What’s new at this year’s AASL conference? What are a few
highlights you can point to? And what are you most looking
forward to at the conference?
One of the things that’s new this year is that we typically have conference celebration on Saturday, but we moved it this year to Friday. We
did that because many attendees have to fly home on that last day of
the conference, and we didn’t want them to miss the celebration. We
used to call it Closing Celebration, and now it’s called Conference
Celebration. It’s a unique event, and it’s always memorable. This year
it’s going to be off-site, on a ranch, and it features a rodeo. My understanding is that I am somehow involved in that rodeo, so I can only
imagine what’s in store! AASL staff and the
members of the committee know that I’m a good
sport, and I believe they are going to test my
“good sportness.” But I’m looking forward to it.
That’s the fun part. In addition to the fun, the
networking opportunities are so critical. It’s such
a value-added portion of the conference that is
hard to describe until you’ve experienced it. We
have added a new author event, called Authors
in the Afternoon. It will give a more intimate
look than maybe our members are used to for
popular authors Jordan Sonnenblick, Christian
Robinson, and Sarah Dessen. Each attendee at
that ticketed event will receive a signed book
from each of those authors. People are excited
about the chance to interact with authors, and
that engagement is continuing to be more and
more robust at our conference.
And, of course, the biggest thing, as we’ve
been discussing—this conference is where our
new national school library standards debut.
There is so much excitement around that. One
of the general sessions will be all about the
Personally, I’m really excited about getting to
hear Jason Reynolds. Everything I’ve read and
seen about him—he is so inspirational. Assuming
I survive that rodeo, I’m really looking forward
to hearing from him on Saturday morning.
Also, it’s such an exciting time for the field—
seeing the years of work come to fruition on
these standards. I know how hard all the committee members have been working on organizing the conference.
We can work day to day, sometimes as loners; some of us don’t get
that interaction with other school library professionals every day. This
is a chance to be among your people and really talk about and dig into
things. The concurrent sessions and the richness of them—we have
more than 120 sessions—are a chance to learn new things and a testament to just how many entries we received. In Phoenix, we’ve created
a desert oasis where we have the luxury of time, to dive in and celebrate and enjoy what it means to be a school librarian and the type of
work we do as we strive to impact student achievement every day. ■