The annual ALA conference is always an opportunity to develop librarian pride. The keynote speaker opening our conference this year was attorney Roberta Kaplan, who was instrumental in arguing the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. Kaplan spoke to librarians on the day that the Supreme Court nationally legalized same-sex marriage, which also happened to be the start of Gay Pride weekend in San Francisco. To say there was some excitement in the city would be an understatement.
Another highlight of the conference was Saturday’s opening speaker Gloria Steinem, inspiring leader of the feminist movement in the 60s and 70s. Sporting her iconic hairstyle and seemingly ageless, she urged the standing-room-only audience to commit to some form of activism throughout life and cited the accomplishments of many early American female activists who inspired her to become a catalyst for change. Her new memoir, My Life on the Road, is due to come out in October.
And as always, we spent a fair amount of time in the vendor halls getting swag to ship home to our friends in Massachusetts. ALA swag will be part of the fun at our EdCamp event in late September.
A highlight of the conference was the AASL Leadership Summit, a day-long workshop organized by AASL leadership to both help this organization work more closely with its state affiliate organizations, and to help AASL develop national leaders for the school library community. Anita Cellucci and Judi Paradis attended this event as MSLA representatives.
After a welcome by outgoing AASL President Terri Grief and Executive Director Sylvia Norton, we spent the morning digging into the work AASL is doing to support school librarians and their state organizations. Members of the AASL Board explained how the organization is structured, and described how concerns from each region could be heard and addressed at the national level. There has been a significant restructuring of AASL representation and committee work over the past few years, and the Leadership Summit provided a good opportunity for school library leaders from around the country to see how they could most effectively work with AASL.
In addition to helping delegates understand new AASL governing structures, the Leadership Summit provided helpful information about building state organizations with tips for growing and maintaining membership, using AASL’s advocacy tools, and using AASL online discussion groups and professional development materials to strengthen statewide support for school librarians. We concluded the event by rotating through a series of “best practices” discussions that focused on everything from communication strategies, conference and professional development ideas, and legislation.
Much of the work AASL takes on at national meetings is done through the Affiliate Assembly, a group comprised of representatives from each state that meets in regional groups at the Midwinter and Annual ALA meetings. Regional groups elect directors, representatives, and coordinating teams to organize their delegations and work on specific initiatives. Affiliate Assembly delegates are expected to share information about library concerns from their region through a formal process that culminates with an annual vote where affiliate assembly members ask the AASL national board to take specific actions on member concerns. For example, this year Region 1, which is comprised of the New England states, put forward a concern regarding the time and space required for online mandated tests. After coordinated discussion over two meetings, Affiliate Assembly members voted to ask the AASL Board to examine the impact mandated online testing is having on access to library materials and services. Please see the related Forum article for details about all of the concerns and commendations that were forwarded to the AASL national board.
Kathy Lowe and Judi Paradis participated in the meeting of the AASL National Conference Committee. Kathy is Conference Co-Chair, with Debra Kay Logan of Ohio. The conference will be held November 5-8 in Columbus, OH. Judi is co-chair of the Program Sub-Committee, which reviewed, selected and scheduled the conference sessions. The conference committee is made up of school librarians from around the country. It has been meeting for the past two years at ALA Annual and Midwinter conferences and holds monthly conference calls to plan all aspects of the program. You can find all the details on the conference website. We hope Massachusetts will be well-represented at this bi-annual conference exclusively for school librarians.
Amy Short attended the AASL Supervisor’s Section (SPVS) meeting. SPVS focuses on issues of and collaboration between school district library supervisors and directors. In addition to discussion about many AASL organizational initiatives, SPVS also agreed to begin contributing monthly posts for a Supervisor’s Corner blog as part of the Knowledge Quest online community. These posts will be written from the perspective of supervisors advising building-level librarians on best practices. Upcoming topics will include supporting literacy, diversity in collections, organizing author visits, and crafting annual reports.
President Takeaway - Anita Cellucci:
The AASL Affiliate Leadership Summit was a valuable experience, as the new president of the association, in that it allowed me to look at MSLA conceptually - through the lens of myself as a leader and also through the lens of development of leadership from within MSLA membership.
In order to do this effectively, in my opinion, it is necessary to understand the psychology of leadership development. The Summit was helpful in understanding the key components of leadership development, membership development, and how AASL can support through these efforts.
Here are my big takeaways from the Summit:
- Lead by example:
- Respect different points of view
- Trust others to do the job
- Know the big picture
- Have reasonable demands and provide support
- Help to develop individuals
- Think about MSLA as an avenue to leadership as well as recognition at AASL
- Nominate our New Librarian Awardees to AASL Emerging Leaders
- Actively seek out the talents of our membership
- Stay open to innovation
- Think about MSLA membership as a community
- Ask for engagement and provide opportunity that is meaningful and influential to members
- Invite members to become part of our community in ways that give value to our members
My hope is, throughout my term as president, that members will reach out with ideas and innovative thoughts about how we can continue to make MSLA relevant, productive, and important, to the role of school librarians in education.
Anita Cellucci is the Teacher Librarian at Westorough High School, Judi Paradis is the Librarian at the Plympton Elementary School in Waltham, Amy Short is the Assistant Director of Library Media for the Cambridge Public Schools, and Kathy Lowe is Executive Director of MSLA