitable funding for school libraries. In addition, presidents write monthly KQ blog posts and five President’s Columns for Knowledge Quest. Each president has the option to advance an initiative of their choice, and I have written in this blog about the work done by my amazing presidential task force. I attend all presidential task force committee meetings and will hold “office hours” several times between December and May. We will use Zoom to host informal times when school librarians can ask questions about equity, diversity, and inclusion. In September and October, I had the pleasure of visiting three remarkable state affiliates at their annual meetings, and I will visit four more in the spring.

The immediate past president also visits two state affiliates during the year. The past president’s most important responsibility is to chair the AASL Leadership Development Committee, which prepares a slate of candidates for the spring ALA/AASL elections. The past president is well-prepared for this work. By the time the past president undertakes this work, they will have visited eight to ten affiliates; had two full years to get to know emerging leaders in AASL; and have developed a deep knowledge of association priorities and needs moving forward. This experience prepares the past president to work effectively with the leadership development committee to seek diverse candidates to represent all regions of our country and different kinds of libraries, and to maintain a balance of perspectives, knowledge, and skills on the board. In addition, the past president participates in the “I Love My Librarian” program and represents AASL at the I Love My Librarian celebration and awards ceremony. Finally, the past president shares deep institutional knowledge as they mentor the president elect and help the board as it sets policy for the association.

Your AASL presidents lead the association in different ways, and each contributes something different and valuable. The work is immensely rewarding, and all of us thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve.

Let us know if you have any questions about the bylaws changes by posting in the comments section to this post. Remember to vote between December 2 and 16!

Work Cited:

AASL. 2019. “AASL Bylaws (Proposed November 2019).” http://www.ala.org/aasl/about/elections.

Author: Mary Keeling



Categories: Association News, News

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