AASL 2013

Hartford, Connecticut has been taken over en masse by an amazing conglomeration of school librarians. The 16th conference of the American Association of School Librarians occurs bi-annually, and is completely overflowing with professional development for, unique challenges to, and encouragement for librarians in supporting our learning communities in the most exciting, effective, and efficient ways.

I cannot even begin to process all the information I've acquired over the last three days. My second national conference (the first was in Charlotte, NC in 2009), I am once again overcome with the feelings that: a) every school librarian should have the opportunity to attend at least one of these, b) my brain is full as a tick, and c) I am chomping at the BIT to get back to my students and teachers to share with them some of the ideas I've amassed in the past 72 hours.

The American Association of School Librarians (a division of the American Library Association) is the voice for school librarians nationwide. I can't join every single professional organization out there, but ALA/AASL is one that I consider absolutely essential for school librarians. One reason is the resources they provide for school librarians such as this conference, Learning for Life, 25 Best Apps/Websites for Teaching and Learning, Common Core Crosswalk, and 21st Century Learning Standards. The most important reason I love AASL is that they consistently raise the bar on performance, role, and relevance of school librarians as power players in the education profession.

A few highlights...

Idea xChange: This was a poster session in which presenters assembled about 50 stations all with fresh and new ideas they are currently implementing in their school libraries. It's like a snack bar of fun and practical ideas! The room was insanely crowded, but thankfully most had QR codes we could grab and mosey on, to process each center's info later.

Access to authors: There is simply no replacement for an event such as this is gaining direct access to a wide variety of authors, all at once. Stand in line for autographed books, sit with them at dinner, chat with them at ticketed events, or (my favorite) hearing them share an their craft at the more intimate concurrent sessions.

Connection to national leaders: As a state and regional leader, I've had some unique opportunities to chat with leaders on the national level. It is good to retain connection to the pulse points of issues, trends, and challenges nation-wide.

Being with our people: Whether you're in a session, waiting for the city bus, sharing a taxi, mingling at vendor events, or in line for the bathroom, you can easily connect with other librarians. I had a 25-second conversation in the elevator with a librarian from Seattle that completely blew my mind about the current state of affairs in various education systems throughout the country. Another talk with a librarian from a boarding school in Vermont gave me a vastly different perspective about the nature of student service that was simply fascinating.

So much more about AASL 2013 (participating in focus groups, vendor events, the "unconference" event, etc.) coming soon!