I just had the great fortune of traveling to Minneapolis to the attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference. I’ve made it a professional goal for myself to attend this conference that occurs every two years because it’s an opportunity to network with librarians from around the world. The aspect of the conference that I love the most is that there are so many ways to get involved with the conference as a whole whether you are attending in person or learning from afar.
Georgia Librarians @AASL Minneapolis/photo source: theunquietlibrarian
As the conference comes to a close, it’s not too late for you to connect with the conversations that were started in Minneapolis. In fact, I think it’s necessary that you find at least one avenue to not only connect with the conversations from Minneapolis, but also use them to take action within your own practice, your school culture, and the education community as a whole. It’s not an excuse to say, “My school doesn’t have funding to travel to Minneapolis”. From the comfort of your own home, you can learn, reflect, and contribute well after the close of the conference.
The main message that I took away from AASL is that we are in a time of opportunity and transition. Now more than ever, we must all take on a leadership role not only within our schools, but also within the education community and beyond. We must be innovative, creative, and daring listeners, teachers, and collaborators. We must harness the resources that are available in the world and work with our students and teachers to use these evolving resources to both consume information and create new content. We must be transparent about the work that we do and digitally document our practice to not only support one another as librarians, but also to send a message to the world about the importance of our role as teachers in our profession.
What might you do to connect to the conversations at AASL:
1. Download the new ebook School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, and What’s Yet to Come?, which was crowdsourced by more than 50 authors. I started reading the book on my flight to Minneapolis, and every essay spoke to issues that I am currently wrestling with in my own practice and in my district. I love how each essay is short and concise and that I don’t learn who the author is until after I finish reading the text. This book can be a springboard for current and future conversations about libraries. However, it should be more than a springboard for conversation; it should be an invitation to take action and move forward with the transforming nature of our work. Here are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me.
School Libraries: What's now? What's next? What's yet to Come?
“New technologies do not create or fill some new need; they allow us all to express needs that have existed for generations.” ~Sara Kelley-Mudie
“The only constant is change. More than anything else, perhaps, that change is exemplified in the future librarian herself: a highly skilled teacher who is an instructional chameleon.” ~Jennifer LaGarde
“As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape. Today’s students cannot afford to wait for the ‘future librarian’.” ~Jennifer LaGarde
“I am a storyteller, information curator, database expert, extended essay supervisor, book group coordinator, wiki specialist, transliteracy coach, interdisciplinary-information literacy collaborator, approaches-to-learning leader, guided inquiry mentor, curriculum team member, open-access advocate, one-to-one and mobile device promoter, reading champion, and accreditation team member.” ~Beth Guorley
“We cannot simply support the curriculum anymore. We cannot wait for people to see our worth. Yes, part of our job is to support the staff and students, but we can also teach them and improve student learning directly.” ~Heather Hersey
“There is a good chance that the school librarian or library media specialist, as one of the school’s technology leaders, has the most organic understanding of how content and technology are most effectively co-mingled to the benefit of the student and to best help the teacher.” ~Evan St. Lifer
“What we cannot afford is to let students forget to love to read. What we cannot afford is a generation of people who forgot how to think, to imagine, to care.” ~Jesse Karp
“Libraries should not shrink as physical collections shrink; they should grow as opportunities for collaboration and cooperative learning grow.” ~Len Bryan
“As we look to the future of school libraries, I see us as a run-on sentence of sorts. People outside librarianship are often so anxious to box us in, to define us. They want to apply their grammar to the library – a place that is, at its heart, artful, authentic, and inquiring.” ~Elizabeth Friese
2. Join the twitter conversation by search for the hashtag #aasl11 and reading through the extensive documentation and reflection of hundreds of people attending in person and from afar. Contribute to the conversation by adding your own tweets and responding to tweets. Be sure to tag your new tweets with #aasl11 as well.
3. View the wealth of slidecasts, wikis, and videos from the Learning Commons. Sessions on topics such as the bookstore model, play in the library, inviting participation in the library, the image of the school librarian, iPad apps, advocacy, reimagining libraries, and more can be found on the pages of this wiki.
Andy Plemmons presenting on participation in the library/photo source: theunquietlibrarian
4. Register for the virtual conference. For as low as $99 for AASL members, you can get access to the recordings of the opening and closing sessions as well as 8 concurrent sessions. You’ll also have access to the handouts and slidecasts uploaded by presenters of other sessions. Some of the archived sessions include Buffy Hamilton’s Libraries as Sponsors of Transliteracy, Doug Johson’s Cloud Computing, a panel on what kinds of books we need in K-12 libraries, and Dr. Violet Harada’s Assessment in the library.
5. Join the conference Ning. Get connected with people who attended the conference, continue conversations from before/during/after the conference, and view feeds of tweets and photos from the conference.
In one of the sessions I attended, a leader within ALA stated that she would like to see all librarians being transformative, transparent leaders within the next 3 years. How will you get connected and take action?
David C. Barrow Elementary