Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Viewing ALA from the Meeting Room

AASL is working! As a Director on the Board of AASL and a member of the Affiliate Assembly, I have firsthand evidence that a LOT is going on in the world of school libraries, and AASL is representing us well.

I can still remember the “old days” when I attended ALA and it was like being loose in a candyland of amazing professional development. Now that I have taken on a leadership role, the ALA conference means meetings, meetings and more meetings. I’m not whining, just explaining why I missed Tracy Kidder’s presentation, couldn’t attend Lisa Scottoline or Michael Connolly’s presentations……..I know, I’m whining. But – it’s worth it!

“How can AASL insure visibility for the School Librarian in the current movement toward 21st century skills?” At the first meeting of the Board, we went through a very involved process to come up with a seemingly simply-worded statement:

MOTION: AASL will move forward in raising SLMS visibility and viability by influencing the development of the Common Core State Standards and ensuring specific recognition of the instructional role of the School Librarian within the language of ESEA.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative aims to bring about “real and meaningful transformation of our education system to benefit all students.” Read more about this important movement: http://www.ccsso.org/content/pdfs/CCSSIOnePage.pdf This initiative recognizes the need for students from every state to be prepared for success as globalization continues to stress competition with students from other high-achieving countries. Additional information is at the Common Core State Standards Initiatives: http://www.corestandards.org/

An additional group that is envisioning the future of education is “Project Tomorrow”, from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation: http://www.kwfdn.org/ and http://www.futureofed.org/

In the Board discussion, important points were made:

• AASL President Ann Martin challenged the director-elects to bring the initiatives to their regions and to work with the affiliates to do the work on the state level. The work of the Common Core State Standards needs to be brought to their individual states’ education board because this is a very fast-moving movement. We are promoting inquiry based learning, using a variety of resources – not necessarily saying at the outset that we need libraries.

• It’s based on teaching and learning; the use of the library is the natural course of action. Content-based learning must be replaced by process teaching & Learning. We are NOT demanding that libraries be funded. Rather, we predict that the administrators will realize the critical role that school libraries play in 21st century learning and fund the programs. This was the approach used by the Spokane Moms in their lobbying for school libraries.

• Julie Walker, Executive Director of AASL reminded the board that the decision makers are in our states. Directors must make contact with each state in their region and report back to the AASL Board.

• We are not ADDing to the curriculum, but showing that school libraries are promoting career and college readiness.

• Political advocacy is survival, not optional

• Some fast-moving initiatives must be watched:
National assessment of technology skills - ICT, NAEP
National Technology Plan – wiki is up and looking for feedback. Short turn-around (July 12th)
Fund Our Future.org ex: Washington and Oregon

• Forthcoming/newly-announced from AASL:
AASL statement on the position of the SLMS in Reading
25 best educational websites. MSLA member, Linda Friel was a member of the task force
Celebration of the L4L Launch
Parents’ Outreach Task Force
Research Award is returning – Raintree will be the new sponsor

Monday, Monday...

I was very excited to get to the convention center bright and early to hear Melba Pattillo Beals, author of "Warriors don't cry: A searing memoir of the battle to integrate Little Rock Central High School," and the sequel "White is a state of mind: Freedom is yours to choose."

Before Melba spoke, we were entertained by the award winning St. Ailbe's Children's Choir who wowed us with fabulous gospel music and accompanying dances. Melba, recovering from recent titanium hip surgery, recounted the events leading up to her becoming one of the "Little Rock Nine." Throughout, she reiterated that she didn't feel hate for those who abused, mocked and made her 15 year old life miserable during that year at Little Rock, and that her mother's work as a librarian enabled her life to regain a semblance of sanity by spending time in the soothing rhythms of the library and creasing new library books. She noted that she maintains her on-campus office in the back of the university's library to be near the new books, and volunteers to crease them every now and then to remember her mother and relax.

When the Arkansas governor closed the school the following year so they wouldn't be able to attend, and the KKK put a $10,000/$5000 dead or alive bounty on their heads, (huge riches in those days), all 9 students were forced to flee for their lives. She had to leave her natural family behind, and spent the rest of her days with a white Quaker family in California who treated her as one of their own. This experience led to her writing the "White is a state of mind" sequel to "Warriors don't cry."

Melba ended by noting how this experience changed her life, and that we librarians are on a journey of our own to show others the value of libraries and how librarianship can make a difference in their lives. After this fascinating talk, visited the exhibit hall, toured the historic Prairie Ave. area, then went for a run in Grant Park and through the Museum area.

In the evening, I attended YALSA's Printz award celebration, and enjoyed listening to the various acceptance speeches.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. My, how time flies!