Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chicago Take Aways

Now that I've had a few days to shovel and think, here are some thoughts on our trip to ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago that I hope you'll find enlightening:

  • The AASL Conference in Columbus next October should be terrific.  Kathy Lowe and Deb Logan are the co-chairs and have assembled an outstanding group to plan a cutting-edge conference for school librarians and their administrators,  The conference committee is offering free registration to any administrator accompanying a librarian.  The author line up is nothing-short of astonishing, and the keynote speakers, preconference offerings and local events sound great.  We were all especially taken with the social media platform being used for the conference.  Check out the "rebel mouse" feed here.
  • Anita Cellucci and I spent hours and hours in conversation about the future of MSLA.  The more I learn about Anita, the more impressed I become.  She's smart, thoughtful, and earnest about her own practice.  She's forward-looking about the school library field, and asks lots of good questions.  We talked a lot about how we can make our organization more useful to members, provide more targeted professional development, and more networking opportunities.  
  • Kathy Lowe, Amy Short and Jennifer Reed know everyone.  When you travel with these women, you are constantly meeting librarians who are at the top of their game.  The informal conversations in hotel lobbies, at dinner, and before and after sessions are often enlightening and provide us with connections that can guide us in our work with the Massachusetts School Library Association.
  • The technology at Midwinter was frustrating.  Lots of meeting rooms did not have good (or any) wifi connection, and lots of sessions were relying on pads and easels rather than google docs to capture ideas.  There were sessions where we sat and got talked to, rather than sharing our ideas.  All these moments confirmed for us that if school librarians are going to be taken seriously, we need to show that we use technology on the same level as our peers at ISTE, and that we need to make our PD interactive and participatory.
  • AASL does have some good resources that are under-utilized.  The organization has recently re-organized its leadership structure and embarked on a new strategic plan.  We looked at a lot of online resources for PD, advocacy, and communication that we need to share more widely and use better.  I am hoping that when AASL President Teri Grief comes to our conference next month she can help us kick off a look at making AASL more relevant for MSLA members.

Books Books Books

Okay--we do go to meetings and we network our brains out, but what we really do A LOT is look at books while we're at Midwinter Meeting. 

For the first time ever, I went to the ALA Youth Media Awards, which really is like the Academy Awards for book geeks.  It was amazing, and because we were clueless, Kathy Lowe, Anita Cellucci and I marched right in and sat in the third row from the front, finding ourselves plunked among the Caldecott Committee, famous authors winning prizes, and the literary illuminati (Kathleen T. Horning was sitting just a few seats away and when they announced that Pat Mora had won the Arbuthnot lecuture award, we heard a squeal and turned around to find she was sitting in the seat behind us).  Of course, you can see the whole list of winners here.

After that, we went into the enormous vendor hall and just began gobbling up free books.  Publishers bring ARCs and giveaways of titles that they hope will catch the eye of librarians.  As people hand you titles, they casually let you know that the author is signing in an hour, or "I think this is Avi's best book in years," while you frantically look for more free canvas bags to stuff them into and wonder how many you can carry before you keel over.

On Friday, I got my first shipment of 8 boxes of books I sent home.  These are going into tote bags to bring to our MSLA conference in March.  As we wrap up our unconference on Sunday, we plan to share our goodies with those attending, so expect there is a good chance you'll be heading home with great new reads to share with your students!  Here's my haul: