American Association of School Librarians Conference

Louisville, KT – November 2019

In November of 2019 I was able to attend the AASL 2019 conference in Louisville, Kentucky with the financial assistance of CLRC.  This was the first national library conference I have ever been able to attend. I was able to network with librarians from around the country (and one from Brazil) as well as the librarians from New York State.  I was able to help represent the NYLA-SSL at the Conference opening parade. This is where the different state organizations come and march across the stage. 

The Friday afternoon keynote, Ellen Oh!, founder of “We Need Diverse Books” was also inspirational and very relevant to our school libraries. Ellen talked about how she felt as a child when she didn’t find any representation of people like her in children’s books. Her presentation emphasizes the real need to include books about many topics and including people from all backgrounds. 

The highlight of the conference for me was the Saturday morning keynote speaker, Dr. Adolph Brown, an American urban and rural school educator, research-scientist, author and businessman.  He was entertaining, inspirational and relevant to school libraries. I enjoyed him so much I would like to have him to our area to keynote our Leatherstocking Conference. Some of the things Dr. Brown said that really stuck with me are, “Kindness is proactive, niceness is reactive.  Kindness in unconditional regardless of how someone else treats you.” “when things go wrong, you don’t have to go with them” “Fear and faith can’t coexist. Faith is ‘even if’, fear is ‘what if’.”

I also attended some really good sessions. In one session, I was able to see the collections they have been building in Lincoln, Nebraska to support diversity and social/emotional learning.  This is something that I would like to replicate in our area for our schools. I spoke with the librarians from Lincoln who gave us permission to use what they have already created. I was then able to go to the vendor floor and speak with my Overdrive representative on building these collections.  She is willing to build these for our Overdrive account.

I attended a session on data literacy, a topic I feel passionate about. The presenters talked about different ways to teach data literacy and some websites that are helpful in that process.  At another session, we learned about digital breakout sessions. I would like to figure out a way to turn these into online professional development. There is still a lot of work to do. It was wonderful to be able to see the many different ways librarians are educating students.

Visiting with vendors is always important for me to stay up to date on the latest products.  I was able to attend the Rosen Dinner while I was there and speak with Roger Rosen, the owner of the company.  They have acquired a reading platform, lightsail. I always enjoy speaking with Harry Chan and the other OPALS representatives.  Harry has been working on an integrated library system for us and these meetings are very useful in moving the work forward.

The other highlight of my trip was spending time with colleagues that I haven’t seen in a while.  These interactions and discussions are always very valuable and one can often find opportunities to collaborate from informal conversation.  

In my opinion, the library community is truly one of the most collaborative groups of professionals to be found, and attending this conference reinforced that belief.  I came back to my program energized and brimming with fresh ideas. Thank you to CLRC for helping make it possible for me to attend this conference.

Elizabeth Hartnett

Coordinator – School Library System and Media Services, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES

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